It’s getting into the doldrums of winter here and for me, that means the cozy food starts appearing in our kitchen on a regular basis. The crockpot never gets put away and the house always smells great! This vegetarian minestrone soup is a super simple and hearty soup that you will definitely make a few times over the next few months. You can make it in the crockpot or on the stove top. Just depends on how much time you have.
This recipe makes a lot of soup, which is great because it freezes well…that means, you not only get to eat this soup once, but you’ll also have a go-to meal hiding in the freezer (which also means dinner one night on your meal plan next month is done)!
I developed this recipe using my favorite pre-made dry soup mixes, but you can make it without those as well. I’ll share the substitutions at the bottom of the recipe in the notes section. I love using these soup starters (I don’t know if that’s what they are really called, but that’s what I’m calling them) from Manischewitz (not sponsored, just love them).
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What do you serve with this soup?
Cheesy bread is one of those things that I tend to forget about when I’m feeding my family. Instead, I’m always looking for a healthy side. But because this minestrone soup is so chock full of good stuff, simple cheesy bread makes a great side dish.
Making the cheesy bread is so easy. I like to use leftover challah (which is something we always have in the house) either fresh or frozen, but I’ve also used sandwich bread, sourdough, french bread, etc. All you need to do is butter the bread (fresh or frozen) and then sprinkle shredded cheese over the top. I like to use shredded mozzarella, but anything you like is fine.
If you are making a big batch, use a cookie sheet and toast these in a 400 degree oven until the cheese is melted (about 5-7 minutes). If you are just making a piece or two, the toaster oven works great!
Do I have to start with a soup starter?
You don’t have to start with a soup starter, but that is the key to keeping this soup simple. It means that you don’t have to gather a ton of spices and ingredients, soak beans, etc. If you are looking for some good soup starters here are some that I like:
- Manischewitz Minestrone Soup Mix (This is the favorite, the one I use, and the one I highly recommend)
- Streit’s Minestrone Soup MIx
- Alessi Soup Mix
- Bob’s Red Mill (this mix will take a bit longer because you do need to soak the dried beans)
The beauty of this soup is that it is semi-homemade. You are enhancing and personalizing the soup starter to make it healthier, heartier and even more delicious than it started out.
How do I make simple minestrone soup?
In the crockpot: Making minestrone soup in the crockpot is super duper simple. The hardest part of the recipe in my opinion is cutting up all the veggies that go into it. If you can find them pre-chopped at your grocery store and feel like spending a few extra dollars to save the time, go for it. If not, the veggies can be chopped a day or two in advance for easy prep the day you want to make this.
First, gather all of your ingredients and chop up the veggies into equal size pieces (this helps things cook at the same rate). The only thing you’ll leave out at this point is the can of cannellini beans. Then put everything in the crockpot and let cook 5-6 hours on high heat or 7-8 hours on low heat. Sometime mid cooking, go ahead and add in the cannellini beans.
About 30 minutes before serving you can thicken the soup up by taking ¼ – ½ of the soup out and blending it in a high speed blender (I used my vitamix) or by using an immersion blender. This is totally optional, but I do like my soup on the thicker side.
On the stovetop: Follow the directions for the crockpot method, except, you put everything into the big stock pot and bring to a boil. Cover, and then cook on a low boil for about 45 minutes. Then take some out, thicken the soup if you want, add the cannellini beans, cook another 10 minutes or so and enjoy!
Tips and Tricks:
- You can dice up the vegetables for this soup a few days ahead of time so that you really just need to dump and go on the day you want to make it. A great way to meal prep over a weekend or work at home day.
- This soup freezes great, in my opinion. I like to freeze soup in these tall deli containers. To defrost either put in fridge overnight or plop frozen soup into a pot and warm through over medium low heat. You may want to add a splash of water to thin out the soup after it’s defrosted.
- You can substitute any kind of stock for the water in this recipe. Beef, chicken or veggie stock will all add to the complexity and depth of flavor, however, I think it tastes great as it is.
- Garnish with some croutons, parmesan cheese, a handful or two of spinach dropped into the pot 5 minutes before serving, or even some roasted chickpeas.
Looking for other great soup recipes? Check these out!
- corn and basil soup (from Simple Gray T Shirt)
- vegan tomato soup (from Crowded Kitchen) – would go great with my fancy grilled cheese sandwich
- detox crockpot lentil soup (from Pinch of Yum)
simple minestrone soup
- 6 cups water
- 4 cups tomato sauce not pasta sauce
- 2 celery stalks diced
- 2 large carrots diced
- 1/2 large onion diced
- 2 packages manischewitz minestrone soup starter or soup starter of your choice
- 5 frozen basil cubes or 1 1/2 tablespoons dried basil
- 4 frozen garlic cubes or 4 cloves garlic minced
- 15 oz can cannellini white beans
- salt and pepper to taste
- dice the carrot, onion, and celery
- gather the rest of the ingredients and put everything, except the cannellini beans, into a large stock pot
- bring to a boil over medium high heat, then cover and turn heat down to medium
- let cook about 45 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes or so to make sure nothing is sticking to the bottom of the pot.
- after about 45 minutes, remove about 1/2 the soup and puree to desired consistency and then return to stock pot.
- add the cannellini beans and let cook another 15 minutes or so
- serve hot with cheesy bread, a side salad or just enjoy this yummy bowl of soup as it is