The Best Minestrone Soup

The Food Lab

Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.

[Photographs and video: J. Kenji López-Alt]

If all were right in the world, there would be as many recipes for minestrone—the Italian soup of simmered mixed vegetables and beans—as there have been individual pots of it cooked. That's because it's really more of a process than a fixed recipe. It's a hearty, easy, delicious meal that you can make with a couple of pantry staples and whatever fresh vegetables you happen to have on hand.

The written recipe here includes suggestions for a basic minestrone, but feel free to add or subtract vegetables at will.

Serious Eats

VIDEOS

Watch More Videos Replay

This chart is excerpted from my book, The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science, and it should give you a basic idea of how and when to add various vegetables.

Soup Vegetables

Vegetable Preparation Instructions Minimum Cooking Time
Carrot Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks, sautéed at start until tender 20 minutes
Cauliflower Florets separated, stems sliced 1/4 inch thick 20 minutes
Celery Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks, sautéed at start until tender 20 minutes
Celery root Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Jicama Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Kohlrabi Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Leeks Thinly sliced or diced, sautéed at start until tender 20 minutes
Onion Thinly sliced or diced, sautéed at start until tender 20 minutes
Parsnip Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Potato Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Radish Cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Rutabaga Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Sweet potato Peeled and cut into 1/2-inch chunks 20 minutes
Asparagus Cut into 1-inch lengths 10 minutes
Broccoli Florets separated, stems sliced 1/4 inch thick 10 minutes
Hearty greens (cabbage, kale, collards) Tough stems or cores removed, leaves sliced or roughly chopped 10 minutes
Green beans Trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces 10 minutes
Summer squash Cut into 1/2-inch chunks or disks 10 minutes
Zucchini Cut into 1/2-inch chunks or disks 10 minutes
Tender greens (spinach, arugula, watercress, chard) Leaves roughly chopped or torn 5 minutes
Brussels sprouts Leaves separated 5 minutes
Frozen peas Added straight from freezer 5 minutes
Frozen lima beans Added straight from freezer 5 minutes
Corn kernels Cut off cob and separated into individual kernels 5 minutes