Like many well-loved dishes, minestrone had humble beginnings. It was initially a staple in poor households in Italy and made with whatever ingredients were on hand. That means authentic minestrone does not have one tried-and-true recipe!
This vegan minestrone soup flies in the face of what Ruth Reichel and the team at Gourmet would’ve considered a real minestrone “with pancetta, Parmigiano-Reggiano and kale.” However, after much research and trial, we’ve developed a lovely version that’s worth making again and again.
How to Make Vegan Minestrone Soup
- 1/2 cup olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 carrot, chopped
- 1 celery rib, chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 zucchini, chopped
- 1/2 pound baby kale, stems removed
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) tomato sauce
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 32 ounces good-quality vegetable broth
- 2 potatoes, cooked and peeled (We love to use leftover baked potatoes!)
- 1 can (14.5 ounces) low/no sodium organic cannellini beans
- Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Editor’s Tip: Use this guide to learn how to chop an onion.
Step 1: Saute the onion
In a large stockpot, heat approximately 1/4-1/2 cup olive oil over medium-high heat. Once heated, add chopped onion, stirring occasionally, until softened; it should take about five minutes.
Step 2: Add vegetables
Add the carrot, celery and garlic; cook for another five minutes. Keep stirring. Then, add the chopped zucchini and cook for another five minutes. Last, add the baby kale, stirring and cooking until wilted.
Step 3: Add liquids and simmer
This is where the soup starts to take shape. Stir in the tomato sauce, diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Add the vegetable broth and stir. Cook until the ingredients reach a low boil.
Cover and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook for one hour. It’s a good time to start kneading a loaf of Italian bread.
Step 4: Add final ingredients and season
Blend half of the cannellini beans with the canned liquid (aquafaba). Remove cover and stir in the potatoes and blended bean mixture. Then, gently add the remaining beans and stir. Cook uncovered for an additional 15 minutes.
Stir and add salt and pepper to taste.
Psst: You’ll find aquafaba on our list of food scraps you can definitely eat.
Ways to Add Flavor to Vegan Soups
People often think you can’t get “real” favor in food without butter, meat or some other source of umami. That couldn’t be further from the truth! When you cook with fresh, seasonal ingredients, or ingredients that have been preserved at their peak of freshness, and allow them time to come together, you don’t need much to augment the flavor.
In this recipe for vegan minestrone soup, the aquafaba not only helps thicken the soup’s liquid (since it lacks the gelatin found in meat-based soups), but also adds additional water, salt and naturally produced carbohydrates (aka flavor).
The other ways to add flavor to vegan soups include:
- Making your own flavorful vegetable broth
- Roasting vegetables before adding them into the pot
- Adding liquid from canned organic corn
- Add dried mushrooms, which also offer a deep, complex flavor
- Using a spoonful of nutritional yeast. It adds an almost cheesy, savory, nuttiness to foods
- Including bay leaves or a bouquet garni
- Throwing in a dash of paprika, chili powder or cayenne
Use any of the tips above to make vegan soups flavorful and all your own!
How to Make Vegan Minestrone Soup in a Slow Cooker
If you are in a rush and don’t have time to slowly add ingredients, stirring and simmering between steps, use one of our go-to time-savers: the Crock-Pot! Follow steps 1-3 and then instead of cooking on the stovetop, set the slow cooker on low and let the ingredients simmer for 6-7 hours, or until veggies are fork-tender.