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The Ligurians claim minestrone as their own, but most regions of Italy make a thick, hearty vegetable soup called minestrone. Usually, it contains some kind of bean (borlotti are popular in Liguria, cannellini in other regions), some kind of dried pasta, and greens of some kind or multiple kinds. This minestrone trio is also the basic structure of Italian-American minestrone, which almost always includes cabbage as part of the greens. The following recipe is a marvelous, densely flavored version, with no particular regional affiliation. It's even better if you cook it one day, refrigerate it overnight, then serve it the next day. The Ligurians, of course, would top it with pesto. By the way, it's not uncommon in Italy, particularly in summer, to serve minestrone at room temperature. Serves 8

SKU 456-Recipe

  • 8 Serves


  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 large yellow onions, cut into slivers (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, diced (about 3/4 cup)
  • 2 large red-skinned potatoes, peeled and diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1/3 pound green beans, trimmed and diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 small zucchini, diced (about 1 3/4 cups)
  • 2 cups finely shredded green cabbage
  • 2 cups canned, crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups beef broth
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh basil
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt, or to taste
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 cup dried beans, such as cannellini, soaked and cooked according to package directions (about 2 cups cooked)
  • 1/2 cup short, dried pasta, such as ditalini or elbow macaroni
  • 1/2 cup coarsely grated Parmigiano-Reggiano for garnish
  • 3 tablespoons finely shredded basil leaves for garnish


  1. Heat olive oil over moderate heat in large saucepan. Add onions and sugar, stir well, and cover. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until onions are wilted and light golden. Uncover and cook for another 20 to 25 minutes, or until onions are brown and well caramelized. (Watch carefully, so the onions don't burn.)
  2. Add carrots, celery, potatoes, and green beans, and cook for 10 minutes, or until vegetables soften slightly. Add zucchini and cabbage, and cook for 10 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, beef broth, water, herbs, salt, and pepper. Stir well and bring to a boil. Turn down heat to low, cover, and simmer gently for 2 hours. Add cannellini beans, and cook mixture for another 30 minutes.
  3. When ready to serve, cook the pasta in at least 2 quarts of boiling, salted water until al dente. Drain. Add pasta to pan. Adjust seasoning. Ladle into warmed soup bowls, and garnish each serving with about 1 tablespoon of Parmigiano-Reggiano and some shredded basil leaves.