Minestrone Soup

vat of soup
One vat of soup, several meals

I love to cook not-written-in-stone recipes. Add a bit of this, a scrap of that, taste as you go, repeat.

For the batch of minestrone soup pictured in this post, I used celery, carrots, a bell pepper and potatoes that I had on hand and bought some parsnips and a turnip to reach the three pounds of mixed vegetables I wanted. In summer, I might add green beans, corn and fresh basil. Whatever vegetables you include, you will, however, want to add tomatoes. This is after all an Italian dish. This time, I used a jar of my roasted tomatoes that I prep in the summer, freeze and eat all winter. If you use fresh tomatoes, ideally, you would blanch, peel and seed them. I do this step only occasionally, I have to admit.


Minestrone soup uses up all sorts of ingredients you may have on hand so you reduce food waste and save money. Most importantly, it tastes delicious. Resourceful as I am, I don’t eat food that tastes bad. To help clear out your refrigerator:
  • Use vegetables you have on hand and that need to be eaten soon
  • Add leftover cooked pasta or rice
  • If you eat cheese and meat, toss in parmesan rinds or bones to add flavor, or any bits of leftover cooked meat
parmesan rind
Parmesan rind added to increase flavor and reduce food waste

Save this recipe

I finally downloaded a recipe plugin for my food blog. I have a lot of work ahead, migrating all my recipes! You can save this one to Yummly or you can print it. Or you could write it down on scrap paper, turn off all your devices and unplug like a rebel. You may be thinking, “Why would a zero waster want me to consume paper to jot down her recipe?” If you think you will refer to this recipe over and over online, you may consume more energy than the amount required to produce a piece of paper. On our cookbook shelf sits a large binder that we have been stashing recipes into for about 10 years. My daughter MK started it. It’s an heirloom now. We have recipes in there from Granny and Grandma, friends, even teachers.
Vegetarian Chili

Vegetarian Chili

In the winter, I use tomatoes that I've roasted and frozen in glass jars. I cut small tomatoes into halves or quarters, arrange them on a cookie sheet and roast at 275°F for 1 1/2 to 2 hours until they are softened and sweet. I then allow them to cook, pack them into jars and freeze them. These replace the need for canned tomatoes.


  • 1 cup dried kidney beans
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 large onions, diced
  • 2 large bell peppers, chopped
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon crushed dried chillies
  • 2 tablespoons ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander
  • 1/4 teaspoon cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon allspice
  • 4 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 4 cups roasted tomatoes (or 4 pounds fresh tomatoes)
  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup of cooked bean water
  • 1 teaspoon salt


  1. Soak beans for approximately 8 hours. Cook in a pressure cooker, slow cooker or pot on the stove.
  2. If using fresh tomatoes, in a perfect world, blanch and peel them. Bring a pot of water to a boil. On the bottom of each tomato, score an X. Boil the tomatoes for one minute, drain and immediately immerse in a bowl of ice water. Peel and dice.
  3. Heat oil in a pot over medium heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook until softened, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and cook for a minute, stirring.
  5. Add spices and cook for a minute, stirring.
  6. Add mushrooms and cook for about 10 minutes until the moisture is released.
  7. For fresh tomatoes, add and cook until they've broken down a bit, about 5 minutes. For roasted tomatoes, add and move on to the next step.
  8. Add the kidney beans, sweet potatoes, salt and just enough of the bean water to barely cover everything.
  9. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes or until the sweet potatoes are tender.
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4 Comment

  1. Love the hashtag #kitchensinkcooking !

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      Thanks Annie!

  2. I have a little notebook where I write down recipes I tried and like not to forget about them. I still need to add a few recipes from this blog to it 😉

    1. The Zero-Waste Chef says: Reply

      I’d be honored to make it into your notebook 🙂

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