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.
Minestrone Soup

Minestrone Soup


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano
  • 1 tbsp dried thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 pound tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 cup dried borlotti, cannellini or pinto beans, soaked 8 hours
  • 8 cups water
  • 1 parmesan rind (optional)
  • 1-2 pork bones (optional)
  • 3 pounds vegetables such as carrots, leeks, celery, cabbage, cauliflower, parsnips, turnips, bell peppers, squash, pumpkin, potatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp salt or to taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper or to taste


  1. Heat olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Saute onions and garlic for 5-10 minutes, until onions are translucent.
  2. Add the oregano, thyme and bay leaf and stir for one minute.
  3. Stir in tomatoes and break them with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until broken down.
  4. Add the soaked beans, water and, if using, parmesan rind and pork bones. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, cover and cook until beans are tender, about an hour.
  5. Add the vegetables, salt and pepper and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes.


In a perfect world, you would blanch, peel and seed the fresh tomatoes. I do this only occasionally.

For this post I used one 16-ounce jar of my frozen roasted tomatoes (since I wrote this in winter when tomatoes are out of season). In summer, I roast tomatoes as follows: 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. Allow them to cool, pack them into jars and freeze them. These replace the need for canned tomatoes.

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5 Replies to “Minestrone Soup”

  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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