vibrant, loaded vegan minestrone soup

Vegan Minestrone Soup

POSTED ON 10.7.2020

A steaming bowl of this vegan minestrone soup is one of life’s simple pleasures. My recipe is a fall twist of a traditional vegetable soup.

A steaming bowl of this vegan minestrone soup is one of life’s simple pleasures. My recipe takes fun, fall twist of a traditional vegetable soup. We’re quickly entering a season where schedules are full, sleep is low, and immune systems are not at their best. Why not give our bodies a much needed immunity boost?

two bowls of vegan minestrone soup, ready to eat.

Where does minestrone soup come from?

The word minestrone actually means big soup. It originated in Italy, and typically uses celery, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, olive oil, pasta. It’s often topped with Parmesan cheese, which is most often shredded, not powdered. It’s considered the ‘poor man’s soup’ as it doesn’t need meat, and therefore can be made with whatever you have on hand.

Even Italians have their own take on this hearty soup, because the ingredients vary depending on the region + season. I love that it was created to be made with fresh, seasonal ingredients, as well as be changed depending on what’s fresh.

one bowl of minestrone soup sitting on a wooden crate with a picnic blanket and some pesto ciabatta bread.

What makes this minestrone soup vegan?

The base of this soup is traditionally vegetable broth, so no need for heavy cream. While some people put cheese on top of the finished product, I’ve opted to keep it simple and make a cheese-less variety. I’ve also swapped the traditional pesto for my vegan basil pesto… seriously, it’s SO good!

I feel better when I limit my dairy intake, and honestly, the veggies + spices in this soup pack a lot of flavor! Kale is another addition to this vegan minestrone soup recipe, as it gives the soup an earthy flavor, while also upping the nutritional profile.

I have two kids and know how far cheesy toast can go with a meal— so we’ve added that to make it more kid-friendly. If it takes cheesy garlic bread to get them excited to eat their vegetables, I’m cool with that!

If you’re trying to go 100% vegan or plant-based— you can always use vegan butter and garlic in your toast. Or skip it all together. The hero of this blog post is the Minestrone soup.

What if I don’t like an ingredient in this minestrone soup?

Soup holds the incredible super power of being insanely delicious and highly customizable, all at the same time. Sounds a lot like green smoothies, am I right?! One reason I love soup so much, is that I can change up the recipe depending on my mood or my pantry.

Ingredient swaps

Here are some easy swaps that will make this vegan minestrone soup work for you, as well as your pantry:

  • Don’t like butternut squash? Try zucchini, delicata squash, acorn squash, sweet potato, or white potato.
  • Not a fan of kale? Use Swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, or really any other leafy green you have on hand.
  • Instead of cannellini beans, use chickpeas
  • Instead of basil pesto, try one of my many pesto recipes

Other tips for creating a delicious soup

Personally, I like soup with a kick, so I often add in some cayenne or hot sauce. To make this soup creamier, you can add in 1 can of full fat coconut milk 20 minutes before serving. Vegan minestrone soup has a lot of elements, so feel free to make it work with what you’ve got on hand.

an overhead shot of vegan minestrone soup that displays many of the veggies cooked to make this delicious soup.
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vibrant, loaded vegan minestrone soup

Vegan Minestrone Soup


  • Author: Jen Hansard
  • Prep Time: 25 minutes
  • Cook Time: 4 hours
  • Total Time: 5 hours
  • Yield: 8 servings 1x
  • Diet: Vegetarian

Description

Minestrone Soup is loaded with nourishing vegetables that heal the body and sooth the soul. Simple, easy to make and easily reheated.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion (diced)
  • 3 cloves garlic (minced)
  • 3 carrots (peeled and sliced)
  • 2 celery stalks (sliced)
  • One 15– can cannellini beans (drained and rinsed, 1 ½ cups)
  • One 28– can diced tomatoes in juice (do not drain)
  • 2 cups butternut squash (diced)
  • 1 quart vegetable broth (plus more if needed)
  • 2 teaspoons dried Italian herbs
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1/41/2 cup vegan basil pesto

Instructions

  1. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds.
  2. Transfer to a slow cooker along with the carrots, celery, beans, diced tomatoes and their juice, butternut squash, vegetable broth, and dried Italian herbs. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
  3. Stir in the leafy greens and pesto. Taste and decide if you want more pesto (I always lean towards more is the way to go). The residual heat will cook the greens without turning them mushy. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.

Notes

Cooked pasta can be added to the soup, if desired. Adding uncooked pasta to the slow cooker can also be done, but it may become too mushy with the long cooking time.

You can also cook this on the stovetop. For step 2, just add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, or until butternut squash, carrots and celery are soft (break apart when you put a fork through them).

  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: slow cooker minestrone soup

More plant powered soup recipes

Soup is one of my fav meals, so I’ve got a lot of soup recipes to share! If you’re looking for some soup inspo, look no further than this delicious list:

  • Carrot ginger soup– Super creamy with just the right amount of spice, this soup is comforting and immune boosting.
  • Vegetable barley soup– Similar to this vegan minestrone soup, my vegetable barley soup is hearty, flavorful, and full of veggies.
  • Coconut Thai soup– I love the nutty coconut milk used in this fun soup recipe. This is one I often make for parties, and there are never any leftovers!
  • Pumpkin soup– The ultimate fall soup. Make a big pot of this to go with your game day spread, or for a festive fall dinner party.
  • Zoodles in a jar– This is my go-to fast food in a jar. Take real, whole food ingredients, delicious veggie broth, and a mason jar, and you’ve got yourself a packed lunch.
  • Roasted red pepper soup– You’ll be shocked that there’s no dairy in this soup! Decadent and useful as a side or the main course, this soup is comfort, fall vibes, and satisfaction in a bowl.
  • Split pea soup– This warming soup recipe brings up fond childhood memories. Add in any veggies on hand, and turn this into a hearty soup for a cold evening.

Plant-Based Meals, Plant-Based Recipes

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Top 7 green smoothie recipes OF ALL TIME!
02
HOW TO MAKE A MEAL REPLACEMENT SMOOTHIE
03
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About Jen Hansard

Mom of 2, ran across the Grand Canyon and lover of smoothies, coffee & tacos. I transformed my family's health with a plant-based diet. I also found myself again along the way.

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Recipe rating

COMMENTS
30
  1. Jennifer says:

    Can you use frozen butternut squash? When would you add it in?

    • Simple Green Smoothies says:

      You could def use frozen butternut squash here, Jennifer! We would add it in right where the fresh is in the original recipe, when assembling ingredients in your slow cooker.

  2. Jessica says:

    I usually don’t love minestrone soup but I definitely want to give this recipe a try. Looks really good!

  3. Amanda says:

    So good! My Italian former-chef dad even agreed, and he’s picky!

  4. Kat B. says:

    Love how easy this is to put together!

  5. Kim says:

    Yum! The perfect soup for fall evenings!

  6. Stephanie Crouse says:

    I have to say, mine doesn’t look like the picture but it still tasted good. I had to modify it some as the first store had no basil and the second store had very little and I didn’t think to buy store bought pesto so I substituted a little bit of dill and extra Italian seasoning. I, also, added zucchini I had on hand. The end result was surprisingly good and made the whole house smell amazing. I think next time I will add in more cannellini beans or lentils or such as one can wasn’t enough for me. Overall though, this is really good and I will definitely make it again. Thanks for the recipe.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      That’s great, Stephanie! So glad you were able to make it work with the items you had on hand. 🙂

  7. Lisa says:

    What can I add instead of vegan pesto? Our basil just took a nose dive in our garden… 🙁

  8. Marie says:

    FYI – your stove top directions mention sweet potatoes, but there are none in the recipe. I think that is supposed to say butternut squash.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      Great catch, Marie. Thanks! It’s been changed. 🙂

      After you make it, come back and let us know what you thought!

  9. Erin says:

    This sounds so amazing. I never would have thought about butternut squash, and I have some growing in my garden! Definitely saving this recipe for those.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      This soup would taste so good with homegrown butternut squash!

  10. Stace says:

    When do you stir in the leafy greens and pesto? Right before serving?

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      Yes, after your slow cooker has turned off or switched to the “warm” setting.

  11. Jen Hansard says:

    This is such an easy recipe to make ahead. I like to start it once the kids go off to school and enjoy it that evening for dinner. Very hands off, which helps on busy afternoons.

    • SGS Rawkstar Jess says:

      I am all for simple recipes that don’t require a lot of work!

  12. Wairimu says:

    Look delicious. We don’t have a snow-cooker. How long will it take to cook the ‘normal’ way?

    • SGS Rawkstar says:

      Hi Wairimu,

      Great question! About 25-30 minutes on your stovetop will be the perfect amount of time to allow your veggies to soften. Add the pesto + greens shortly prior to serving.

      Enjoy!

  13. Susan says:

    This soup is delicious and that’s coming from a family that is picky about soups! The flavor was great before I added the pesto and with the pesto it was even better. I didn’t have dried Italian herbs, so I used 1/2 tsp of oregano, basil, parsley, thyme, and rosemary, which is slightly more than 2 tsp.

    • SGS Rawkstar says:

      Hi Susan,

      Yay! We’re so happy to hear your family enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for sharing! 🙂

  14. Linda Smith says:

    Just ordered book, but somehow entered e-mail wrong. Correct e-mail above. Green Smoothies are great, as was the 21 day cleanse. Looking forward to this new one!

  15. Tracey says:

    Do you have the nutritional value of your recipes?

    • SGS Rawkstar says:

      Hi Tracey,

      We try not to focus on the numbers. You’ll find that when you consume more nourishing whole fruits and veggies, you will not only feel full longer, but you’ll also have lessened cravings for high-calorie, nutritionally empty foods. So in the end it balances out. But we know many people would like to have the nutritional info. Three great resources for tracking calories are Self Nutrition Data, and the phone apps: My Fitness Pal and Lose It.

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