A steaming bowl of vegan minestrone soup is one of life’s simple pleasures. My recipe takes a fun, Autumn twist on 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?
The word minestrone actually means big soup. It originated in Italy, and typically uses celery, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, olive oil and pasta. It’s often topped with parmesan cheese (mine uses a vegan 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 and season. I love that it was created to be made with fresh, seasonal ingredients to be changed depending on what’s fresh.
Table of Contents
Minestrone Soup Ingredients
- Onion: I use yellow onions in most of my cooking since they are mild and warm.
- Garlic: Use real, whole garlic for the most robust flavor.
- Carrot: Use the carrot color of your choice to add a carotene boost to this soup.
- Celery: This simple vegetable packs a flavorful punch to any soup. Use the leaves from the full stalk for even more savory goodness.
- Cannellini Beans: These beans add a great boost of fiber and protein as well as calcium.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: An easy way to add a bit of heat as well as flavor to this veggie soup.
- Butternut Squash: I love the buttery flavor and natural sweetness of butternut squash.
- Vegetable Stock: While homemade is best, you can find great store-bought options with real ingredients.
- Italian Seasoning: I splurge on a high-quality seasoning with real ingredients and a strong oregano flavor.
- Kale: A hearty superfood containing over 100% of the RDV of vitamin C.
- Basil Pesto: This optional ingredient elevates the final soup by adding a bit more flavor, pizazz and creaminess.
Easy Ingredient Swaps
Yellow onions are my go-to for soups, yet feel free to use the onion of your choice. If you can’t do onions, swap for a leek. The cannellini beans can be swapped with another white bean or kidney beans. Swap butternut squash with another squash, or even zucchini.
Kale adds a hearty flavor to this soup yet can be swapped with Swiss chard or spinach. I add fire-roasted tomatoes for a spicy kick yet regular canned tomatoes work great as well.
How to Make Slow Cooker Minestrone
With just a bit of effort, this hearty warm soup will be your dinner. This is how I make mine:
- Heat just a bit of olive oil (or the healthy fat of your choice) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion then sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Add your sautéd ingredients to a crock pot along with everything but the kale and pesto. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. You’ll know it’s ready once the butternut squash and carrots are fork-tender.
- Stir in kale and basil pesto right before serving. The heat from the soup will nicely wilt the kale before you are ready to eat it, no need to cook it in the crock pot. Serve!
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. Honestly, the veggies and spices in this soup pack a lot of flavors! 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 I’ve added that as a side to make this recipe 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 altogether. Feel free to top your soup with vegan parmesan cheese.
Vegan Minestrone Soup FAQs
Minestrone is a bulked-up veggie soup. It contains hearty vegetables and beans/pasta to make a more filling result.
My delicious minestrone soup contains onion, garlic, carrots, celery, cannellini beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, butternut squash, vegetable stock and kale. I top it with vegan basil pesto for a creamy finish.
Easy! Add vegan cheese sprinkle, skip any heavy cream, and top with a vegan pesto of your choice. You won’t miss any dairy finishes in this delightful soup.
More Vegan Soup Recipes
Soup is one of my favorite meals, so I’ve got a lot of soup recipes to share! Check out this delicious list to get started:
- 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.
Your feedback is so valuable to me. Will you rate + review this soup once you’ve made it?
Vegan Minestrone Soup
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 1 cloves garlic cloves minced
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 stalk celery sliced
- 1 cup cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 15 oz fire-roasted tomatoes do not drain, 1 can
- 1 cup butternut squash diced
- 2.5 cups vegetable stock plus more if needed
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 cups kale chopped
- 1 tbsp vegan basil pesto optional
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
I made this soup with a lot of care to gluenten free ingredients let sit overnight and shared it.
I added half a cup of noodles and a cup of water. The pesto definitely adds to the flavor,
This soup was quick and easy to prepare and had very good taste. Made this overnight in the slow cooker so was able to enjoy it for lunch the next day. Gotta love a soup you can “set it and forget it” and have it come out so good. I agree you need to cut the kale in rather small bite sized pieces to prevent the soup running down your chin when you try to spoon larger pieces of kale into your mouth. Will make this many more times.
Delicious soup! I added the pesto and loved the extra flavour it gave.
This is my husband’s favorite so far, and he doesn’t normally like Kale! I used the Instant Pot instead of a slow cooker and added a some cooked brown rice to each serving.
I enjoyed the soup very much. Everything was great, I didn’t change one single thing. Excellent!
The recipe is bland and needs salt and pepper for an added flavoring. I am also not a big Kale person (sorry) so added in spinach just before it was done. I also added in pasta towards the end.
A wonderful soup. I look forward to trying the coconut milk in the future.
This was my first successful use of my big crock pot.
I have been using organic chicken bone broth in my soups including this one. However, today I made my first batch of vegetable stock and am excited about using it soon. The used scraps will go into my composter and eventually into my garden. I am feeling good about not letting all the scraps and greenery go to waste.
Another of my favorite soup, the flavor was excellent. I will make this one again.
Loved how easy it was to make in the slow cooker because we have a very full weekend of gatherings for Thanksgiving. So five stars for that. Have to report later about the taste when we eat it tomorrow. I like pasta in my minestrone so I added a little Israeli couscous
Loved this soup. Full of vegetables and love. I hadn’t used the crackpot for soup before.
Love this soup!
The Butternut squash adds a tasty flavor I’m not used to in minestrone.
I was not inspired by this one. A big batch of seasoned croutons (or maybe some parmesan cheese toasts) are needed for sure. Be sure the kale is torn into very small (bite sized) pieces, otherwise, it is an unwelcome mouthful amongst all of the other similar-sized ingredients.
Favorite so far!
It’s in the slow cooker – looks and smells yummy. Will find out in the morning. I’ve been eating my soups for breakfast this week as well as dinner.
I’ve never really cared for Minestrone soup, but this recipe has changed my mind! We used small white beans rather than the cannellini (or giant red kidney beans which is probably why I never much liked Minestrone). We added the basil pesto AND a can of coconut milk. Delicious! Thick and FULL of great vegetables! Made the big batch so we can serve it to guests in a couple days when it will be even better from all the flavors marrying together.