a hearty minestrone soup recipe, made with italian sausage, veggies, beans, kale, & a garlic- & herb-infused broth. you never knew minestrone soup could be so flavorful! this minestrone is comforting, rich, & the perfect cozy recipe to make all winter long. the ultimate minestrone soup!
well. we did it. we’ve officially survived the polar vortex of 2019.
last week was seriously madness, guys. temps here in minnesota dipped as low as -30 degrees, & when you factored in windchill it was colder than -60 degrees…for 3 days straight! craziness. it being as frigid as it was, i spent most of the week in the house, snuggled up in a handful of blankets, dreaming up some cozy, warm & comforting recipes.
this month, pwwb is going to be all about those comforting flavors & cozy, warm vibes…february is soup month!
just like how january was filled with amazing healthy & hearty salads here on pwwb, february is going to be filled with warm, cozy, comforting soups. i couldn’t be more excited! there’ll be comforting classics, a few lightened-up spins on your faves, & some of the best soup accompaniments. it’s going to be SO delish & SO cozy, & we’re kicking it off today with one of my FAVE soup recipes of all time…
my favorite minestrone: the BEST hearty minestrone soup recipe
this hearty minestrone soup is one of my top 5 favorite meals of all time. seriously.
filled with italian sausage, white beans, veggies (carrots! onions! celery!), & tons of garlic & herbs, this minestrone is everything that you could possibly want on a chilly fall or winter evening: hearty, flavorful, rich, & comforting.
a total hug in a bowl.
i’ve been making this hearty minestrone soup ever since my college days (which is 10 years at this point – sad!). made with relatively humble ingredients like sausage, veggies & beans, it was friendly for my tiny college budget, but also really filling & easy to make on sunday or monday to have on hand, making it easy to heat up throughout the week.
& even though i have a little more time & money than i did back then, this hearty minestrone soup is one of my all-time faves to this day. i make it at least once a month during the fall & winter months, & my family always requests it at our annual soup night over the christmas holiday. it’s the best, whether you’re meal prepping or feeding a crowd.
the absolute best.
& if i’m being honest…i am pretty sure it’s about to be one of your all-time favorite soup recipes too.
what is minestrone soup?
minestrone is basically the og “clean out your fridge” type of meal. made with whatever’s on hand at any given moment, minestrones can vary from a brothy & veggie packed soup to a heartier, meat-filled soup.
typically, today, a minestrone soup will contain:
- tons of veggies (onions, carrots, celery, zucchini…you name it!)
- beans (kidney beans, white beans)
- some type of grain (pasta, lentils – whatever floats your boat)
- a light, tomato-y broth
my hearty minestrone soup checks all those boxes, & then some. to bulk it up a bit, i add in spicy italian sausage (though sweet or mild sausage would work just as well!) & a ton of finely shredded kale. & to add extra flavor? a garlic- & herb-infused tomato broth…
how do you add flavor to minestrone soup?
i doubt minestrone tops the list of all-time favorite recipes for many people (other than me & my family!) (…& you once you try this minestrone recipe!). it’s one of those soups that gets a bad rap, probably from watery & flavorless canned soups or lackluster restaurant versions.
lucky for us, this hearty minestrone soup is anything but watery or flavorless. it’s filled with different layers of richness, thanks to a couple of my absolute favorite simple flavor-bomb soup hacks:
- italian sausage.
- infuse your broth with garlic & fresh herbs!
- toss a parmesan rind into the mix.
the key to adding tons of flavor to any recipe is to create layers of flavor throughout the dish. this hearty minestrone is no exception. it starts with a majorly easy flavor-bomb ingredient: italian sausage. italian sausage does double duty in this hearty minestrone soup, adding both the satisfying bulk that makes this soup hearty af, & also adding tons of flavor to the rest of the soup.
you brown up some italian sausage right in the dutch oven or soup pot that you plan to cook the rest of your minestrone in. the sausage browns & renders, but all of its flavor stays in the pot which creates the flavor base that you cook up the rest of the minestrone’s aromatics in.
so simple, but makes a huge difference in the overall flavor of the minestrone.
my other secret to making an ultra-flavorful minestrone soup is to infuse the minestrone broth with garlic, fresh herbs & a parmesan rind.
once the minestrone soup is otherwise assembled, you’ll bring everything up to a nice simmer & toss a whole head of garlic, some of your favorite fresh herbs (for me it’s rosemary, sage, thyme & bay leaves), & a parmesan rind into the soup.
so…i know exactly what you’re thinking: “a whole head of garlic?!”
oh hells to the yes!
i first learned this trick from tyler florence (my fave cookbook of all time!) & i’ve never looked back. you cut a whole head of garlic in half crosswise (pictured above), using your fingers to remove any excess papery peelings, then toss the whole dang thing into the minestrone soup pot. it’s the easiest way to add SO MUCH FLAVOR to any soup stock or broth.
(the fact that every now & then you get a jackpot bite with a perfectly simmered whole clove of garlic is just a tiny bonus. 😍)
how to store hearty minestrone soup
like i mentioned above, this hearty minestrone soup is one of my all-time favorite recipes, especially when it comes to meal prepping an easy, cozy lunch to have on hand for a chilly week.
one tiny thing to always keep in mind when it comes to storing a soup like minestrone is if you choose to add pasta to your soup, always store the pasta separately. when left in a broth or stock for a long period of time, pasta will absorb liquid like crazy, which not only makes the pasta soggy when you reheat it, but also messes with the overall ratio of liquid in your soup. double sad face, right?!
for this reason, i suggest cooking the pasta in a separate pot from the minestrone. to serve, you can simply add a handful of pasta to each bowl before ladling the soup over top. to store, just pop the pasta into a separate airtight container & it’s easy enough to add in when you go to reheat the soup. no soggy pasta here!
once you cook your minestrone, you can transfer it to a large airtight container or portion it out into individual airtight containers for the convenience of being able to grab-&-go. (these are my fave!) it’ll keep stored in the fridge for up to 5 days & you can easily reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop.
because this hearty minestrone stores so well, i highly suggest making a double batch. you can portion out any extras into freezer-safe containers (i love using jars like these!) & store in your freezer for up to 3 months.
thaw it out, heat it up, & you’ll have yourself the easiest cozy soup dinner of all time.
so go ahead…make a double batch. i promise you won’t regret it!
if you love this hearty minestrone soup recipe, here are a few other amazing soup, stew & chili recipes you have to try!
- my favorite white chili with pulled chicken & beer
- chipotle turkey chili with chickpeas & kale
- bacon beer cheese broccoli cheddar soup
- the perfect dunker: no-knead spicy cheese bread
- more comfort food perfection: skillet chicken pot pie
- all pwwb weeknight recipes
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a hearty italian minestrone soup recipe, made with sausage, veggies, beans, kale, & a garlic & herb infused broth. this minestrone soup is comforting, rich, & the perfect cozy recipe to make all winter long. the ultimate minestrone soup!
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper removed (see Recipe Notes)
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 8-10 leaves sage
- 8-10 sprigs thyme
- optional: parmesan rind (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 64 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded
- optional: 1 cup ditalini pasta, cooked according to package directions (see Recipe Notes)
- Kosher salt & ground black pepper, to season
- for serving, as desired: shaved parmesan, crusty buttered bread
- Brown the sausage: Add the sausage to a 7-quart Dutch oven or a large pot over medium-high heat. Brown the sausage for 5-7 minutes, using a wooden spoon to break the sausage into bite-sized crumbles as it cooks. Once browned, transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and set aside.
- Cook the aromatics: Turn the heat under the Dutch oven down to medium. The sausage should have rendered a bit of fat, but if you need to, add a splash of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrots and celery to the Dutch oven. Season with ¼ teaspoon each salt and ground black pepper, and stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened, 5-7 minutes. Add in the halved head of garlic, and the bay leaves, rosemary, sage & thyme – I like to leave the herbs whole, using kitchen twine to tie all the herbs together into a little bundle for easy removal. If you have an extra parmesan rind in your fridge, throw it on into the pot at this time too! Stir to combine.
- Simmer the soup: Pour the crushed tomatoes and chicken stock into the Dutch oven and stir to combine. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. Once the minestrone has simmered, add the sausage back into the pot, along with the beans and kale. Stir to combine well. Cook for another 5 minutes, until the sausage & beans are warmed through and the kale is wilted. Taste and season with additional Kosher salt & ground black pepper as needed – the amount you need totally depends on the saltiness of your sausage & your chicken stock, so be sure to taste & season as needed!
- Optional: Boil the pasta: Meanwhile, as the soup simmers, you can boil some pasta if you’d like to add it to your minestrone. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente according to package directions. Strain and set aside for serving.
- Serve! When you’re ready to serve your minestrone, remove & discard the herb bundle and the parmesan, if you used one. You can also remove & discard the garlic – but I like to carefully squeeze the cooked cloves of garlic out of the bulb & into the soup – YUM. Add some of your cooked pasta to the bottom of a large soup bowl. Ladle the minestrone over top. Finish with a sprinkling of grated parmesan and serve with some crusty buttered bread as desired. Enjoy!
- Dutch oven: I like making this minestrone, and all the soups & chilis I make, in a nice Dutch oven. The heaviness of the pot retains heat well & evenly. This is the Dutch oven pictured in this post. I love it. I also own this Dutch oven, which is a little more budget friendly & works great!
- Sausage: I love the spiciness of a good spicy Italian sausage in this minestrone! You can definitely use a mild Italian sausage, if you prefer, or a turkey Italian sausage. Turkey Italian sausage will render way less fat than a traditional beef & pork Italian sausage, so add extra olive oil as needed to brown the sausage & cook the aromatics in Steps 1-2.
- Garlic: A whole head?! Heck yes! It’s my favorite hack to adding TONS of flavor to store-bought stock with hardly any effort. Halve the head of garlic crosswise, exposing the cloves (pictured above). Use your fingers to rub off & remove any excess paper, then just toss it on into the pot! Remove the garlic when you serve the soup – or squeeze those cloves right into the soup for an occasional bite of garlicky heaven.
- Parmesan rind: While not at all necessary for making this minestrone delicious, you can toss a parmesan rind into the soup, & as it simmers it’ll infuse a rich, parmesan-y flavor into the soup that takes this minestrone completely over the top. You can freeze parmesan rinds as you make them for use in soups & stews. Whole Foods & other grocery stores with nice cheese sections also sell parmesan rinds.
- Pasta: Totally optional in this minestrone recipe! Sometimes I’ll add it in, sometimes I won’t. Totally depends on my mood! If you’d like to skip the pasta, I recommend cutting down the amount of stock you use in the soup Use it or not, your minestrone will still be delicious & hearty.
- Freezing minestrone soup: This recipe makes one BIG batch of minestrone, & it freezes really well. Let any leftover minestrone cool to room temperature before transferring into freezer-safe containers and freezing for up to 3 months. These are the ones I love to use! Be sure to freeze without any pasta in it, since the pasta will absorb liquid.
Keywords: hearty minestrone soup, minestrone soup recipe