Seriously, the Best-Ever Hearty Minestrone Soup!
This Hearty Minestrone Soup is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes. (Coming from a self-proclaimed 👸🏻Soup Queen👸🏻, that kinda says a lot, right?!)
Minestrone is a classic Italian soup that is too often served as a bland bowl of soggy vegetables. But – & there is a major BUT here – there’s nothing boring or bland about this hearty minestrone. It’s a recipe I’ve been making since my college days, well over 10 years ago.
Back then I especially appreciated being able to stretch a budget-friendly pot of soup into satisfying meals for the entire week. To this day, it remains one of my biggest recipe obsessions due to its seriously deep, rich flavor. I’m telling you, you’ll never taste a minestrone soup as bold & flavorful as this one!)
This incredible flavor comes from a couple of simple tweaks & additions to traditional minestrone. Italian sausage bulks up the soup, adding so much richness. Simple aromatics like fresh herbs, a whole head of garlic, & a parmesan rind to infuse even more bold flavor into the soup as it simmers.
Best of all, this hearty minestrone soup with sausage is a minimum effort-maximum reward recipe. It’s super easy to make, comes together quickly, & it’s especially meal prep-friendly. It’s the perfect cozy, flavorful, & filling meal perfect for soup season. You’re going to LOVE it!
Hearty Minestrone Soup with Sausage Recipe Highlights
This hearty minestrone soup recipe is perfect all winter long because it is:
- HEARTY & FILLING. Minestrone soup with sausage is a complete meal. It has plenty of protein from both the Italian sausage & white beans, plus tons of tasty veggies! Enjoy with some crusty buttered bread & this soup is well-balanced perfection.
- RICH & FLAVORFUL. The key to a rich soup like this hearty minestrone soup is to build layers of flavor in every step. We start with browned Italian sausage as a base of flavor, then use fresh garlic & an herb-infused broth made with delicious aromatics & a parmesan rind for extra richness. It’s anything but bland!
- WARM & COMFORTING. Snuggling up with a hot bowl of rich soup is what helps me get through the freezing Minnesota winters. (Trust me, it really gets freezing up here!) This hearty minestrone soup with sausage is the cozy antidote to even the coldest winter days.
If you only make one recipe this soup season, this better be it! ♡ Read on to learn more about how to make this Best-Ever Hearty Minestrone Soup, or jump straight to the recipe & get cooking!
What is Minestrone Soup?
Minestrone soup is the OG “clean-out-your-fridge” meal. As such, versions of minestrone vary quite a bit. It’s typically made with a ton of veggies, but ranges from light & brothy to super hearty. It’s the perfect dish to whip up with whatever you have on hand. So a minestrone soup recipe is going to look a little different based on whatever’s in season.
Typically, a minestrone soup today contains:
- Tons of veggies (onions, carrots, celery, zucchini…you name it!)
- Beans (typically kidney or white beans)
- Some type of grain (pasta is common, but you could also use lentils, quinoa, or whatever floats your boat)
- A light, tomato-y broth
My hearty minestrone soup checks all those boxes & then some: I bulk it up a bit with spicy Italian sausage & a ton of finely shredded kale, then infuse the tomato broth with a ton of fresh herbs & garlic. Each bowl is SO delicious.
How Do You Add Flavor to Minestrone Soup?
First of all, this is NOT your average minestrone soup recipe! In my experience, minestrone soup easily tends to be brothy, bland, & lacking in flavor. Not here! A few game-changing ingredients create a seriously hearty minestrone soup that bursts with flavor.
This minestrone is prepared all in one pot, building layers of rich flavor along the way. Browned Italian sausage kicks off this soup with a base of rich flavor. Then a generous amount of fresh herbs, a whole head of garlic, & a rind of parmesan cheese add that extra kick of flavor that every minestrone soup needs. No sad, bland minestrone here! This hearty minestrone soup with sausage is a flavor superstar.
Key Ingredients for Hearty Minestrone Soup
Note: Full ingredients list & measurements provided in the Recipe Card, below.
Aside from the usual vegetables & tomato broth in a traditional minestrone soup recipe, you’re going to need a few extra ingredients to make my hearty minestrone soup.
- Sausage – This is minestrone soup with sausage, after all! What kind of sausage is best for minestrone soup? I like using spicy Italian sausage, but a mild or sweet Italian sausage also works great too – use what you love best! No matter what type of Italian sausage you choose, it’s best to use full fat pork sausage here – its rich, round flavor creates a bold base of flavor for the entire pot of soup.
- A whole head of garlic – Yep, A WHOLE head of garlic. A trick I first learned from Tyler Florence, tossing a whole head of garlic into a pot of soup is one of my favorite soup season secrets. Cut a whole head of garlic in half crosswise, remove any excess papery peelings, & toss the whole darn thing into the minestrone. The garlic infuses so much flavor into the broth as it simmers!
- Fresh herbs – I like to use a combination of fresh rosemary, sage, & thyme, which is often packaged together as a ‘poultry blend’ at the grocery store.
- Parmesan rind – Another soup season secret weapon! A parmesan rind infuses rich, savory flavor into soups, sauces & stews. Check the Recipe Notes, below, for sourcing info!
- Pasta – If you want! This minestrone is so hearty that it doesn’t necessarily need pasta, but you can certainly add it! I recommend a small short noodle (like ditalini). Be sure to always boil & store the pasta separately to prevent it from drinking up all of the delicious broth & becoming soggy.
How to Make Hearty Minestrone Soup
Full Recipe Directions, including step-by-step photos, are included in the Recipe Card, below.
This hearty minestrone with sausage is super easy to make – it takes less than 1 hour! So let’s clean out your fridge & get cooking. You’ll have a healthy, satisfying dinner ready in no time.
Brown the Sausage. Start by adding spicy Italian sausage to a Dutch oven or large pot over medium-high heat. Cook a few minutes, browning the sausage so all of the juicy, flavorful bits start to cook & crumble. Once browned, transfer the sausage to a paper-towel-lined plate, but be sure to leave all of that delicious sausage fat in the bottom of the pan! It’s key to the next step. Why? ⇢ Using sausage helps bulk up this hearty minestrone soup recipe & adds a wonderful base layer of flavor.
Cook the aromatics. Use the rendered sausage fat at the bottom of the pan to cook our vegetables (why let that flavor go to waste?!). Toss in your onion, carrots, & celery. Once the veggies begin to soften, add the secret ingredients: a whole halved head of garlic, parmesan rind, & fresh herbs. Tip! ⇢ If you don’t mind a rustic soup, there’s no need to spend time finely chopping the fresh herbs! Leave the herbs whole instead, simply tying them together with kitchen twine to create a little bundle for easy removal.
Simmer. We’re building some incredible layers of flavor here. Now it’s time to let them all simmer together. Pour some crushed tomatoes & chicken stock into the Dutch oven, stir to combine, & let everything come to a boil. Once it’s boiling, reduce to a simmer for 20 minutes. That’s all it takes! Then all you need to do is add the cooked sausage back into the pot with your beans & kale, stirring well until everything is warmed through. Tip! ⇢ This is a great time to make use of whatever you have on hand in the kitchen. Have spinach instead of kale? Chickpeas instead of kidney beans? Some extra cooked veggies you need to get rid of? Throw them in!
It’s really that easy to make a hearty minestrone soup with just a few simple ingredients!
Serving & Storage Tips
Once the minestrone soup with sausage is simmered to perfection (trust me, you’ll know – your kitchen will smell absolutely heavenly!), simply remove & discard the spend herbs & parmesan rind. You can also discard the garlic, but I like to carefully squeeze the cooked cloves out of the bulb & into the soup. Every once in a while you’ll get a jackpot bite with a perfectly tender clove of garlic – it’s so good!
To make your hearty minestrone soup even heartier, serve it with some pasta. Be sure to boil the pasta separately, spoon it directly into your soup bowls, & ladle the soup over top.
*Golden Rule for Serving Soup with Pasta
When you cook & store a soup like hearty minestrone, always keep the pasta separate. It’s a tiny detail, but it makes a huge difference! Warm pasta soaks up liquids like broths & stocks like crazy. When it comes to soup, this results in soggy pasta in your leftovers & it also messes up the overall ratio of liquid in the soup. No good, but it’s simple to avoid. Simply store the pasta separately, then add it into your bowl when you reheat the minestrone. No more soggy pasta!
Since it’s the kind of dish that gets even better as it sits & its flavors meld together, this hearty minestrone soup with sausage is one of my all-time favorite recipes, especially for meal prepping an easy, cozy lunch to have on hand for a chilly week. So enjoy your hot bowl of hearty minestrone soup, but also feel free to save some for later. You can even make a double batch because of how well it stores!
Once your hearty minestrone soup is cooked & cooled, portion it out into individual airtight containers for a convenient grab-&-go lunch. This minestrone soup with sausage will keep stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat it easily & quickly in the microwave or on the stovetop until warmed through.
Once your hearty minestrone soup is cooked & cooled, you can also freeze for later. Transfer the minestrone with sausage to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions – these are my favorite! Freeze up to 3 months. From there, simply thaw it out, heat it up, & enjoy the easiest cozy soup dinner of all time!
Go ahead, make a double batch of Hearty Minestrone Soup…I promise you won’t regret it! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! If you do give it a try, be sure to let me know! Leave a comment with a star rating below. You can also snap a photo & tag @playswellwithbutter on Instagram. I LOVE hearing about & seeing your PWWB creations!Print
This Best-Ever Hearty Minestrone Soup with Sausage is absolutely packed with rich flavor thanks to a few secret ingredients: Italian sausage, a whole head of garlic, loads of fresh herbs, & a parmesan rind. It’s seriously flavorful, extra-cozy, & super-satisfying.
- 1 pound spicy Italian sausage (see Recipe Notes)
- olive oil, as needed
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 ribs celery, diced
- 1 head garlic, halved crosswise & excess paper removed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 (one) 0.75-ounce pack “poultry blend” fresh herbs (or approx. 2 sprigs fresh rosemary, 2 sprigs fresh sage, & 10–12 sprigs fresh thyme)
- optional: parmesan rind (see Recipe Notes)
- 1 (one) 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 64 ounces low-sodium chicken stock
- 2 (two) 14-ounce cans cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
- 1 bunch kale, destemmed & finely shredded (approx. 2 cups packed)
- optional: 1 cup ditalini or short pasta of choice, cooked according to package directions
- 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 & 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 & celery to the Dutch oven. Season with 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired. Stir to combine. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies are softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Build & simmer the minestrone: Once the veggies are softened, add in the halved head of garlic, & the bay leaves, fresh herbs (I like to leave the herbs whole, using kitchen twine to tie all the herbs together into a little bundle for easy removal), & parmesan rind (if using.), crushed tomatoes & chicken stock. Stir to combine. Increase the heat to medium-high to bring the mixture to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to maintain a steady simmer. Simmer 20 minutes.
- Optional: Boil 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 generously salted water to a boil. Add the pasta & cook to al dente according to package directions. Strain & set aside for serving.
- Finish the hearty minestrone soup: Once the minestrone has simmered, add the sausage back into the pot, along with the beans & kale. Stir to combine well. Cook an additional 5 minutes, until the sausage & beans are warmed through & the kale is wilted. Taste & season with additional kosher salt & ground black pepper as desired – the amount required depends on the saltiness of the sausage & chicken stock, so be sure to taste & season as needed!
- Serve: Just before serving, remove & discard the bay leaves, herb bundle & parmesan rind. 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…so good! To serve, spoon some of the cooked pasta to the bottom of a large soup bowl. Ladle the minestrone over top. Finish with a sprinkling of grated parmesan & serve with crusty buttered bread as desired. Enjoy!
- Ingredient Notes:
- Sausage: The spiciness of a good spicy Italian sausage is great in this minestrone! You can definitely use a mild Italian sausage, if you prefer, or a turkey Italian sausage. Turkey sausage renders much less fat than a traditional beef & pork Italian sausage, so be sure to add extra olive oil as needed to brown the sausage & cook the aromatics in Steps 1-2.
- Parmesan rind:A parmesan rind is the tough outer edge of a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, & it’s my absolute favorite soup season secret. Toss a parmesan rind into any cozy soup you make this cold season; as it simmers, it infuses a rich, parmesan-y flavor into the broth. It’s an easy way to add an extra depth of flavor to soups, stews, & sauces, especially when the recipe comes together quickly. Parmesan rinds are usually sold at cheese shops or grocery stores with a more curated cheese selection (I buy mine at Whole Foods). Store them in your freezer all soup season long!
- Storage, Reheating, & Freezing:
- Storage & Reheating: This hearty minestrone soup is incredibly make-ahead friendly – it stores so well & it’s one of those things that gets even better as it sits & its flavors meld together. Transfer the cooled soup to an airtight container & store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat the soup on the stovetop or in the microwave until warmed through.
- Freezer Instructions: This hearty minestrone soup is also incredibly freezer-friendly. Transfer the cooled soup to a freezer container or divide between multiple freezer containers for smaller portions. Freeze for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the frozen tomato soup in the refrigerator overnight or submerge the freezer container in room temperature water for a quicker thaw. Easily reheat on the stovetop.
- Reminder ⇢ Pasta Storage: If you made pasta for your minestrone, store it in a separate airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s so important to store pasta separately – if left in broth or stock for a long period of time, it 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.
- 15-Minute Meal Prep: All of the prep work involved in this recipe is chopping veggies. Chop them all in advance, storing in airtight containers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. When you’re ready to prep your soup, all you have to do is get cooking – seriously so easy!:
- Dice 1 large yellow onion, 2 medium carrots (peel as desired), & 2 ribs celery. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Destem & finely shred 1 bunch kale. Transfer to a zip-top bag, removing as much air as possible. Store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
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