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PopPop’s Minestrone Soup

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Once you make this homemade minestrone soup recipe, you will never try another one. It’s brimming with fresh vegetables and pasta in a savory broth. There is nothing better than PopPop’s minestrone soup on a cold night after a long day. It warms you up from the inside out, just like home cooking should. 

A bowl of minestrone soup with bread on the side.

I Never Tasted a Minestrone Soup I Liked… 

A year after I started dating my husband, he asked me to fly home to Connecticut with him to meet his parents. He comes from an Italian family (on both sides), so family and food mean everything to them. I had heard about the incredible food his mom and dad loved to cook and I was excited to finally try it. 

After a long day of travel from San Diego, California, to Connecticut, we got to my husband’s childhood home. His parents were there to welcome us. We made our way into the kitchen and on the stove, his dad was stirring a big pot of soup. It smelled amazing! Since this was my first time on the east coast and it was November, to say I was freezing would be a colossal understatement. There was nothing more I wanted than to sit down to a warm bowl of delicious soup. My husband asked his dad what was in the pot and he said, “Minestrone soup.”  

Although I had a smile on my face when his dad answered, my heart sank. Here’s the thing… I love soup, but if you would have asked me back then what my least favorite soup was, my answer would have been (without hesitation) minestrone soup. At this point in my life, I had not tried a minestrone soup that I liked. To me, it tasted like watered-down spaghetti sauce with mushy vegetables and pasta in it. Often times it also seemed over seasoned with Italian spices to me. I didn’t see the attraction to it, at all. 

Until I Tried This One

As we sat down at the table and I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to eat the soup. I would say it was delicious and hope that I never had to eat minestrone soup again for the rest of my life. When my bowl was put in front of me, I could hardly believe my eyes. There were so many fresh vegetables and greens in it! I could see beans and just the right amount of pasta and broth. It looked delicious! 

Just wait, I thought to myself. Don’t get excited. It may look different than other minestrone soups you’ve tried, but I’m sure it’s going to taste the same. I sprinkled a little parmesan cheese on top (because cheese always makes everything taste better) and took my first spoonful. It was as if I had died and gone to minestrone soup heaven. This soup tasted, unlike any other minestrone soup I had ever tried. It was outstanding!

Of course, before going to bed that evening, I asked my husband’s dad for the recipe. After trying many other lacklustre minestrone soup recipes before I tried this one, I was not going to leave without getting the recipe. His dad kindly obliged and gave me a copy of his recipe.  I knew that from that night forward, my husband’s dad’s recipe was the only minestrone soup recipe I’d ever make and eat ever again. Twenty-five years later, I can say, I have never made or eaten any other minestrone soup. PopPop’s (the name his grandchildren affectionately use for him) Minestrone Soup is the only one for me. 

What’s in PopPop’s Minestrone Soup

Basket full of fresh vegetables on the kitchen counter.

  • Butter
  • Olive oil
  • Pancetta
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Green cabbage
  • Escarole or Swiss chard
  • Beef broth
  • Cannellini beans
  • Red kidney beans
  • Garbanzo beans (or chickpeas)
  • Tomatoes
  • Zucchini
  • Fresh basil
  • Fresh parsley
  • Garlic
  • Thyme
  • Salt and pepper
  • Ditalini pasta (or elbow macaroni)
  • Parmesan or Romano cheese

Kidney, Cannellini, and Garbanzo beans in a colander with a wooden spoon on the side.

Although the ingredient list is long, I promise you, together this all makes the most incredible minestrone soup you’ll ever eat. Yes, there is a lot of chopping. However, on a cold evening, I love to put on some music, pour a glass of wine, and chop away in the kitchen. This is also a great recipe to make together as a couple or as a family. Everyone can contribute to making this soup, the more the merrier!

How to Make PopPop’s Minestrone Soup

In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil. Saute the pancetta and onion in olive oil and butter until the onions are translucent and the pancetta is brown. Next, add the carrot, celery, cabbage, and escarole to pancetta and onions; saute for about 2 minutes. Then, add the beef broth and the beans. Cover the pot and simmer on low for about 30 minutes. Afterward, add potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, and basil. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently. Finally, add parsley, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Lower heat, cover, and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Bring a large pot filled with water (that has been generously salted) to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box until “al dente.” Drain the pasta.

To serve the minestrone soup, spoon about 1/4 cup of pasta into the bowl. Ladle soup over the pasta and sprinkle with fresh grated Parmesan or Romano cheese and fresh parsley on top.

If the soup thickens more than you like, add a little hot water.

Minestrone soup in a pot with a wooden spoon on the side.

(As the Italians say…) Mangia!

This minestrone soup recipe is the best you’ll ever taste. Serve some garlic bread alongside it or a grilled cheese sandwich and a fresh green salad. It’s a healthy, hearty, comforting, and delicious meal. PopPop’s minestrone soup is perfect for a cold Fall or Winter night. I hope you and yours love it as much as we do here on the farm. Should you have soup leftover, because it does make a lot, store it in an airtight container. It freezes beautifully. 

If you are looking for more delicious soup recipes, you may want to check these out too:

Creamy Cauliflower Soup with Basil Olive Oil

Mexican Chicken Soup

Italian Wedding Soup

Decadent Lobster Bisque

Bon Appetit!

Don’t forget to join me on Pinterest and Instagram for more farmhouse inspiration and fun. See you there! 

A bowl of minestrone soup with bread on the side.
Yield: 6-8 servings

PopPop's Minestrone Soup

Prep Time: 30 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time: 2 hours

Once you make this homemade minestrone soup recipe, you will never try another one. It's brimming with fresh vegetables and pasta in a savory broth. There is nothing better than PopPop's minestrone soup on a cold night after a long day. It warms you up from the inside out, just like home cooking should. 

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup salted butter
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 4 ounces diced pancetta
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup celery, diced
  • 1 medium head green cabbage, shredded
  • 2 cups raw escarole or swiss chard, chopped
  • 64 ounces beef broth
  • 1 cup canned Cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup canned red kidney beans, rinsed and drained 
  • 1 cup canned garbanzo beans (or chick-peas) rinsed and drained
  • 2 medium Russet potatoes, diced
  • 2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1 cup zucchini, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh basil leaves, chopped OR 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped and divided
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground thyme
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 2 cups ditalini pasta (elbow macaroni can be substituted)
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Instructions

  1. In a large pot, heat butter and olive oil. Saute the pancetta and onion in olive oil and butter until the onions are translucent and the pancetta is brown.
  2. Add carrot, celery, cabbage, and escarole to pancetta and onions; saute for about 2 minutes.
  3. Add beef broth and beans. Cover and simmer on low for about 30 minutes.
  4. Add potatoes, tomatoes, zucchini, and basil. Cook over medium heat stirring frequently.
  5. Add parsley, garlic, thyme, salt, and pepper. Lower heat, cover, and simmer the soup for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  6. In a large pot, bring water that has been generously salted to a boil. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box until "al dente." Drain pasta.
  7. To serve, spoon about 1/4 cup of pasta into the bowl. Ladle soup over the pasta and sprinkle Parmesan cheese and fresh parsley on top.

Notes

The pasta can also be cooked in the soup. Bring the soup to a boil and add pasta into it. Cook the pasta until it's "al dente."

Pinterest Pin for Minestrone Soup.

 

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