This simple Summer Minestrone soup is filled with tomatoes, zucchini, cannellini beans, pasta and lots of basil!
Minestrone is one of those soups that can so easily evolve with the seasons. This Summer Minestrone is zucchini, tomato and basil forward, with lots of fresh basil and some basil pesto stirred into the soup.
Pasta is a must for me in any minestrone soup, but I swapped out the classic red kidney beans for cannellini beans (white kidney beans). And finally, I also tried not to cook the vegetables too much, keeping them with just a touch of bite.
This vegetable-rich soup is soul-soothing and a celebration of the bounty of Summer. Lovely enjoyed hot or just lightly warmed, this soup is also vegetarian and vegan friendly!
Ingredients and Substitutions
Zucchini – this Summer Minestrone is a zucchini-forward soup, but you’ll need just one large or two small fresh zucchini.
Tomatoes – Canned diced tomatoes are an easy addition, but if you have a wealth of Summer tomatoes from your garden or the market on hand, absolutely go ahead and replace the canned diced tomatoes with 4 cups of fresh, diced tomatoes (peeled or unpeeled).
Chicken or Vegetable Broth – you can use either chicken or vegetable broth for this soup.
Cannellini Beans – also known as white kidney beans. Be sure to drain and rinse well before using. You can use red kidney beans in place of the white kidney beans if that’s what you have on hand.
Fresh Basil – this Summer Minestrone benefits from the handful of fresh basil. If fresh basil isn’t available, replace it with dried basil leaves.
Basil Pesto – I love to stir a Tablespoon of pesto into the soup right at the end, but it’s not a deal breaker if you don’t have pesto on hand. Simply omit.
Pasta – I’ve used orecchiette pasta here, but any small pasta such as macaroni, ditalini or shells will work just fine, as would orzo, for a less traditional option.
Parmesan Rind – I have been collecting my Parmesan rinds for just this occasion, but no worries if you don’t have one on hand. Simply omit.
Here are all the ingredients prepared for the pot …
Add some green beans or fresh or frozen peas to the soup with the canned beans.
Stir some baby spinach, kale or chard into the soup, Kale and chard take a little longer to cook in the soup, so add them with the zucchini, while baby spinach needs only a few minutes, so can be added at the end with the beans.
- Heat a little olive oil and add carrots, onion and celery. Cook 3-4 minutes to soften, then add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook another 30 seconds.
- Add tomato paste and cook with the vegetables for about a minute.
- Add canned diced tomatoes and vegetable or chicken broth.
- Add the zucchini to the pot and bring the soup to a boil.
- Add the pasta to the soup.
- Add the fresh basil to the pot and allow to simmer gently 10-15 minutes or until the pasta is just tender.
- Add the beans to the soup and allow to simmer for another 5 minutes or so.
- Add a bit more fresh basil to the soup.
- Finish the soup with the basil pesto. Be sure to taste the soup at this point and add additional salt and pepper, as needed.
As with all soups, proper seasoning can make or break your soup, so be sure to taste the soup at the end of cooking and add additional salt and pepper, as needed. If you taste it and it tastes flat or you feel like “it needs something”, what it needs is more salt :)
How to Serve Summer Minestrone
Serve the soup simply, with some chopped fresh basil and some grated Parmesan. You could also drizzle with a bit of extra virgin olive oil, sprinkle with a few more red pepper flakes or add a dollop of pesto on top. Minestrone is also nice spooned over toasted, crusty bread.
This soup is lovely just warm or hot, with some crusty buttered bread.
Storing and Freezing
Refrigerate this minestrone soup up for up to 4 days or freeze for up to 3 months. It may thicken slightly as it sits, but you can add a splash of water or broth to loosen it up.
Tip! For freezing, portion into individual portions, to have a bowl of soup at the ready at any time.
Get the Recipe: Simple Summer Minestrone
- 1 Tablespoon Extra virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup onion, diced
- 1/2 cup carrot, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly into half rounds
- 1/4 cup celery, cut in half lengthwise, then sliced thinly into half rounds
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- 28 oz canned diced tomatoes, with juice, or 4 cups of chopped fresh tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth, or water, plus more broth or water as needed to thin as the soup cooks
- 2 cups zucchini, unpeeled, cut into quarters lengthwise, then thinly sliced into half rounds
- Parmesan rind, optional
- 1 cup Orecchiette pasta, or similar small pasta
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper
- 19 oz Cannellini beans (white kidney beans), drained and rinsed
- 1/4 cup Fresh Basil, chopped, plus more to finish soup and for garnish or about 1 Tablespoon dried basil leaves
To finish soup:
- 1 Tablespoon Basil Pesto
- 1-2 Tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
- Salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed
For serving soup:
- Freshly grated Parmesan
- fresh basil, chopped
- Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery and carrots and cook, stirring, about 3-4 minutes to soften. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook stirring 30-45 seconds, then add the tomato paste. Stir and cook the tomato paste with the vegetables for about 1 minute.
- Add the canned tomatoes to the pot, along with the broth, zucchini and Parmesan rind, if using. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
- Add additional broth or water to the pot as it cooks, if it looks too thick. I often find I need to add a bit more water after adding the pasta, as it will soak up liquid as it cooks.
- Once soup is boiling, add the pasta and fresh basil to the pot. Also add the salt and pepper. Reduce heat slightly to medium (or a touch lower) and allow the soup to simmer about 10-15 minutes, or until the pasta is just tender, stirring once or twice. Add the beans to the pot and simmer another 5 minutes.
- Finish the soup with a bit more fresh basil and the pesto. Taste the soup and add additional salt and freshly ground pepper, as needed. If the flavours taste flat or you feel like "it needs something", what it needs is more salt :)
- Serve hot or just warm, garnished with Parmesan and more fresh basil. You could also drizzle with a bit of olive oil, add a dollop of pesto and/or add some red pepper flakes. Minestrone soup is also lovely spooned over toasted crusty bread.
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Hi! I’m Jennifer, a home cook schooled by trial and error and almost 40 years of getting dinner on the table! I love to share my favourite recipes, both old and new, together with lots of tips and tricks to hopefully help make your home cooking enjoyable, stress free, rewarding and of course, delicious!