Olive Garden does a lot of things well, but soup is definitely on the shortlist. And their minestrone just might be at the very top of that list. Though it’s vegetarian, it’s plenty hearty, and thanks to seven different veggies and two kinds of beans it’s a veritable rainbow of flavor. You can head to the restaurant and order a bowl, sure, but it’s also very easy (and more economical) to recreate at home. That way you can have a big batch of (delicious!) soup to turn to all week long.
I love this minestrone because it’s just so bright and fresh! There are a fair amount of veggies involved – not enough that it the list is overwhelming, but enough that it feels vibrant. You start by sauteeing a few of them – onions, celery, carrot, and zucchini – until they’re tender…
… and then stirring in some tomato paste and diced tomatoes along with some broth and a few herbs.
Once that comes to a simmer, you stir in kidney beans, white beans, green beans, and shell pasta and let it bubble until the pasta is nice and tender.
A little fresh spinach stirred in and you’re ready to serve.
Because there’s a fair amount of components, every bite of this tastes a little different. Sometimes you get the chewy bite of pasta, sometimes you get a soft kidney bean, sometimes the crunch of celery… but all of it is swimming in a delicious tomato-ey broth that every ingredient has lent its flavor to.
Maybe this particular version of minestrone started out in a restaurant, but I think it works best in the home kitchen, where you can make a big batch that you can tuck into anytime you want a bowl of something nutritious but filling and most importantly, delicious.
Copycat Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
Serves 6; 5 minutes prep, 20 minutes cook time
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled, quartered and sliced
- 1 zucchini, halved and sliced
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 1/4 cup tomato paste
- 1 (14 oz) can diced tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (15 oz) can white beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 1/2 cup frozen cut green beans
- 1/2 cup small shell pasta
- 2 cups baby spinach leaves
- Fresh parsley, chopped, for garnish
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion, celery, carrots, and zucchini and cook until tender, 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
- Stir in tomato paste, then add tomatoes, broth, Italian seasoning and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.
- Add white beans, kidney beans, green beans, and pasta. Simmer until pasta is al dente, 10-12 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and pepper and stir in spinach leaves and let cook until wilted.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and serve!
Recipe adapted from Dinner at the Zoo.