November 29, 2010  |  By The International Kitchen
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Bowl of minestrone soup made during a cooking vacation in ItalyMinestrone is not really a recipe: it is an intuition based on what produce is in season, or what items are in your fridge. In the colder months it is a heavier dish with beans, a variety of greens, cabbages and pumpkin that is served hot and spicy. In the summer it is lighter, served cold and often garnished with pesto.

Year-round, minestrone preparation begins with the soffritto: onions, celery and carrots, garlic and fresh herbs sauteed in extra virgin olive oil. Maybe some diced pancetta. Avoid chicken stock or other broths – vegetables already have a delicious taste and salt, water, olive oil and herbs are enough.

Learn more recipes from Tuscany with one of our cooking vacations.


  • 1 clove of garlic
  • 1 hot chili pepper
  • 6 Tbs extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 brunch of rosemary
  • 4 bayleaves
  • 1 tsp of oregano
  • 4 medium carrots
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 1 red onion
  • 2 small leeks
  • 5 medium potatoes
  • 1/4 of Savoy cabbage
  • 1 brunch of beet greens
  • 2 – 3 zucchini
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 1/2 small cauliflower
  • 3 cups of diced pumpkin
  • Water to cover
  • 3 tsp of coarse sea salt

InstructionsFresh produce for a cooking class in Italy

To prep: chop/dice all of the vegetables, press the garlic, finely chop your herbs.

In a large pot saute the 6 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, garlic (pressed), chili, rosemary, the bay leaves and the oregano. Add the diced carrots, celery, onions and continue to saute until the onions are translucent. Add the diced leeks, potatoes, cabbage, beet greens- any other vegetables you’d like to incorporate into your minestrone. Once those have cooked for a few minutes, add hot water 4 fingers over the level of the vegetables. Cover and let simmer for 15 min.

Add diced zucchini, fennel, cauliflower and pumpkin (small dices as before) to the pot. Cook for another 30 min. Better if it rests for a few hours. Warm up before serving with fresh grated Parmesan cheese and a swirl of fresh extra virgin olive oil.

NB: other suggestions to add to the minestrone: peas, any kind of beans (already cooked separately, and without their boiling water). Pasta also is a nice addition, cooked separately and added only to the portion you are planning to eat, so as not to get soggy!

Serves 15

Buon Appetito!

By The International Kitchen
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