Classic Winter Minestrone from our Tuscany Culinary Vacation

December 11, 2020  |  By Peg Kern
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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 sautéed in extra virgin olive oil. Maybe some diced pancetta. You don’t need chicken stock or other meat 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.

Classic Winter Minestrone

Serves 15
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 60 minutes
Cook method: Simmer


  • 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

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

2. In a large pot sauté 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 sauté 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.

3. 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.

4. Other suggestions to add to the minestrone: peas or 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 that it does not get soggy!

Try another fall recipe for creamy mushroom soup.

Cook with us on one of our amazing cooking vacations in Italy. Or contact us and we’ll help you plan your next custom trip!

Buon Appetito!

By Peg Kern

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