Il Minestrone

Minestrone Soup


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Italian Regional Cookbook

The Italian Regional Cookbook

By Valentina Harris

Published 2017

  • About

This comforting, substantial soup is one of the great specialities of Lombardy. Made with a combination of vegetables and beans, it can be thickened with rice, pasta or semolina to turn it into the ‘big soup’. In summer it is served cold or at room temperature, and hot or cold it is delicious when finished off with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a dusting of freshly grated Parmesan. If using dried borlotti beans, you will need to soak them overnight before you begin.


  • 200 g/7 oz fresh or dried borlotti beans, soaked overnight
  • about 1 litre/ pints/4 cups water or unsalted stock
  • 60 ml/4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp chopped fresh flat leaf parsley
  • 300 g/11 oz green vegetables, such as spinach, cabbage, Swiss chard, lettuce leaves or spring greens/collards, chopped
  • 2 courgettes/zucchini, chopped
  • 1 potato, cubed
  • 1 carrot, chopped
  • 200 g/7 oz/ cups short stubby pasta, such as cannolicchi or Ave Marie, or 200 g/7 oz/1 cup long grain rice
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • 30-45 ml/2-3 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese, to serve


  1. If using dried beans, put the soaked beans in a pan and cover with cold water. Bring to the boil and boil for 5 minutes. Drain and rinse.
  2. Put the fresh or boiled, dried beans in a large pan and cover generously with water or unsalted stock. Bring to the boil, then simmer for up to 30 minutes, adding more water or stock if too much of the liquid evaporates, until tender: the cooked beans should not be falling apart, and there should be about 550 ml/18 fl oz/ cups liquid left at the end of the cooking time.

  3. Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the onion gently for 5 minutes, or until soft.
  4. Strain the cooked beans, reserving the liquid. Add the beans to the onion and stir together well.
  5. Add the parsley, the green vegetables, courgettes, potato and carrot. Fry together gently, adding about 45 ml/3 tbsp liquor from the boiled beans to moisten.

  6. Cook for 40 minutes, until the vegetables are starting to soften, then pour in the remaining bean liquor to cover, reduce the heat and simmer slowly for 30 minutes, stirring often, until the vegetables are soft. Add some extra water if necessary.
  7. Season to taste and add the pasta or rice. Cook gently until the pasta or rice is cooked.

  8. Remove from the heat, and allow to stand for 5-10 minutes.
  9. Ladle into soup bowls and serve sprinkled with a little Parmesan cheese.