This hearty vegan minestrone soup offers up a plant-based take on the classic Italian dish. Packed full of healthy veg, beans, and pasta shapes, you'll have yourself a filling meal that's also gluten-free.
The soup is a celebration of veg and colour, so feel free to throw in any seasonal ingredients that you have to hand. Think squash, cabbage, broccoli, or cauliflower, as well as any fresh herbs you fancy adding.
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What is minestrone?
Minestrone is a hearty soup of Italian origin that can be traced back to the early Roman period several thousand years ago.
Usually consisting of vegetables, beans, and pasta (or rice), you're likely to find a wide range of different variants and twists.
Is it usually vegan?
Some minestrone recipes include a meat-based stock or additions such as cheese, but apart from that it's often entirely plant-based. Needless to say, it's easy to create a vegan version by using a vegetable stock and seasonings such as herbs and nutritional yeast.
If you're not sure what nutritional yeast is, learn about it (and more) in this list of unusual vegan ingredients.
Is this recipe healthy?
This soup makes for a healthy meal that's low in calories, low in fat, and high in fibre and vitamins. One serving of this recipe provides:
- Calories: 241 kcal
- Protein: 11 grams (22% of RDA)
- Fibre: 9 grams (38% of RDA)
- Iron: 5 mg (28% of RDA)
(Amounts based on a third-party nutrition calculator)
Which pasta is best?
I've gone with dried macaroni (small tubes), but you could use any pasta shape you like. You can even take spaghetti and break it into smaller pieces when adding to the pan.
Since this recipe is gluten-free, I've used GF pasta. Another option would be to add a similar amount of rice and adjust the cooking time accordingly until the grains are tender.
Which beans should I use?
Although borlotti beans are supposedly the authentic choice, I've gone with cannellini beans (a.k.a. white kidney beans). You could use a similar creamy white variety such as haricot beans (a.k.a. navy beans) or stick to the traditional borlotti.
If you don't have these, try something like chickpeas or butter beans (or simply leave them out).
What you'll need
To make this hearty vegetable minestrone soup, you'll need:
- Mixed veg and tinned tomatoes
- White beans such as cannellini beans
- Dried pasta shapes to make it a more filling meal
- Seasoning in the form of dried mixed herbs, bay, and nutritional yeast
How to make vegan minestrone soup
Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and add the onion, carrot, and celery.
Season with salt and pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes until starting to soften, stirring regularly.
Stir in the garlic, yellow pepper, and courgette and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
Add the dried herbs, bay leaf, tinned tomatoes, vegan stock, and nutritional yeast. Break any whole tomatoes apart with a spoon.
Add a splash of water to the empty tomato cans and swirl around before adding to the pan. Mix well and bring to a simmer.
Once simmering, add the pasta shapes and cook on a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through, checking and stirring every now and then.
When the pasta shapes are nearly done, stir in the drained cannellini beans and spinach.
Cook for the final few minutes until the greens have wilted, then adjust the seasoning to taste and serve.
Enjoy this soup as it is, or with fresh bread (gluten-free if necessary). You could also serve with fresh basil or parsley, a squeeze of lemon juice, or a sprinkle of homemade cashew parmesan.
This recipe will be gluten-free provided you use a pasta and vegan stock that are certified or labelled as such. You could also use rice in place of the pasta.
This should keep well in the fridge for up to four days.
Store in the freezer for up to six months (note that the pasta may lose some of its texture after freezing).
Variations and tips for minestrone soup
- Herbs: If you don't have a herb mix, simply combine a few dried herbs such as sage, oregano, basil, thyme, or marjoram. You could also include any fresh herbs you have to hand.
- Greens: These could be anything from spinach to kale or beet greens (including frozen versions).
- Tomatoes: If using canned whole tomatoes, break these up thoroughly in the pan.
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Vegan Minestrone Soup (Gluten-Free)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery ribs, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
- 1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
- 1 medium courgette, diced
- 1½ tablespoons dried mixed herbs (see notes)
- 1 bay leaf
- 2x 14 oz (400 g) tins tomatoes
- 5-6 cups (1.2-1.4 litres) vegan stock
- 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
- 5 oz (150 g) gluten-free pasta shapes such as macaroni (see notes)
- 1x 14 oz (400 g) tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
- 3 oz (100 g) leafy greens such as spinach
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan on medium heat and add the onion, carrot, and celery. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 6-8 minutes until starting to soften, stirring regularly.
- Stir in the garlic, yellow pepper, and courgette and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
- Add the dried herbs, bay leaf, tinned tomatoes, vegan stock, and nutritional yeast. Break any whole tomatoes apart with a spoon. Add a splash of water to the empty tomato cans and swirl around before adding to the pan. Mix well and bring to a simmer.
- Once simmering, add the pasta shapes and cook on a gentle heat for 10-15 minutes or until cooked through, checking and stirring every now and then.
- When the pasta shapes are nearly done, stir in the drained cannellini beans and spinach and cook for the final few minutes until the greens have wilted.
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