A steaming bowl of this vegan minestrone soup is one of life’s simple pleasures. My recipe takes a fun, Autumn twist on a traditional vegetable soup. We’re quickly entering a season where schedules are full, sleep is low and immune systems are not at their best. Why not give our bodies a much-needed immunity boost?
The word minestrone actually means big soup. It originated in Italy, and typically uses celery, onions, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, olive oil and pasta. It’s often topped with parmesan cheese, which is most often shredded, not powdered. It’s considered the ‘poor man’s soup’ as it doesn’t need meat and therefore can be made with whatever you have on hand.
Even Italians have their own take on this hearty soup because the ingredients vary depending on the region and season. I love that it was created to be made with fresh, seasonal ingredients to be changed depending on what’s fresh.
Minestrone Soup Ingredients
- Onion: I use yellow onions in most of my cooking since they are mild and warm.
- Garlic: Use real, whole garlic for the most robust flavor.
- Carrot: Use the carrot color of your choice to add a carotene boost to this soup.
- Celery: This simple vegetable packs a flavorful punch to any soup. Use the leaves from the full stalk for even more savory goodness.
- Cannellini Beans: These beans add a great boost of fiber and protein as well as calcium.
- Fire-Roasted Tomatoes: An easy way to add a bit of heat as well as flavor to this veggie soup.
- Butternut Squash: I love the buttery flavor and natural sweetness of butternut squash.
- Vegetable Stock: While homemade is best, you can find great store-bought options with real ingredients.
- Italian Seasoning: I splurge on a high-quality seasoning with real ingredients and a strong oregano flavor.
- Kale: A hearty superfood containing over 100% of the RDV of vitamin C.
- Basil Pesto: This optional ingredient elevates the final soup by adding a bit more flavor, pizazz and creaminess.
Easy Ingredient Swaps
Yellow onions are my go-to for soups, yet feel free to use the onion of your choice. If you can’t do onions, swap for a leek. The cannellini beans can be swapped with another white bean or kidney beans. Swap butternut squash with another squash, or even zucchini.
Kale adds a hearty flavor to this soup yet can be swapped with Swiss chard or spinach. I add fire-roasted tomatoes for a spicy kick yet regular canned tomatoes work great as well.
How to Make Slow Cooker Minestrone
With just a bit of effort, this hearty warm soup will be your dinner. This is how I make mine:
- Heat just a bit of olive oil (or the healthy fat of your choice) in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chopped onion then sauté until translucent. Add minced garlic and sauté until fragrant, stirring constantly.
- Add your sautéd ingredients to a crock pot along with everything but the kale and pesto. Cook on low for 8-10 hours or high for 4-5 hours. You’ll know it’s ready once the butternut squash and carrots are fork-tender.
- Stir in kale and basil pesto right before serving. The heat from the soup will nicely wilt the kale before you are ready to eat it, no need to cook it in the crock pot. Serve!
What Makes this Minestrone Soup Vegan?
The base of this soup is traditionally vegetable broth, so no need for heavy cream. While some people put cheese on top of the finished product, I’ve opted to keep it simple and make a cheese-less variety. I’ve also swapped the traditional pesto for my vegan basil pesto. Seriously, it’s so good!
I feel better when I limit my dairy intake. Honestly, the veggies and spices in this soup pack a lot of flavors! Kale is another addition to this vegan minestrone soup recipe, as it gives the soup an earthy flavor, while also upping the nutritional profile.
I have two kids and know how far cheesy toast can go with a meal, so I’ve added that as a side to make this recipe more kid-friendly. If it takes cheesy garlic bread to get them excited to eat their vegetables, I’m cool with that!
If you’re trying to go 100% vegan or plant-based, you can always use vegan butter and garlic in your toast or skip it altogether. Feel free to top your soup with vegan parmesan cheese.
Vegan Minestrone Soup FAQs
Minestrone is a bulked-up veggie soup. It contains hearty vegetables and beans/pasta to make a more filling result.
My delicious minestrone soup contains onion, garlic, carrots, celery, cannellini beans, fire-roasted tomatoes, butternut squash, vegetable stock and kale. I top it with vegan basil pesto for a creamy finish.
Easy! Add vegan cheese sprinkle, skip any heavy cream, and top with a vegan pesto of your choice. You won’t miss any dairy finishes in this delightful soup.
Vegan Minestrone Soup
- 1 tsp olive oil
- ½ yellow onion diced
- 1 cloves garlic cloves minced
- 1 carrot peeled and sliced
- 1 stalk celery sliced
- 1 cup cannellini beans drained and rinsed
- 15 oz fire-roasted tomatoes do not drain, 1 can
- 1 cup butternut squash diced
- 2.5 cups vegetable stock plus more if needed
- 1 tsp Italian seasoning
- 2 cups kale chopped
- 1 tbsp vegan basil pesto optional
- Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute for 3-5 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 30-60 seconds.
- Transfer to a slow cooker along with the carrots, celery, beans, diced tomatoes and their juice, butternut squash, vegetable broth, and dried Italian herbs. Cook on LOW for 8-10 hours or HIGH for 4-5 hours.
- Stir in the leafy greens and pesto. Taste and decide if you want more pesto (I always lean towards more is the way to go). The residual heat will cook the greens without turning them mushy. If the soup is too thick, add more broth.
- Cooked pasta can be added to the soup, if desired. Adding uncooked pasta to the slow cooker can also be done, but it may become too mushy with the long cooking time.
- You can also cook this on the stovetop. For step 2, just add the remaining ingredients to the pot. Allow to simmer for 30 minutes, or until butternut squash, carrots and celery are soft (break apart when you put a fork through them).
More Plant-Powered Soup Recipes
Soup is one of my fav meals, so I’ve got a lot of soup recipes to share! If you’re looking for some soup inspiration, look no further than this delicious list:
- Carrot ginger soup: Super creamy with just the right amount of spice, this soup is comforting and immune-boosting.
- Vegetable barley soup: Similar to this vegan minestrone soup, my vegetable barley soup is hearty, flavorful and full of veggies.
- Coconut Thai soup: I love the nutty coconut milk used in this fun soup recipe. This is one I often make for parties, and there are never any leftovers!
- Pumpkin soup: The ultimate fall soup. Make a big pot of this to go with your game day spread, or for a festive fall dinner party.
- Zoodles in a jar: This is my go-to fast food in a jar. Take real, whole food ingredients, delicious veggie broth and a mason jar, and you’ve got yourself a packed lunch.
- Roasted red pepper soup: You’ll be shocked that there’s no dairy in this soup! Decadent and useful as a side or the main course, this soup is comfort, fall vibes and satisfaction in a bowl.
- Split pea soup: This warming soup recipe brings up fond childhood memories. Add in any veggies on hand, and turn this into a hearty soup for a cold evening.