Minestrone soup with rice and kale makes for a healthful go-to during the chilly winter months. This unique spin on classic Minestrone is comforting and easy to make!
For me, Minestrone soup is one of those objectively delicious wins.
It’s one of those recipes I make frequently throughout the fall and winter because it’s so easy, so cozy.
I eat it when I feel great, I eat it when I feel not-so-great, I eat it to feel great, and I always feel great afterwards.
While there are certain basics that should always be included in a classic minestrone soup, I love that it can easily be customized to fit your personal preference and dietary preferences.
This hearty soup is a great way of using up your produce while enjoying a hearty Italian soup with so much flavor.
What’s in Minestrone Soup?
Minestrone soup originated from Italy and is a brothy soup with vegetables (such as tomatoes, carrots, celery, onion, etc.), pasta or rice, and often beans.
I’ve seen all sorts of takes on minestrone. Some recipes call for zucchini, some call for noodles, others call for green beans, and I’ve even seen corn. Some recipes call for 3 different types of beans, some with ham, most with a parmesan rind.
Rather than making minestrone soup with noodles, I like making my minestrone soup with rice as a simple matter of preference. Feel free to add 1 cup of dry pasta noodles instead.
I added kale to this soup for extra nutrients. I also took a 2-bean approach with kidney beans and garbanzo beans.
For the vegetables, I did the holy trinity – carrots, celery, onion – as well as some squash. If you have random veggies in your refrigerator or CSA box, toss them in!
Let’s discuss the fresh ingredients to make minestrone soup.
Ingredients for Minestrone Soup:
Vegetables: Yellow onion, carrots, celery, zucchini, yellow squash, diced tomatoes and kale. These are the vegetables I chose to include, but potatoes, peas, and green beans are also customary.
Beans: Red kidney beans and garbanzo beans make this soup so hearty with lovely bursts of texture. White beans or cannellini beans are also common in minestrone soup recipes. You can pick and choose your favorite beans.
Liquid: Vegetable broth and a little white wine make up the broth portion of this recipe. If you prefer chicken broth or chicken stock, you’re welcome to make the switch. If you don’t cook with wine, feel free to skip it.
Parmesan Rind: The majority of minestrone soup recipes you’ll find on the internet or enjoy at restaurants includes parmesan rind. The rind gets cooked into the broth, creating a creamy consistency with a thicker texture. In my opinion, it makes a big difference in creating a subtle nuance to the taste and texture.
No need to go buying parmesan cheese just for the sake of this soup, if you don’t want to, though. You can get along just fine without it.
Seasonings: Italian seasoning, dried basil, dried parsley, black pepper and sea salt are the seasonings I use in my minestrone soup recipes. If you have other dried herbs or fresh herbs you love, such as dried oregano, fresh parsley, dried sage, etc., feel free to add them in.
- For a grain-free version, leave out the rice or use quinoa.
- If you like noodles, toss them in. All shapes are welcome, including tortellini.
- Add one bay leaf if you have it on hand.
- If you’re into chicken, sausage, or ham, chop it up and toss it in the stock pot.
- Cabbage? Yes please. Add ½ head of thinly sliced cabbage to the pot if you like it.
- Swap the diced tomatoes for 1 (8-oz) can of tomato sauce if you’d like.
- Use red wine instead of white wine, or omit the wine altogether.
- Substitute in any of your favorite fresh vegetables.
- Use one cup of dry regular pasta or gluten-free pasta noodles instead of rice.
- To make vegetarian minestrone soup (or vegan) omit the parmesan rind. Traditional parmesan cheese is made using an animal-based rennet from cows so not all brands are vegetarian.
- For a spicy kick, add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes.
Now that we’ve covered the basic ingredients and world of possibilities for this minestrone recipe, let’s make it!
How to Make Minestrone Soup:
Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large pot (I use a Dutch oven) and add the onion. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the carrots and celery. Cover, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but are still al dente, about 5-8 minutes.
Stir in the rice, garlic, squash, seasonings, and salt and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
Pour in the diced tomatoes, beans, broth, wine, and parmesan rind, and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook for 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Taste soup for flavor and add more salt to taste.
Add the chopped kale, cover, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
Serve soup with grated parmesan cheese, fresh parsley and crusty bread and a side salad.
I love the soup with Gluten-Free Cornbread and a dusting of freshly-grated parm.
Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.
And that’s it! A cozy, comforting easy minestrone soup recipe the whole family will enjoy!
Make big batches of this vegetable soup for meal prep, or for special occasions to serve guests as a side dish.
For those who prefer cooking in their slow cooker, you can simply add all of the ingredients to your crock pot and cook on High for 3 to 4 hours. This recipe can also be prepared in an electric pressure cooker by pressure cooking on high for 10 minutes, then doing a quick release.
If you love this easy soup recipe, also try my Sicilian Chicken Soup.
Looking for more healthy soup recipes? Try these out.
More Healthy Soup Recipes:
- Vegan Butternut Squash Soup with Crispy Sage
- Sweet Potato and Quinoa Stew
- Jamaican Chickpea Stew
- Crock Pot Tunisian Lentil Stew
- Coconut Curry Vegetable Soup
- Thai Coconut Soup with Vegetables
- Creamy Vegan Mushroom Soup
Bottomless bowls of minestrone on repeat!
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 stalks celery, chopped
- 1/3 cup uncooked brown rice
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 medium zucchini squash, chopped
- 1 medium yellow squash, chopped
- 2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste*
- 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes, un-drained
- 1 (14-ounce) can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 (14-ounce) can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 1/4 cup dry white wine, optional
- 1 parmesan rind, optional
- 1 large head kale, chopped, any type will work!
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat and add the onion. Saute, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 8 minutes.
- Add the carrots and celery, cover, and continue cooking, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened but are still al dente, about 8 minutes.
- Add the rice, garlic, squash, seasonings, and salt and cook until garlic is fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Add the diced tomatoes, beans, broth, wine, and rind, and bring to a full boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook 30 to 40 minutes, until vegetables are soft. Taste soup for flavor and add more salt to taste.
- Add the chopped kale, cover, and cook until wilted, about 3 minutes.
- Serve soup with grated parmesan cheese and fresh parsley.
*Cut back on the sea salt if you're using diced tomatoes and/or broth that is salted
**Omit the Parmesan to keep this recipe vegan.
Nutrition InformationYield 4 Serving Size 1 of 4
Amount Per Serving Calories 391Total Fat 13gUnsaturated Fat 0gCarbohydrates 54gFiber 13gSugar 17gProtein 15g
I originally shared this recipe on January 9, 2017. I updated the photos and added some information to the post but the recipe itself remains the same.