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Winter Minestrone Soup Recipe

An easy winter minestrone soup inspired by Ina Garten.

Close up of bowl of Winter Minestrone Soup

I made this hearty minestrone soup last week. I had one of those particularly horrible days where I was so tired and a bit low. 

I had too much to tackle that day and felt overwhelmed. I did as much as I could and then I decided to comfort watch some Barefoot Contessa, to try and cheer myself up

Ina Garten was making minestrone soup for Jeffrey, which is something I make occasionally too, but she included butternut squash and spinach in her soup and it looked wonderful.

Winter Minestrone Soup in a patterned yellow & white bowl on a pale blue plate on a spotty blue napkin

Winter Minestrone Soup Recipe

I didn't write down Ina's recipe for winter minestrone, but I did remember the main ingredients and luckily I had everything I needed to make a large pot of soup.

This soup starts with the standard soup base of onion and garlic sauteed in olive oil until soft, then chopped carrots and butternut squash.

I also added canned cannellini beans, chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and red wine. Towards the end of cooking I added spinach and some mini pasta shapes.

When the soup was nearly ready, I seasoned it with salt and pepper and added a generous dollop of pesto. I like Sacla free-from pesto or make homemade pesto.

Soup toppings

One of the things I noticed about Ina's soup, is that she added toppings to her soup which is something I have to admit I never do.

In her honour I served this soup topped with a dollop of pesto and some grated Parmesan (vegan).

Vegetarian and vegan parmesan alternatives

If you're looking for a good strong vegan Parmesan, we like Violife Prosociano, which has that tang you want from a good Parmesan.

If you're vegetarian, check the budget hard cheese or pasta cheese beside the Parmesan in your supermarket, the home brand one. They are often vegetarian, whereas standard Parmesan uses animal rennet, something we all want to avoid.

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An easy winter minestrone soup inspired by Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa). The perfect filling starter or dinner. Suitable for vegetarian, dairy-free and vegan diets. #minestronesoup #winterminestrone #butternutsquashsoup #vegansoup #soupwithpesto #soupwithbeans #dairyfreesoup #soup #butternutsquash #spinach #carrots #cannellinibeans

Which pasta is best in soup?

The rule of thumb when adding pasta to soup is the thinner or lighter the soup the smaller the pasta. So when you are making a thick stew of a soup, you could add full size farfalle (bows), fusilli (twists), conchiglie (shells) or macaroni (twists or short pipes).

When you are making a thinner broth or a light summery soup, you want to use some mini pasta shapes, such as anelli (tiny hoops). alphabet pasta (tiny letters). orzo (rice shaped pasta), stelline (tiny star pasta), quadrettini (small squares) or margheritine (mini shells).

I used margherite pasta in this minestrone.

Soup pasta tip

If you have trouble finding mini pasta for soup, check the baby food aisle of the supermarket, as it will often include tiny pasta shapes or failing that you could just break spaghetti into small pieces.

How to prevent soggy pasta in soup?

When adding pasta to soup, think about the pasta cooking time. Don't add the pasta at the start of the soup, but add near the end when the soup is nearly ready to serve. 

Check the pack for cooking instructions. If it takes 8-10 minutes to cook, add it to the pot 8-10 minutes before the end of cooking time.

An easy winter minestrone soup inspired by Ina Garten

Winter soup recipes

Today is the spring equinox, the first official day of spring here in Scotland, but it is still blooming cold, so thick winter soups are still the order of the day. 

Here are some of my favourite warming soups:

sour winter soups

Yellow Split Pea Soup

A simple creamy and lightly spiced soup made with split peas that is full of flavour and super healthy. A great meal to take you through the year that's kind to your bank balance and your waistline.

Scottish Tattie, Neep and Carrot Soup 

A chunky filling (tattie) potato, (neep) turnip and carrot soup, perfect for cold Scottish winters. Scottish turnips are also called swede in England and Rutabaga in the US.

Hearty Spiced Cauliflower and Carrot Soup 

A simple but hearty soup rich with vegetables and lightly spiced for a warming bowl of deliciousness that will fill you up and leave you feeling satisfied at lunch or dinner. Cauliflower and carrots are the star of the show in this vegan and dairy free soup.

Spiced Carrot Lentil and Spinach Soup 

A gently spiced soup that has so much flavour. It's vegan and dairy-free and perfect if you are watching your weight. It's only 184 calories for a huge bowlful or 138 calories for a standard bowlful. I'm making this soup as part of my trip back into the 5:2 diet.

Winter Minestrone Soup topped with pesto and vegan parmesan

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Italian, vegan
Yield: 6-8 large servings
close up of Winter Minestrone Soup topped with pesto and vegan parmesan

Winter Minestrone Soup Recipe

An easy winter minestrone soup inspired by Ina Garten. Suitable for vegetarian, dairy-free and vegan diets
prep time: 12 minscook time: 30 minstotal time: 42 mins


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 red onion, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1/2 medium butternut squash, deseeded, peeled and diced
  • 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 400g tin cannellini beans, drained
  • 400g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 150ml/1/2 cup/1/4 pint red wine
  • 1135ml/2 pints/4 cups vegetable stock (3 stock cubes)
  • 2 tbsp tomato puree
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 2 large handfuls of fresh spinach or 2 cubes frozen spinach
  • 125g/1 cup margheritine pasta (or other mini soup pasta)
  • 2-3 tbsp pesto
  • a good grinding of salt and pepper
  • 1 heaped tsp pesto per bowl
  • 1 tsp vegan or veggie parmesan per bowl


  1. In a large pot, saute the onion and garlic in the olive oil until soft.
  2. Add the carrots and butternut squash and cook gently for a few minutes.
  3. Add the beans, tomatoes, wine, stock, tomato puree and herbs and cook for 20 minutes.
  4. Add the spinach and pasta and cook for another 8-10 minutes.
  5. Season with salt and pepper and stir in pesto.
  6. Serve in bowls topped with some pesto and grated cheese.
  7. Enjoy!
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Created using The Recipes Generator

Make this bread to serve with your homemade soup

homemade basic white loaf, with floured top on baking rack

An easy, basic white loaf with the tastiest crust. 
Prepare to make two as one doesn't last long at all.


  1. This looks like a bowl of deliciousness. I love winter soups that are hearty and delicious. This looks like an easy recipe to make and full of goodness.

  2. So many veggies, my favorite! I could see myself enjoying this on a cold winter day. Thank you for sharing! I'm adding it to my winter soup mix :)

    1. Yes soup is such a good way of improving how much veg you eat.

  3. Minestrone is such a comforting dish when you need a pick me up. A great way to get a good veggie boost.

    1. Yes I agree with you completely, a great veggie boost and so tasty.

  4. Such a hearty flavorful minestrone soup. Looks divine.

  5. Minestrone is one of my favorite soups, excited to try this one out!


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