Smooth Minestrone and Pesto Soup

minestrone soup

I often say that I haven’t always enjoyed cooking. What sent me to the kitchen and started me clanging pots and pans together was my desire to have what I wanted to eat, when I wanted to eat it were my children. I had Minestrone soup before, but didn’t really start liking it a lot until we became frequent diners at the Olive Garden. Where we used to live, restaurant choices were not varied or plentiful. What you got in our town was the same thing you would get in the next town.

Because dining out can become quite expensive, I knew that if I wanted to continue enjoying this soup, then I would have to make it myself. I could eat it anytime I wanted and probably could make it a lot cheaper than I could buy it. Well, as usual, I was right. Just so you know, I’m right a lot! I just can’t help myself.

3597This soup combines my love of vegetables, pesto, and parmesan cheese all in one. If you’re not a pesto lover or have nut allergies, then skip the pesto and just make Minestrone Soup because it is still delicious. I will warn you that there is a lot of chopping, but believe me, the end result is definitely worth it. You may be able to get some help from the smaller cooks in the kitchen. River has often helped me chop zucchini using a dinner knife. It was chopped and ready to use when I needed it.

The Minestrone with Pesto Soup is a winner with everyone in our family. All of my children love the soup and Canyon can’t get enough. It freezes well, so I double the recipe every time I make it. Drop in visitors will be in for a treat when you serve it.

What You Need:

minestrone ingredients

measuring cooking oil

Set your stove on medium heat, measure the cooking oil, and add it to your soup pot. You may know me a little by now and the fact that I like to get as much of the chopping out of the way at the beginning. Rinse and clean/scrub all of your vegetables before starting.

cutting onions

I use sweet Vadalia onions. If they are not available to you, then some other sweet variety of onion will do and for that matter, just use an onion. Chop it up real fine, but leave a few larger pieces. Set aside.

chopped zucchini

Chop the zucchini in cubes or fours.

chopped leeks

I didn’t start cooking with leeks until I made this recipe. You should have seen me hunting them down at the grocery store. I’ve seen these often and never really knew what they were. Now, it seems like every few recipes I make calls for leeks. They sure have a way of flavoring a dish.

smashed garlic

Adding garlic makes cooking all worth while. Besides the fact I love its taste (try it for yourself), it has great health benefits (I’m not a doctor, so look it up), and bashing it with a knife releases minor tension (just bash a few, you’ll see), mixed and sauteed with a little olive oil, it can make just about any vegetable taste a little bit better.

chopped garlic

California Dreamin’! If you happen to be in northern California this summer, then check out the Gilroy Garlic Festival. One of the things I miss about California.

chopped carrots and celery

My children often eat carrot and celery sticks, but there is something about a chopped one that just sends chills of excitement through a child. Whenever I’m cutting either while cooking, I have to cut extra because they always want some. I’m glad they’re eating them, but remember, I don’t like to chop.

chopped potatoes

By this step, I get a little excited because I know the chopping session is almost over. I cut the potatoes into chunks and then cut a little more fine. I like keeping the skin on the potatoes. There is nutrients in “them thar skins.”

Let the cooking begin!

cooking onions
Add the onions…

cooking leeks

and the leeks to your soup pot and sauté for 5-6 minutes. This is pretty enough to eat. I can’t wait.

carrots and leeks

Add the carrots…

cooking vegetables

garlic, and celery to the onion and leek mixture. Stir to mix well. Let cook for about another five (5) minutes.

cooking vegetables

Stir in the potatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes.

vegetable stock

Add the vegetable juice and stir well until blended. It will look like a Bloody Mary, but this one is healthier for you and you can drive after eating it.

vegetable juice

Add the bay leaf, fresh thyme, and pepper, and mix well. Raise the cooking temperature to med-high/high for soup to boil. Once boiling through, reduce the temperature to med/low and simmer for another 10 minutes.

chopped tomatoes

Okay. Don’t hate me, but yes, there is one more ingredient to chop, but you can do this while the soup is simmering. Chop the tomatoes and set aside.


Once the soup has simmered for 10 minutes after adding the seasonings, you can now add the zucchini. If you’re using fresh peas, then add now too. If not, then add the frozen peas once the zucchini has cooked for about 5 minutes. Stir well after adding both the zucchini and the peas.

cooking soup

Now, add the tomatoes and stir into the soup well. Cover the soup pot, raise the cooking temperature to med-high/high, and allow the soup to boil for about 5 minutes more.

cooking canellini beans

Rinse the cannellini beans and add them to the soup pot. Measure out the pesto sauce and add to the soup. Stir the soup to mix in the beans and pesto well. Simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes and serve. You can also sprinkle a little parmesan cheese on top if desired.


Adapted from Complete Vegetarian

3 TBSP olive oil
1 large sweet onion
1 leek
2 carrots
1 stick celery
2 cloves garlic
2 red potatoes
7 cups V-8 spicy vegetable juice or broth
  1 bay leaf
1 fresh sprig of thyme
3/4 cup frozen peas
3 zucchini
3 medium tomatoes
1 can cannellini beans
3 TBSP pesto
parmesan cheese for serving


How You Do It
Warm the oil in a soup pot over medium heat.
Chop onions, zuchinni, leeks, garlic, carrots, celery and potatoes and set aside.
Once oil is heated, add the onions and leeks and saute for 5-6 minutes.
Add the carrots, garlic, and celery and cook for another 5 minutes.
Stir in the potatoes and cook for another 2-3 minutes.
Add the vegetable juice and stir well until blended.
Add the bay leaf, thyme, and pepper.
Raise the temperature for the soup to boil.
Once the soup is boiling, reduce the temperature and simmer for 10 minutes longer.
Chop tomatoes and set aside.
Add the zuchinni and peas (if using fresh and if not, then wait) and cook for about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes and peas (if using frozen), raise the temperature, cover the soup pot, and boil soup for 7 minutes more.
Reduce the temperature to low/med and add the cannellini beans and pesto, and simmer on low heat for about 10 minutes.
Serve in individual bowls and top with grated parmesan cheese.


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4 Responses to “Smooth Minestrone and Pesto Soup”

  • Oh my goodness, this looks DELISH!!! I absolutely love Olive Garden’s minestrone soup and if this recipe tastes anything like it, Im so trying this at home next weekend. :-) And looking at all those wonderful prep pics you included throughout the post made my stomach growl! Mmmmm!!!

  • Comment from Milk & Honey Mommy

    Prissy Mommy,

    I also liked (key word) the Minestrone Soup at Olive Garden which is why I searched out a recipe. This one is sooooo much better. No discount to Olive Garden because I will never refuse the opportunity to eat there, but I’m happy at home now :) w/this recipe! Let me know if you try it out and what you think.

  • Comment from Rana

    Milk and Honey Mommy,
    This soup looks wonderful. I’m going to add this to my winter soups. I’m sure this freezes pretty well too. Thanks for the new recipe.

  • Comment from Milk & Honey Mommy


    You’re welcome for the recipe. This soup freezes very well.

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