How to make minestrone soup

This delicious take on a classic Italian recipe involves making your own homemade chicken stock and is packed with seasonal veg and hearty, comforting flavours. Made in just six easy steps, there's even the option to make this recipe gluten-free – simply swap out the spaghetti for risotto rice or quinoa. Don't forget to grab a screenshot of the ingredients list at the bottom for when you go shopping.

  1. Prep the stock

    For the stock, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Brown 1kg chicken drumsticks in batches, then return to the pan along with 1 roughly chopped leek, 2 roughly chopped carrots, 2 roughly chopped celery sticks, 1 halved onion, a handful of parsley, 4 thyme sprigs, 2 bay leaves and ¼ tsp black peppercorns. Cover with 1.5ltr water and bring to the boil.

  2. Skim and simmer

    Using a large metal spoon, skim the scum from the surface (repeat as needed during cooking). Push the ingredients down with the back of your spoon, submerging fully in the liquid, then reduce the heat to low and simmer for 2 hrs.

  3. Strain the stock

    Strain the stock through a sieve into a large bowl or jug and discard the rest of the ingredients – or see our Delicious spins (below) for using up the chicken. If not using immediately, leave the stock to cool then chill for up to 2 days, or freeze for up to 3 months (see our Expert tips below).

  4. Cook the veg base

    To make the soup, heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat. Add 1 diced onion, 1 diced celery stick, 1 diced carrot and 200g diced swede and cook for 10 mins, or until softened. Stir in 2 finely chopped garlic cloves and the leaves of 4 thyme sprigs, then cook for 2-3 mins more.

  5. Add the liquid, beans and pasta

    Stir in 1 tbsp balsamic vinegar and 1 tbsp tomato purée, then add 400g tin of plum tomatoes. Cook for 5 mins before breaking up the tomatoes with a spoon. Add 1ltr stock and 400g tin of borlotti beans, drained. Bring to the boil, then add 50g spaghetti, broken into pieces, and cook for 5 mins.

  6. Finish and serve

    Add the shredded leaves of ½ Savoy cabbage and continue cooking for 5 mins. Season to taste, then stir in 30g shredded basil. To serve, ladle the soup into bowls and scatter over freshly grated Parmesan, extra basil leaves and a little freshly ground black pepper.

    Minestrone soup step 6 (LGH)

  7. Delicious spins

    Delicious spins

    Tortelloni minestrone: Swap the beans and pasta for 1 x 450g pack spinach and ricotta tortelloni. Add with the cabbage and cook for 5 mins.

    Chicken and pancetta minestrone: Omit the oil and fry smoked pancetta cubes before adding the vegetables. Shred the chicken from the stock and stir into the soup once it’s cooked.

    Gluten-free minestrone: Use 50g risotto rice or quinoa in place of the spaghetti.

    Expert tips

    Make the most of your leftovers and use a whole chicken carcass left from a roast to make the stock. Simply add it along with the veg and water, simmering for the same amount of time.

    The stock can be frozen for up to 3 months. If you have any left after making your soup, freeze in ice cube trays to add to recipes that call for small amounts of stock.

    In step 4, cook the veg for up to 20 mins, which will increase the depth of flavour, but don’t overcook it – the vegetables should be softened, but not browned, and still have some bite to prevent the soup from turning too mushy.

    Freezing and defrosting guidelines

    The minestrone can be frozen for up to 3 months. This can even improve the flavour, though the pasta will swell a little. Allow to cool before pouring into a lidded freezer-proof container. Reheat either from frozen or defrost in the fridge overnight. Once piping hot, add toppings or garnishes and serve.

  8. Ingredients

    Here's a simple shopping list so you can easily buy the ingredients for this hearty soup. We'd recommend making a note of the ingredients or taking a screenshot before you head to the shops.

    For the stock
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1kg Willow Farms chicken drumsticks
    1 leek, roughly chopped
    2 carrots, roughly chopped
    2 celery sticks, roughly chopped
    1 onion, halved
    handful parsley
    4 thyme sprigs
    2 bay leaves
    ¼ tsp black peppercorns

    For the soup
    1 tbsp olive oil
    1 onion, diced
    1 celery stick, diced
    1 carrot, diced
    200g swede, diced
    2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
    4 thyme sprigs, leaves picked
    1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
    1 tbsp tomato purée
    1 x 400g tin plum tomatoes
    1 x 400g tin borlotti beans, drained
    50g spaghetti, broken into pieces
    ½ Savoy cabbage, leaves shredded
    1 x 30g pack basil, leaves picked and about half shredded
    freshly grated Parmesan, to serve

    Serves 4

    Each serving contains

    • Energy

      1455kj
      348kcal
      17%
    • Fat

      11g 16%
    • Saturates

      3g 14%
    • Sugars

      16g 18%
    • Salt

      0.4g 0%

    of the reference intake
    Carbohydrate 34g Protein 28.8g Fibre 11.1g