Foodist Approved: Immune-Boosting 8-Vegetable Minestrone

by | Oct 16, 2013
8-Vegetable Minestrone

8-Vegetable Minestrone

Cold weather is ahead and that means all the good things that come with it. Cozy fires, hot chocolate, comfy sweaters, and holiday parties.

Oh, and flu season.

But fret not. Darya and I are here to help you stay healthy all fall and winter long. A recent post of hers contains ten great tips on how to avoid getting sick. And my recipe for a hearty, healthy homemade soup will help you nail her #9: Eat well.

For years I’ve been working to perfect the recipe for my Immune-Boosting 8-Vegetable Minestrone. I love the result.

This isn’t your average minestrone with some beans and a few wimpy vegetables floating in some tasteless broth. My minestrone alone is a complete meal. It satisfies like a bowl of your favorite hearty pasta, and in addition to eight different fresh veggies this soup includes whole-wheat penne, cannellini beans, spicy chicken sausage (optional), and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Even better, it is easy to make and hard to mess up.

Ready to beat cold and flu season? Don an apron and dust off your pots and pans. It’s a lot of vegetables to chop, but enlist the help of a friend and you’ll both benefit from the big batch of soup this recipe makes. It’s so good you can eat it multiple nights in a row, or freeze the leftovers and enjoy a quick, healthy dinner at a later date.


Immune-Boosting 8-Vegetable Minestrone

Yield: 10 servings

  • 2 spicy sausages (optional), sliced thin (I love Applegate Organics Spicy Chicken Sausage)

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 leek, remove bottom, top, outer leaf, slice into half moons
  • 2 carrots, peel, chop into bite-size pieces
  • 3 celery sticks, chop into bite-size pieces
  • 2 zucchini, halve and slice
  • ½ cabbage, chiffonade (thin slices)
  • 1 14.5 oz can chopped tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can cannellini beans, drain and rinse

  • 3 Tbsp olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp ground pepper
  • grated Parmesan

Grains / Breads
  • 1 cup whole-wheat rigatoni or penne, cooked according to package

  • 1 32 oz box low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 32 oz box regular vegetable broth

Wash and chop all the vegetables according to ingredients list.

Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large soup pot (I use a Le Creuset 7 ¼ Qt. Dutch Oven) over medium heat. Sauté onion, leek, carrots, celery, and garlic with 1 tsp of salt for 10 minutes stirring frequently to prevent browning. The salt is important as it helps the vegetables sweat, releasing natural juices and flavor.

Add zucchini, cabbage, oregano and pepper and sauté an additional 10 minutes. If needed add a little more olive oil.

Meanwhile brown the sliced sausage in a separate pan over medium heat with a little olive oil for 5 minutes.

Once the veggies have cooked through but before they brown at all, add the broth, tomatoes, beans and cooked sausage. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

(I use one part regular broth to one part low-sodium broth to keep the soup from turning out too salty. The sausage adds quite a bit of flavor and salt. If you’re leaving out the sausage, taste and add more salt and pepper if needed.)

Cook the pasta in a separate pot according to package directions. Drain and set aside. You should add the pasta only to individual servings. If you add to the entire pot, the pasta will soak most of the broth and you’ll have extremely soggy pasta.

Place a small serving of pasta in a large soup bowl. Ladle soup on top. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and serve. Yum!

Elyse Kopecky is a social media consultant and whole foods chef based in Portland, OR. After 10 years working for NIKE and EA SPORTS she left her desk job for the chance to study culinary nutrition at the Natural Gourmet Institute in NYC. Follow her adventures in the kitchen and on the trail at and @freshabits.


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24 Responses to “Foodist Approved: Immune-Boosting 8-Vegetable Minestrone”

  1. John Athayde says:

    Would this work as well (nutritionally) without the pasta or with a say, quinoa-based pasta? I know the protein profile is different between wheat and quinoa, and there are probably other differences as well.

    • Darya Rose says:

      Absolutely 🙂 Quinoa has a more complete amino acid profile than wheat, but the beans and veggies are the real nutritional UMPH here.

      • Rhonda Gauthier says:

        Sounds yummy and easy to prepare. Great selection on vegetables!
        I made leek and potato tonight, good classic and easy to prepare also.
        Home made vegetable soups are great for dinner. That is usually enough
        for us. In France “a vegetable soup” must, (should) have five vegetables
        in it.(An old wives tale) Always exceptions of course, but just vegetables and a bouillon cube for flavor. No salt added, just pepper. I “purée”, (mix) my soups.(Can’t do that with Minestrone of course.) All types of soups are great!
        I enjoy your recipes Darya, can’t wait to get your book that arrived at my condo in Oregon about a week after I left for France. It is waiting for me in Otter Rock!! Looking forward to getting ahold of it!!
        Hope to see you also…

  2. Mark Torromeo says:

    What if i substitute fresh tomatoes and cook some dry beans like a real man? Go big or go home, right?

  3. Elena says:

    Do you know any of the nutritional content for those of us who are tracking things like calories and fiber?

  4. Paula says:

    I don’t like cabbage. Do you have any suggestions for vegetables I could use instead?

    • Hi Paula,
      This recipe is completely flexible. Feel free to leave out any vegetables you don’t like and swap in any of your favorites. You might be surprised though that cabbage is really good in soup. Just adds texture but no flavor. Kale could be good.

      Let me know how it turns out!

  5. Todd says:

    Making this this weekend. Already battling my first cold. Ate nothing but bar food last weekend and got sick :/
    Thanks for the recipe!

    • Hi Todd,
      Bar food + alcohol = guaranteed immune system destruction. I’m sure you at least had a fun weekend!

      I like to make this soup before I travel when I know I’m going to have a few days of unhealthy eating.


  6. AJ says:

    Love this recipe, Elyse! Have you ever tried another meat ingredient besides sausage?

    • Yes! I’ve made it before with seasoned ground beef. Just cook in a separate sauté pan then add to the soup. Or it’s great without meat and you still get good protein from the beans.

  7. Tami says:

    Made the soup for dinner. It was delicious! We make your granola recipe weekly as well. The recipes are a great addition to Summer Tomato! Thanks!

  8. Amanda says:

    I made this tonight and it was delicious! Just wanted to say thanks for a such an easy and affordable recipe.

  9. Tracy K. says:

    I made the soup tonight (without sausage) and love it! I must admit I’m not a cabbage fan, but I’m so glad I included it. It really does add to the overall texture. This recipe is a keeper!

  10. Lori says:

    When eating this as leftovers, does the pasta suck up all the broth like in some soups? Or no?

    • Hi Lori,
      Yes! I always cook the pasta separately and just add to individual bowls before ladling the soup on top. Then I store the leftover cooked pasta separately. One time I left the pasta in and was disappointed to discover the next day that the pasta had eaten the broth!

  11. I made this outstanding soup with vegan sausages and a quinoa and corn rotelle pasta. I could not stop “Mmmm”-ing throughout the meal.

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