Recipes/ Seasonal Ingredients/ Seasonal Recipes/ Soup/ Vegetables/ Vegetarian

Winter Minestrone

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So, somehow I managed to catch a particularly ugly bout of the stomach bug that’s going around and was out of commission from Thursday morning until Sunday night. Party weekend! Major props to my amazing husband, who somehow seems immune from the stomach flu, for taking such great care of me all weekend – that included nightly foot and leg massages, back stroking and gatorade runs – not to mention building us a farmhouse bed in the garage at the same time! Seriously, where did I find him? I don’t even know.

Anyway, all that sickness called for some serious soup so I tore into our new CSA box {we just started getting a weekly box from an organic farm as a way to eat more veggies as a family in 2014 until our own garden gets up and running! That means lots more veggie-filled recipes for you guys…} to make this hearty, healing soup.

There is some serious yuckiness going around right now. And while I won’t doubt the benefits of chicken soup {homemade bone broth that my friend made and brought over helped me turn a corner the other night and I will never be without a batch in the freezer again}, this veggie and bean soup is delicious, hearty and will help you stay healthy this flu season!

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When I made this, I was too sick to go to the store. Instead, I reaped the benefits of our CSA box! Last week we got a big bunch of carrots, spinach, winter squash, fennel, arugula, broccoli and oranges. Most of that went into the soup! Not the oranges, of course.

The secret to really great “not boring” vegetable soup is creating tons of flavor with the base veggies. This time, I used onions, carrots and fennel sauteed in olive oil for almost 20 minutes until the onion started to caramelize. I know that seems like an unnecessarily long time but trust me – my meat and potatoes husband LOVED this soup!

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I used dried beans here, which I highly recommend. You can find dry beans anywhere and they are super cheap. I always keep dried cannellini, black and pinto beans in my pantry for times like this. This version of minestrone does not contain tomatoes or pasta, but you can add both if you like!

We really loved this soup. I think it amazed both of us at just how much flavor a simple vegetable and bean soup could have. I mean, usually I add a smidge of bacon….but not when I have the stomach flu. As much as I love fancy meals, I think the best kind of meals are just like this: simple, classic and comforting. Serve your soup with bread and soft, salted butter. Delish.

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Winter Minestrone

serves 4

Print this Recipe!

loosely adapted from Alice Waters The Art of Simple Food


1 cup dried cannellini beans

1 yellow onion, small dice

4 carrots, small dice

4 garlic cloves, minced

2 sprigs fresh rosemary, chopped

1 small butternut squash, small diced {or any other winter squash}

1 fennel bulb, small dice

2 cups loosely packed spinach leaves, rough chopped

2 bay leaves

3 tbsp olive oil

3 1/2 cups water

1 1/2 tsp salt


parmesan cheese for serving


The night before, soak the beans in cold water in a large pot. In the morning, drain the beans, add fresh water {about 3″ above beans} and simmer until very tender – about 1 hour. Drain cooked beans and reserve cooking liquid.

Heat the olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and fennel and saute for about 15-20 minutes until veggies are soft and onion has started to turn golden brown. Don’t skimp on this step because it adds so much flavor for the soup later!

Add the garlic, rosemary, bay leaves and salt and saute for another 3 minutes. Then, add the water and the squash. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender – about 15 minutes.

When the squash has become tender, add the beans and enough bean cooking liquid until you reach desired thickness. Keep in mind that this soup is supposed to be very thick so don’t add to much liquid here! Less is more. Add the spinach and cook just until the spinach has wilted.

Adjust seasonings if need be and serve soup topped with a tbsp {or more!} of freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Bread is always a good idea as well.


1 hour



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  • Sarah Toasty
    January 14, 2014 at 3:51 am

    that looks so comforting and delicious! love anything alice waters…

  • Averie @ Averie Cooks
    January 14, 2014 at 4:00 am

    I hope you’re feeling better! Being sick is bad, but being sick and pregnant, the total pits! I bet this soup was great though! Love all the CSA veggies. Pinned!

  • Liz S.
    January 14, 2014 at 4:08 am

    Oh no! I’m praying you get 100% well soon. Can’t beat a comforting, warming soup, especially when sick. Hope it heals.

  • Angela @ Happy Fit Mama
    January 14, 2014 at 4:10 am

    I think this soup couldn’t definitely cure all. And yes, bread is always a good idea with soup. 😉 I’m insanely jealous of your CSA box. Ours is not nearly as plentiful right now.

  • Madison
    January 14, 2014 at 4:16 am

    This soup makes me feel all warm and snuggly inside and that’s just from looking at it. Imagine if I tasted it! 🙂

  • Angela @ Eat Spin Run Repeat
    January 14, 2014 at 4:35 am

    Sorry to hear you were sick, Jenna – sounds like a nasty bug you caught. You have no idea how much I wish I had this soup to take for lunch today! I am going to try something like it this weekend. I think the thing that’s missing from my soups, which you’ve done here, is patience! I don’t think I’ve ever sauteed the base veggies for 15-20 mins (more like 4-5!) so I’m going to give it a go. Beautiful photos!

  • DessertForTwo
    January 14, 2014 at 4:57 am

    I’m so glad you’re on the mend! This soup sounds great!

  • Jenna
    January 14, 2014 at 5:20 am

    Glad you are feeling better. Nothings worse than being pregnant and sick! This soup looks comforting!

  • Caroline L.
    January 14, 2014 at 5:43 am

    Um, so this really puts my daily canned minestrone soup diet to shame… #collegeproblems

  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun
    January 14, 2014 at 5:59 am

    Yum this looks perfect for this time of year when there is no end to this crazy winter in sight! 🙂

  • Molly
    January 14, 2014 at 6:10 am

    Loving the fennel in place of celery. I hate hate hate celery but love fennel!

  • Erin | The Law Student's Wife
    January 14, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Glad you are feeling better! This soup looks like it could warm and comfort from the inside out, and I love that you used all of the CSA veggies!

  • Ksenija @ With An Open Mind
    January 14, 2014 at 7:16 am

    You gotta love a soup with seasonal ingredients. Minestrone is all around here in France, but I am not a fan of the canned variation – home made just tastes so much better. I will definitely buy some winter vegetables this weekend and cook up a big bunch of it.

    And by the way: how sweet is your husband! You’re a lucky gal!

  • Pamela
    January 14, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Totally trying this soup this week! Love hearty soups and seeing as I am recovering from the flu, this is perfect.

  • Jordan Lynn // Life Between Lattes
    January 14, 2014 at 7:49 am

    This look really great – I love the addition of fennel!

  • dishing up the dirt
    January 14, 2014 at 7:51 am

    Sorry you’ve been sick. This soup sounds like the perfect remedy. Also, when your farmhouse bed is complete will you post a photo? I love that style of bed and am trying to convince my husband to make us one!

    • jenna
      January 14, 2014 at 2:07 pm

      Absolutely! He’s been having a blast making it. I’ll share all the details as soon as it’s done!

  • Danielle
    January 14, 2014 at 8:18 am

    Get well soon, darling! I hope this soup is as healing as it seems. xo

  • Bryony @ Bryony Cooks
    January 14, 2014 at 8:30 am

    This soup sounds amazing! I love the flavor caramelizing the vegetables lends to soups. I’ll have to try this soon!

  • Chicago Jogger
    January 14, 2014 at 8:32 am

    So sorry to hear you were sick! This soup sounds delicious. I love the addition of cannelloni beans too – yum.

  • RJ
    January 14, 2014 at 8:42 am

    I will be making this this week! I just can’t do daily salads in the winter so soups are my go-to way to eat veggies! This one looks delicious! Glad you’re feeling better!

    • RJ
      January 21, 2014 at 6:25 pm

      I just made this for the 2nd time – absolutely LOVE it!!

  • Liz @ Tip Top Shape
    January 14, 2014 at 8:49 am

    This is my kind of soup!

  • Cassie
    January 14, 2014 at 10:24 am

    I love soup! I’ve been making a batch every week during these cold days.

  • Morgan
    January 14, 2014 at 11:53 am

    Props for handling a camera with that flew! My hands ached too much to hold up my book to read.

    Speaking of, I just finished the Elizabeth Smart story. I wish I could personally thank her for sharing her story. She’s an amazingly strong woman.

  • Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar
    January 14, 2014 at 2:41 pm

    I love minestrone and this sounds perfect! Great recipe!

  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs
    January 14, 2014 at 3:12 pm

    Everything tastes better with freshly grated parm on top! 🙂

    Looks delicious — I bet it was just perfect when you were under the weather!

  • Kim @ Roaming Raspberry
    January 14, 2014 at 3:37 pm

    That looks delicious. I’d say you’ve got some serious talent!

  • Coty and Mariah@quirksandtwists
    January 14, 2014 at 3:48 pm

    Looks comforting and delicious! Sorry about your illness!

  • Megan @ TheSkinny-Life
    January 14, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    That soup looks amazing! Hope you feel better.

  • Kristi @ My San Francisco Kitchen
    January 14, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    Oh noo. I was sick the past few days too! What the heck is this stuff going around? Blehh. I would love some of this delicious soup!

  • AshleyL
    January 14, 2014 at 4:27 pm

    I have been making a version of this for years using the alive waters recipe. I love it!

  • Alanna
    January 14, 2014 at 6:38 pm

    Sounds like comfort in a bowl! Looks like a great recipe to keep.

  • Joyce
    January 14, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    LOVE ! sounds flavorful. Feel better!

  • Deborah Singer
    January 15, 2014 at 12:44 am

    This looks amazing! My hubby is gonna hate this (he calls this soup water with floaty things in lol) but I am going to relish this! This is an extremely close second to tomato soup and I make this often. Your recipe looks so good I am adding it to my soup recipe collection!

  • Hannah H
    January 15, 2014 at 8:31 am

    Hi Jenna! How should we reserve the bean cooking liquid? In the fridge? Thanks!

    • jenna
      January 15, 2014 at 8:57 am

      I just cook the beans, pour the liquid in a measuring cup and then just add it to the soup like that. However, if you are planning on cooking the beans a day before you make the soup, I would just keep the liquid in a measuring cup in the fridge. I like to do it all at once though!

  • Elisa @ Home Workout Challenge
    January 15, 2014 at 11:18 am

    The soup looks very comforting! I was just browsing for recipe ideas for a warm winter detox and ran into this one. I will definitely give it a shot! 🙂

  • Gina
    January 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm

    Oooh, can you do a post on the CSA?! Which one are you using? Glad you are feeling better!

  • Kim
    January 15, 2014 at 8:07 pm


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  • kelly
    January 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    Sounds so tasty!! Im new to fennel though, do I dice the whole thing? Kinda like an onion…?

    • jenna
      January 20, 2014 at 4:40 pm

      Yep! Just chop off the green part so you have a large white bulb. Then just cut it like you would an onion. 🙂

  • Luv What You Do
    January 18, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    I just made a winter minestrone. I think I”ll be living on it all winter long! At this rate, we may have snow until June : )

  • Emily @ Life on Food
    January 19, 2014 at 8:22 am

    I cannot think of anything better when you are not feeling well. Maybe the foot rubs? I hope you post more about the bed. I want to see finished pics.

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  • Lauren
    February 22, 2018 at 12:02 pm

    Made this recipe last Sunday and had it for lunch all week. So good and it got better every day. Love all the rosemary in it. My toddlers loved it too. This will definitely go in my winter soup rotation. Thank you!