Hearty Minestrone

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I came across this recipe last year but had forgotten about it until I heard an interview on NPR a couple weeks back.  What lured me into to this recipe was the V8 in the ingredients. We are big fans of that vegetable juice concoction, so why not give it a go?

The recipe calls for dried cannellini beans, but you can use great northern or navy beans. The soup base is a mixture of chicken broth, water, and that V8.  I used chicken broth for the amount of water and water for the amount of chicken broth.  I felt this would give the base more flavor and it does. Speaking of flavor, the broth mixture is further enhanced by the addition of a piece of parmesan rind.  No, it doesn't melt.  It just gives the soup a good, deep flavor.  

Basil is added for a fresh flavor and red pepper flakes join the party for a good kick.  Serve with parmesan cheese, a drizzle of good olive oil, and a piece of that Classic American Garlic Bread for dunking. Chock-full of veggies, beans, and a bit of pasta (because that's the way I like it), this is one hearty bowl of minestrone indeed.
Printable Recipe

Hearty Minestrone
serves 6-8

1 1/2 Tablespoons kosher salt
2 quarts water
1/2 pound dried cannellini (about 1 cup), rinsed and picked over
1 Tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 ounces pancetta, cut into a 1/4-inch dice
2 medium celery ribs, cut into a 1/2 inch dice
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into a 1/2-inch dice
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 medium zucchini, trimmed and cut into quarter-rounds
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 small head green or savoy cabbage, halved, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch pieces, (about 2 cups)
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
8 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
1 piece Parmesan cheese rind, about 5 by 2 inches (or a 2-inch chunk of cheese)
1 bay leaf
2 cups V8 juice
1/2 cup dried conchilgliette (small pasta shells), cooked according to package directions
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Freshly grated Parmesan
Crushed red pepper flakes to taste
Extra virgin olive oil

In a large Dutch oven, combine the 1 1/2 tablespoons kosher salt, water and beans.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Remove the pot from the heat, cover and let stand for 1 hour.  Drain and rinse well.

In a large dutch oven, heat the oil and pancetta over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until pancetta is lightly browned and fat has rendered, about 3-5 minutes.  Add the celery, carrot, onions, and zucchini.  Sauté until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 5-9 minutes.  Stir in the garlic, cabbage, and red pepper flakes (if using); continue to cook until cabbage starts to wilt, 1-2 minutes longer.  Transfer vegetables to a rimmed baking sheet and set aside.

Add the brined beans, chicken broth, water, Parmesan rind, and bay leaf to the now empty Dutch oven and bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce the heat to a vigorous simmer, stirring occasionally, until beans are fully tender and liquid begins to thicken, 45-60 minutes.

Add the reserved vegetables and V8 juice to the beans and broth.  Cook until the vegetables are soft, about 15 minutes.  Discard the bay leaf and Parmesan rind.  Stir in the cooked pasta and basil, then season with salt and pepper.  Serve with grated Parmesan and a drizzle of olive oil.  Enjoy!

Source: Adapted from Cook's Illustrated, January 2010


  1. I am a first time commenter! I love your blog and have made several of your recipes! I had to comment today. The minestone soup sounds awesome! When I read the V-8 ingredient, I knew it'd be a winner. Years ago when my daughter was young, a woman watched her for me in her own home. She was a wonderful cook and gave me a recipe for chili using V-8 as the base. I have made that chili for years and it is, by far, my favorite chili recipe. I'll definately have to try this soup! - Karen

  2. Meeny Moe-
    Thanks for the kind comment! So pleased you have enjoyed some of the recipes. Feel free to share that chili recipe:)

  3. This looks great-Perfect for the 2 degree weather we are having! ;)

  4. Heather ArnoldJanuary 24, 2012

    I heard about your blog through my dear friend Amy Hansen who wrote an article about it for the paper. She knew I would enjoy checking out your site and told me all about the mac and cheese she had. I have been subscribing and enjoy your great recipes. I did make the ministrone and a few other great treats and they are all wonderful! Thanks!

    1. Heather-
      Thank you so much for the kind comment! I am pleased Amy shared my blog with you and that you are enjoying the recipes:)

  5. Nicole-
    This was absolutely delicious and everyone in our house loved it so much that I couldn't help but comment! Thank you for sharing all of these recipes!!

    1. Carrie-
      Thanks for letting me know. I am so pleased you and your family enjoyed it!

  6. Nicole, this soup is delicious! I have tried several minestrone recipes and this is by far my favorite. I've made it using the dried beans, but would also like to be able to use canned beans to shave the prep time. I figure I should use 2, 15 oz cans of drained & rinsed beans in place of the 1/2 lb dried, but I wasn't sure how much to decrease the broth, water & V8 juice in the recipe (I love the ratio - good call switching the water & broth). If you have any advice, I'd appreciate it!

    Thanks for all the great recipes - I've enjoyed everything I've made from your site.


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