Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale is a hearty, healthy, and delicious Tuscan Bean Soup recipe often served during the cooler months in Tuscany.

Top view of a bowl of Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

Packed with fresh vegetables, hearty beans, and pasta, this soup recipe is a perfect warm-up at the end of the day whether that was a cold, blustery day or a day spent on the ski slopes.

Side view of bowls of Minestrone Soup with Sliced Bread

Much like our always popular, and personal favorite, Ribollita soup recipe, this is an Italian comfort food classic that’s easy to make and utterly delicious.

Province of Sienna in Tuscany, Italy

History of Minestrone Soup

The earliest origins of minestrone soup pre-date the Roman Empire, an era when the local diet was primarily vegetarian and plant-based.

Plentiful ingredients included onions, lentils, cabbage, garlic, broad beans, mushrooms, carrots, asparagus, and turnips.

Dishes began to change in 2nd century B.C. after Rome conquered Italy, and improved road networks that brought a diversity of products and “flooded the capital and began to change their diet, and by association, the diet of Italy, most notably with the more frequent inclusion of meats, including as a stock for soups.”

Ingredients for Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

Minestrone Soup with Orzo Ingredients

Specific ingredient measurements are found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post. This is an ingredient summary of what you’ll need.

  • Smoked pancetta
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, stewed, or plain)
  • Green cabbage
  • Baby kale leaves (a handful)
  • Butternut squash (frozen or fresh)
  • Potatoes
  • Stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
  • Red pepper flakes
  • Orzo pasta
  • Canned pinto beans (or cranberry beans)

Minestrone Ingredient Notes

Pancetta:

Smoked pancetta is a delicious addition to this soup. If that isn’t easy to find, you can swap Italian sausage, Prosciutto, a thinly sliced Italian ham, or even bacon.

Minestrone Soup Beans:

The most popular Minestrone Soup beans in Italy are either white beans (cannellini beans) or Bortolotti beans (cranberry beans). While I love cranberry beans, they didn’t have them at the market. A close substitution would be canned pinto beans, which is what I’ve used here.

Soup Base:

The soup is broth-based. Use your choice of either vegetable, chicken, or even beef stock for the soup.

Minestrone Soup in a Dutch Oven

Kitchen Equipment Needed

You will need a large soup pot. I love an enameled Dutch Oven because it’s heavy and distributes heat well, but any large soup pot will work.

The recipe is fairly easy but you will need to chop onion, carrots, celery, cabbage, and potatoes. So a good quality chef’s knife is helpful.

How to Make Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

Heat a heavy bottom soup pot over medium heat and then add olive oil

Step 1: Saute vegetables

Heat a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. To the pot add onion, carrots, celery, and chopped pancetta; cook until soft and beginning to brown. Then stir in tomatoes (or 2 fresh, chopped tomatoes) and garlic; sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.

Minestrone Soup Cooking on the Stove

Step 2: Cook the Soup

Add the chopped cabbage, kale, potatoes, and butternut squash; sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock plus 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are soft; about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Step 3: Add Orzo and Beans

Once the vegetables are cooked and soft, add the drained canned beans and orzo pasta. Cook until the pasta is soft; about 7 minutes. Add additional water or broth if necessary to achieve consistency.

How to Serve Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

Ladle ample amounts of soup into bowls and drizzle with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, additional pinches of red pepper flakes, if desired, and fresh parsley. Thick slices of beautiful Italian bread are also delicious!

More Soup Recipes to Try

Closeup view of bowls of Minestrone Soup with fresh parsley
Side view of Minestrone Soup with Kale and Pasta

Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

Yield: 6 to 8 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes

Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale is a hearty, healthy, and delicious Tuscan Bean Soup recipe often served during the colder months in Tuscany.

Ingredients

  • 5 ounces smoked pancetta, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15 ounce) can diced stewed tomatoes, undrained
  • 1/2 green cabbage, chopped
  • 2 cups baby kale, chopped
  • 6 ounces butternut squash (frozen or fresh), cubed
  • 2 russet potatoes peeled and cubed
  • 4 cups stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
  • pinch of red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup dried orzo pasta
  • 1 (15-ounce) can pinto beans, drained and rinsed
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
  • fresh parsley to garnish

Instructions

  1. Heat a heavy soup pot over medium-high heat and add olive oil. To the pot add onion, carrots, celery, and chopped pancetta; cook until soft and beginning to brown. Then stir in tomatoes (or 2 fresh, chopped tomatoes) and garlic; sauté for 4 to 5 minutes.
  2. Then add the chopped cabbage, kale, potatoes, and butternut squash; sauté for 2 minutes. Pour in the stock plus 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the vegetables are soft; about 20 minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Once the vegetables are cooked and soft, add the drained canned beans and orzo pasta. Cook until the pasta is soft; about 7 minutes. Add additional water or broth if necessary to achieve consistency.
  4. Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. A slice of beautiful Italian bread is also delicious!

Notes

Storage:

This minestrone soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 327Total Fat: 15gSaturated Fat: 4gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 17mgSodium: 396mgCarbohydrates: 38gFiber: 4gSugar: 6gProtein: 11g

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2 thoughts on “Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale

  1. HOBOKENITE

    Recipe was delicious. I made a couple of changes to mine. I eat a plant based diet so I swapped out the Pancetta for vegan sausage (Field Roast Italian). I also replaced one of the potatoes with a couple of diced parsnips since I had them on hand and wanted to use them up.

    Delicious!

    1. I love your substitutions- it’s a great soup for parsnips! I’m going to remember that idea. Thanks for trying and letting me know ❤️❤️!

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