Minestrone Soup with Orzo and Kale is a hearty, healthy, and delicious Tuscan Bean Soup recipe often served during the cooler months in Tuscany.
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.
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.
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.”
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
- Canned diced tomatoes (fire-roasted, stewed, or plain)
- Green cabbage
- Baby kale leaves (a handful)
- Butternut squash (frozen or fresh)
- Stock (vegetable, chicken, or beef)
- Red pepper flakes
- Orzo pasta
- Canned pinto beans (or cranberry beans)
Minestrone Ingredient Notes
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.
The soup is broth-based. Use your choice of either vegetable, chicken, or even beef stock for the soup.
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.
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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Serve with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. A slice of beautiful Italian bread is also delicious!
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