Autumnal Minestrone

Minestrone, which when translated literally means ‘big soup‘, is a seasonal soup that can be made of whatever ingredients are at hand. The only fixed characteristics of minestrone are that it should contain pasta and plenty of delicious stock. As such, it is to be expected that a dish so undefinable would have myriad different variations and this, of course, is true. However, tomatoes are unlikely to be found high up on the list of ingredients that really make minestrone sing.

Minestrone epitomises autumnal eating; it is the ‘throw everything in’ mind-set that I find particularly enchanting. For that reason, I don’t want anyone to feel too constrained by this recipe; add whatever you see fit. However, there are certain ingredients that should remain; the wine and bacon give it an exceptional rich and flavourful quality, whilst the carrots and onion (in this case leeks) provide it with hearty body.

If you’d prefer a vegetarian version of this minestrone, one could happily replace the bacon with one teaspoon of smoked paprika. Minestrone really is the ideal soup for every season.

Autumnal Minestrone

Serves 4-6


• 2 leeks, finely chopped

• 3 carrots, finely diced

• 2 sticks of celery, finely diced

• 3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped

• Olive oil

• 400g beans, haricot, borlotti or pinto work well

• 2 rashers of smoked bacon or pancetta, finely sliced

• A dash of white or red wine

• 2 bay leaves

• 2 tbsp fresh chopped herb (rosemary, thyme, basil or sage)

• 1 tomato, squished

• A knob of butter

• 100g tiny pasta or broken up spaghetti

• 1 litre chicken or vegetable stock


1. Pour a good amount of olive oil into a large pan. Add the leeks, carrots, celery, garlic, bacon and your herb of choice and sweat for 15 minutes – don’t allow them to brown. Add the wine, tomato, stock and bay leaves and cook for a further 10 minutes.

2. Tip in the pasta, butter and beans. Cook until the pasta is done. Season and serve immediately with a little bread and parmesan.

Cost: None of the ingredients for this dish are particularly expensive; they are fairly seasonal after all. Indeed, even with wine and bacon included, this large pot of soup should set one back around £2.50, a mere trifle compared to Herr Heinz’s fare.

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155 comments on “Autumnal Minestrone

  1. ohmygoodygoodness
    October 7, 2012 at 5:08 pm

    This looks so good! I love homemade soup. It is never very hard to make and tastes so much better than anything you can pick up in the store! I am making up a batch of vegetable beef soup today!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 10:15 pm

      Thanks! That soup sounds lovely – I hope it was enjoyed!

  2. morristownmemos by Ronnie Hammer
    October 7, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    You are absolutely right! I always make a cauldron of soup and freeze a few portions. There’s nothing better than coming home after a grueling, tiring day and taking out a container of homemade soup.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 10:03 pm

      As are you! I can’t wait to get stocking up on home made soup.

  3. thesinglegourmetandtraveller
    October 7, 2012 at 5:22 pm

    Wonderful supper dish for these autumnal evenings.

  4. countrywoodsmoke
    October 7, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    That’s just what I need, it’s cold in Scotland in the evenings and this will warm me up a treat.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 10:01 pm

      Oh yes, it very much is… well, I’ve never been – but doesn’t snow in July in Scotland? :D.

  5. Norman McFarlane
    October 7, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    Great recipe. I did one a few years ago in my recipe column, and it went down a treat!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 14, 2012 at 9:59 pm

      Thanks. I bet it did – they are wonderful.

  6. lisascountrygourmethome
    October 7, 2012 at 6:35 pm

    This sounds amazing! Thank you for sharing, I will try this recipe out soon!!

  7. mandaray
    October 7, 2012 at 7:01 pm

    This looks delicious! Unfortunately when you say “minestrone soup” in America, the result is usually the weird tomatoey concoction that you speak of. While I dearly love tomatoes, sometimes I need (and want!) a break. So this is definitely something I will be trying out this winter. :) Thank you!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:57 pm

      That is unfortunate… Yes, tomatoes needn’t be in everything…

      • mandaray
        October 13, 2012 at 10:02 pm

        Agreed! Tomatoes can be delicious in soups, but not necessarily *every* soup…especially if you’re like my mom. Tomatoes usually give her really bad indigestion, plus she dislikes acidic foods. So a lot of soups are out of her reach because everyone’s so busy shoving tomatoes in them.

        • frugalfeeding
          October 13, 2012 at 10:04 pm

          Quite! Ahha! I do love tomatoes, but not all the time. Though, I’d never get tired of fresh tomatoes sprinkled with salt, pepper and olive oil.

          • mandaray
            October 14, 2012 at 5:47 pm

            Oh, that sounds lovely. I think the tastiest thing I ever made with tomatoes was when we had a few growing in our garden a couple of years ago. They were so sweet and delicious. I cut them up and put them in a pot with some white wine and salt…best spaghetti sauce I’ve ever eaten. I pretty much just wanted to drink it.

          • frugalfeeding
            October 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm

            Thanks! That sounds really rather delicious :)

  8. mylifeinfocusblog
    October 7, 2012 at 7:11 pm

    Making it right now! Thanks for a great idea!

  9. petit4chocolatier
    October 7, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    Excellent soup! It looks delicious! You are right, homemade soup is so much better! And you can always warm up the leftover and it tastes just as good!

  10. Michelle
    October 7, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    That top photo just screams “Autumn!” Pretty.

  11. Rufus' Food and Spirits Guide
    October 7, 2012 at 8:20 pm

    I can’t imagine you buying soup. You’re too good at whipping things up! This looks wonderful.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      I don’t really – though there is one brand I don’t mind.

  12. Conor Bofin
    October 7, 2012 at 8:22 pm

    Lovely soup. Lovely bowls too. Do I detect a Spanish influence?

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      Thanks! Not really, more Italian to be honest – the use of paprika in the vegetarian version is purely coincidental.

  13. narf77
    October 7, 2012 at 8:41 pm

    I find minestrone to be one of those soups that you can eat all year round. Much like a hot cup of tea on a hot day, it seems to act like curries do in hot countries…nourishing and simple and delicious at the same time. We never eat tinned or packet soup now that we know how delicious home made soups can be. Aside from the delicious factor, they are also incredibly thrifty and we often freeze our leftovers for future degustation with home made crusty bread. I love that minestrone contains beans and other pulses…throw in enough of them and you don’t even need the meat ;). We learned how delicious smoked paprika can be in soup last year when we were experimenting. We made an approximation of pea and ham soup minus the ham (I am vegan) and it was amazing. As a cook in a past life, I can’t get past the fact that soup is where restaurants make their money (and desserts). Using tinned soup is only going to cost us in the long term both in taste and nutritionally. Love the post and as its suddenly taken a turn for the worse here in Tasmania (typical spring weather here) Brunhilda is being fired up again for at least a week to cope with the cold…they are even forcasting snow on the mountains! I blame me doing the washing! This delicious recipe is most definatly on the cards for this week :)

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:53 pm

      Oh it is – it varies according to what’s in season. I hope you enjoy it – thanks for such a great comment :)

      • narf77
        October 14, 2012 at 1:31 am

        I only give great comments to great posts :) We made our version of this soup that night and it was heady nutritious and soul satisfying. I have mine with a liberal pile of steamed potatoes (It’s the German in me lol ;)) and Steve has his with fresh bread and butter (the English in him ;)). I will go on the record as saying that there is NOTHING better on a freezing cold night when you have been out working all day in the great outdoors than a steaming hot never ending bowl of home made soup. Apparently (this only applies to men) men who eat soup for 1 meal a week live 7 years longer than men who don’t. I figure it’s the happiness quotient kicking in 😉

        • frugalfeeding
          October 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm

          Well, thanks! Sounds wonderful! Glad you liked it. I definitely agree… though I don’t tend to work outside… Well, I eat plenty of soup. If I ate it three times a day every day would I, correspondingly, live an extra… 147 years?

          • narf77
            October 15, 2012 at 6:34 pm

            147 years? No Problem! I am sure that science will not let you down 😉

          • frugalfeeding
            October 24, 2012 at 8:16 pm

            I hope not…

  14. Doggy's Style
    October 7, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    I tried your chicken biryani, delicious!
    I’ll write a post about later on.

  15. putneyfarm
    October 7, 2012 at 9:38 pm

    This looks just great…fantastic…

  16. Little Sis
    October 7, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    Looks delicious. Nothing in a can beats homemade soup.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:51 pm

      Thanks! Exactly – I adore home made soup!

  17. kgrafix
    October 7, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    Thanks for visiting my post. Looking for Autumn recipes. This soup is great. Nice photos too.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 14, 2012 at 9:58 pm

      No problem! thanks – it’s perfect for autumn.

  18. mylifeinfocusblog
    October 7, 2012 at 11:10 pm

    Here’s a photo and a post of what I cooked today, including your fab soup!

    Thanks for the inspiration AND frugal feeding.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      Fantastic! Looks great :)

      • mylifeinfocusblog
        October 13, 2012 at 9:54 pm

        Thanks for sharing.

        • frugalfeeding
          October 13, 2012 at 9:55 pm

          No problem :)

  19. ceciliag
    October 7, 2012 at 11:58 pm

    I have said it before and I will say it again, i love the word – autumnal- just beautiful, especially when it precedes the word minestrone. One of my favourite soups. And I don’t make it often enough.. I shall this week. Thank you hon.. c

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:48 pm

      IT is a very, very pleasing word! No problem, Cecilia :D.

  20. Aimee@clevermuffin
    October 8, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Awesome myth dispelling! I often shy away from ministrones because I don’t like the overly tomato base, but this looks far more palatable. Nom nom.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:45 pm

      Hehe, thanks, Aimee :D. It was most palatable!

  21. theglobalgarnishgeek
    October 8, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Great photo. Makes me want to drop everything and make it now!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:44 pm

      Thanks! At least put everything down carefully.

  22. Bam's Kitchen
    October 8, 2012 at 1:51 am

    Looking at your autumnal picture, I can smell the fall crisp scent in the air and crunch of leaves at my feet even though I sit jet lagged at my computer here in steamy Hong Kong. Loving minestrone soup as it is so versatile. When I was in Italy this last week, they used the scraps from the homemade noodles that were irregular in shape to this soup. Nothing goes to waste in Italy. Take care, BAM

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:43 pm

      Oooooh Hong Kong, I want to go there :). A very Frugal country is Italy :)

  23. myhealthyohana
    October 8, 2012 at 4:12 am

    Looks so comforting! Thanks for clearing up the mystery of minestrone, I’ve only really known the tomato based variety.

  24. The Healthy Flavor
    October 8, 2012 at 7:17 am

    Love, love minestrone soup! Yours is beautiful and perfect for fall!!

  25. Chica Andaluza
    October 8, 2012 at 8:40 am

    My aunties in Italy would be very impressed with your gorgeous minestrone!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Well, I’m glad you think so – what a compliment 😀

  26. Patch
    October 8, 2012 at 10:10 am

    Ooooo that looks goooood. I have a recipe for a French soup called Pistou which is very similar to minestrone and always tastes SO much better. I have had a busy and tiring weekend and need the restorative power of soup today so I will be off to make some right now.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:39 pm

      Hah – thanks! I shall try pistou! I would say that this minestrone was extremely flavourful though.

  27. Alexia @ NamasteYoga
    October 8, 2012 at 1:38 pm

    oh wow you must have super brightened up your photos! looking fantastic this soup! there is nothing better than a good warming minestrone in a fall night. yum

  28. lmicheles
    October 8, 2012 at 2:46 pm

    Hmm, with smoked paprika, this looks as if it’s something I might like to have this very minute.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:38 pm

      Go ahead – you won’t be disappointed 😀

  29. Karista
    October 8, 2012 at 3:03 pm

    Love, love, love this Frugal. Some of my fave flavors, especially the smoked paprika. :)

  30. egg me on
    October 8, 2012 at 3:11 pm

    What an awesomely autumnal soup! That top photo is gorgeous. Great job!

  31. PlantBasedDietAdventures
    October 8, 2012 at 4:11 pm


  32. Bob Vivant
    October 8, 2012 at 4:33 pm

    I just added your soup to our menu for the week. What a delicious way to take the chill off a brisk fall day. Love the idea of adding smoked paprika! Cheers.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Fantastic – I seriously hope you enjoy it! Smoked paprika was a great bacon sub!

  33. kendraalyse
    October 8, 2012 at 6:21 pm

    This, my friend, is getting some serious spot lighting on my dinner table this fall. I’m all about the soups this season, and I can’t wait to make this for my first time. Thanks

  34. accordingtocarey
    October 8, 2012 at 7:27 pm

    I could not agree with you more regarding tomato-based minestrone! This looks so warm and comforting, will definitely add this to the menu this winter.

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:35 pm

      Well, I am glad – I hate disagreements :D.

  35. naughteebits
    October 8, 2012 at 10:25 pm

    Looks delish! Another one of your lovely recipes to add to my list!

  36. Villy
    October 8, 2012 at 11:31 pm

    Yes, that’s what I’m talking about! It’s not heavy autumn here yet (very light actually..), but I can’t wait to dig into those soups! It looks delicious!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      It’s quite heavy autumn here, definitely. It hasn’t stopped raining… I’m loving my soup 😀

  37. Keep Calm and Eat On
    October 9, 2012 at 12:28 am

    Lovely photos to accompany the soup that gets butchered most places but definitely not here. Well done!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:34 pm

      Thanks! Oh yes, I never butcher 😀 Except my meat…

  38. Shira
    October 9, 2012 at 1:49 am

    Look at this – both of us talking about Heinz in the same week – it MUST be fall! Time to bust out delicious home favorites…this soup has moved to the top of my ‘desire to make’ list :) It looks so amazing!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Haha! Too connected :D. Well, I do hope you attempt something similar!

  39. Debs @ The Spanish Wok
    October 9, 2012 at 8:51 am

    I love a good minestrone, comfort food.

    You are welcome to join in my monthly food blogger event THE SOUP KITCHEN, here for entry details and current theme. New theme each month. All bloggers are welcome, hope to see you participate soon.

  40. Kimby
    October 9, 2012 at 12:24 pm

    A bowl of this minestrone followed by a slice of your blackberry cheesecake would be a delicious way to celebrate autumn. Thanks for your tip on substituting smoked paprika for bacon, too!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:33 pm

      Oh absolutely – I’m drooling now :D. No problem – that works very well too.

  41. Somer
    October 9, 2012 at 8:24 pm

    I adore a good minestrone! Love this Nick, I’m seriously sad that I don’t have any of that tiny pasta in my pantry! Broken spaghetti just isn’t as endearing 😉

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      Thanks, Somer! It isn’t, but it still does the job!

  42. Willow
    October 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm

    I concur. There’s nothing like good soup in the fall, and most of the store-bought ones just don’t cut it. Your minestrone, on the other hand, sounds absolutely perfect… love the addition of bacon, too. In the cooler weather, one needs a little richness!

    • frugalfeeding
      October 13, 2012 at 9:32 pm

      You’re quite right, Willow! Thanks :). The bacon, for me, was a must.

  43. artisticmilestone
    October 10, 2012 at 12:36 am

    Finally, a minestrone thats not “red”. Thank you for stopping by my blog, I love new visitors :) Hmm…I know you said that adding the wine is a must but I’m going to try without it so I can share it with my 1 yr old, hope it’ll taste good too. Thanks for sharing the recipe :)

    • frugalfeeding
      October 14, 2012 at 9:55 pm

      No problem! I’m glad you liked my minestrone. Little one’s can have a dash of wine right? Just ask the French… (I jest, of course). No problem!

  44. calaurore9
    October 13, 2012 at 9:06 pm

    Yum, going to try this next week.

  45. Tamara Leigh: The Kitchen Novelist
    October 13, 2012 at 11:25 pm

    Wow, this looks yum! Thanks :)

  46. wavensongz
    October 14, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Thanks for stopping by and liking my blog. You are aware this soup is on my list for comfort food. And now with the temp. down to 38 tonight it’s on for dinner tomorrow night. Thanks 😉
    I know I will enjoy your recipe.

  47. albertocook
    October 14, 2012 at 7:15 pm

    I love it

  48. kpsass
    October 14, 2012 at 9:32 pm

    Your pictures are gorgeous! I can’t wait to try this!

  49. Susan
    October 15, 2012 at 9:28 am

    I have to confess I like adding overripe fall tomatoes to my minestrone, although it’s not a “must.” Another way to infuse a smoky flavor into your soup is to pan roast the onion or leek until brown before adding. (I was a vegetarian for many years, although you’d never know it now!)

    • frugalfeeding
      October 24, 2012 at 8:19 pm

      That’s ok though – it’s frugal :D. As long as they’re not tinned really. Then you get that awful red colour. That’s a good method, but the paprika really does work a treat 😀