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Weekend Recipe: Minestrone Soup With a Dollop of Pesto

4 minute read

This recipe is from my cookbook Purely Delicious. When I cook minestrone, I vary the vegetables depending on what’s available in the fresh food markets that day. Soups of this sort are not only budget friendly, but also packed with fiber and antioxidants thanks to the featured vegetables.

This hearty dish is a one-pot meal that’s simple and nourishing, and can be enjoyed for a few days. I use water instead of vegetable stock as the flavors from the vegetables penetrate beautifully into the simmering broth and create a wonderfully clean flavor on their own.

Roasting some of the vegetables — particularly the sweet potato, eggplant or pumpkin — before adding them to the soup will add flavor and a creaminess that explodes in our mouth. For a quick boost of protein, I add a tin of organic, drained borlotti beans, and the optional walnut infused pesto adds texture. You can also fold through a little cooked brown rice or pearl barley for extra sustenance.

Enjoy piping hot in generous sized bowls with a grating of parmesan. You can store leftovers in the fridge for up to four days or freeze for up to three months.


  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 2 sticks celery, sliced
  • 800 g (28 1/4 oz) ripe roma tomatoes, chopped or 2 tins organic canned tomato
  • 1 bunch cavolo nero (Tuscan cabbage) or kale
  • 500 g (17 1/2 oz) sweet potato or pumpkin or eggplant cut into chunks
  • 3 cups filtered water
  • 1 tin organic cooked borlotti beans, drained
  • 2 generous handfuls baby spinach leaves
  • 1 bunch parsley, finely chopped
  • Grated Grana Padano or nutritional yeast to serve
  • Pesto to serve, see recipe below

  • Sauté onions, garlic, carrot and celery for 3 minutes in the olive oil until softened
  • Wash cavolo nero, remove the tough stems and roughly chop the leaves. Add them to the vegetables along with the sweet potato. You can also roast your sweet potato, but for this recipe I’m simplifying the cooking and creating a one-pot simple meal
  • Add tomato and water to just cover then bring to the boil
  • Reduce the heat, lightly cover the pot and simmer gently for around 30 minutes until vegetables are tender. Add more water if required
  • Add beans and warm through for another 5 minutes
  • Fold through parsley and baby spinach at the very end to add a boost of freshness and season with black pepper and a little sea salt
  • Serve in bowls topped with pesto if using and fresh grated Parmesan
  • NOTES + INSPIRATION: Top the minestrone with chopped avocado just before serving. You can also swap or add other vegetables depending on the availability and season. Some good additions or substitutes include green peas, zucchini and capsicum.

    I also enjoy serving it with a spoonful of pesto stirred through as it takes the flavor to another level and increases the soup’s texture.


  • 1 large bunch parsley, washed and roughly torn including the stem
  • 1 large bunch basil, washed and torn, including the stem
  • 1 clove garlic, smashed
  • 1/4 cup lightly roasted walnuts or raw pumpkin seeds
  • 30 g (1 oz) Parmesan or 2 tablespoons Nutritional Yeast if vegan
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 4 – 6 tablespoons cold pressed extra virgin olive oil

  • Combine all the ingredients into a food processor or a high performance blender like a Vitamix
  • Process until the herbs have been finely chopped and mixture forms a lovely green paste
  • Store in a glass jar in the fridge until needed then serve generously over minestrone or other vegetable dishes
  • Teresa Cutter, founder of The Healthy Chef, is an author, nutritionist and classically trained chef. You can find more of Cutter’s tips and recipes on her website, app, eBooks and Instagram.

    My main goal at The Healthy Chef is to get people cooking and eating healthier. Eat natural foods, focus on fresh fruits and vegetables and just keep it simple.” — Teresa Cutter

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