Winter minestrone

Warm up with this hearty plant-based soup.

Contributed by Linda Shiue, MD

Winter minestrone

This winter minestrone is adapted from a recipe by the Food Network’s “Barefoot Contessa” star, Ina Garten. It is strictly plant-based and enhanced with the addition of winter vegetables. Enjoy in good health!

Servings: 8 2-cup servings


2 tablespoons olive oil

  • 1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch diced) carrots
  • 2 cups (1/2-inch diced) celery
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch diced) peeled butternut squash
  • 1 cup (1/2-inch diced) peeled kohlrabi or chayote
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves (or substitute 1 teaspoon dried thyme)
  • 1 26-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 6 to 8 cups unsalted vegetable stock, preferably homemade
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or 1/2 tablespoon table salt)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 15-ounce can no-salt-added cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups cooked small whole grain pasta, such as ditalini, small macaroni, or small shells
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • 10 ounces fresh baby spinach
  • 2 tablespoons basil pesto


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat in a large, heavy pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, carrots, and celery. Cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Then add garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Next, add butternut squash, kohlrabi, and thyme. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for 8 to 10 minutes, until the vegetables begin to soften.
  2. Add the tomatoes, 6 cups of the stock, the bay leaf, 1 tablespoon Kosher salt (or 1/2 tablespoon table salt), 1 1/2 teaspoons pepper, and smoked paprika. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  3. Discard the bay leaf. Add the beans, cooked pasta, and wine. Bring to a boil until heated through. If the soup is too thick, add more stock or water.
  4. Gradually fold in spinach until just wilted but still very green, about 30 seconds. Stir in pesto and adjust salt to taste, then serve immediately.

Nutrition information (per serving)

  • Calories: 230
  • Total fat: 6 g
  • Saturated fat: 1 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg
  • Sodium: 400 mg
  • Total carbohydrate: 36 g
  • Dietary fiber: 7 g
  • Sugars: 10 g
  • Added sugars: 0 g
  • Protein: 8 g

Note: Nutrition information does not include added salt.