A large dutch oven filled with homemade minestrone soup.
Photography by Meghan Rodgers

Vegan Minestrone Soup, an Ancient Recipe Shows Us How to Reduce Food Waste

by Meghan Rodgers


January 26, 2021

Minestrone soup might be a modern-day favorite, but its rich history goes back hundreds of years. When Rome conquered the Italian peninsula by the 2nd century BC, the economic growth allowed a variety of new vegetables to flood the markets. For the first time, Italians could enjoy a diverse crop and a new mix of vegetables in their cooking — kicking off a centuries-long minestrone craze!

Like so many foods we eat today, minestrone started out as what was considered a peasant food. Italians would gather the leftover ingredients from previous meals and whip up this “poor man’s soup.” To this day, this is why there really isn’t one exact recipe declaring what ingredients belong in a minestrone recipe.

Today, dishes like minestrone are increasingly important as they remind us to use what we have without being wasteful. The National Resource Defense Council estimates that up to 40 percent of food in the United States goes uneaten. Households toss limp vegetables, people confuse “sell by” with “expired” food labels, restaurants serve massive portions that ultimately end up in the trash, and farmers are forced to trash produce that doesn’t look perfect.

All the while, 1 in 8 Americans struggle to put food on the table.

All that trashed food is just the final step in a long wasteful line of energy that goes into growing, processing and transporting that food. This chain also produces climate-hazardous greenhouse gases, plus water waste, fertilizer, wasteful packing materials and more.

Soups like Minestrone are satisfying, easy-to-make, rich in nutrients, and totally vegan! They’re a great way to use up any leftover veggies you have laying around because the more diverse the veggies, the tastier! And because they’re going in soup, you get use those slightly limp carrots you nearly forgot about or that local farmer’s crop of ugly zucchini.

Most Minestrone soups will include onions, garlic, celery, tomatoes, carrots and pasta, but you use whatever sounds good to you. I like adding beans and chickpeas so it’s more filling and higher in protein.


Pro tip: If you’re typically short on time, prep veggies the day before. The next day, you can just toss everything in the pot to simmer and serve in no time!

Eco-tip: Another easy way to use up leftover veggies at home is to make your own broth. Skip store-bought broth (and its packaging!) by making your own at home.


Vegan Minestrone Soup


1 tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 ribs of celery, diced

2 carrots, diced

1 medium zucchini, diced

1/4 pound green beans, cut in thirds

1 can kidney beans (15 oz), drained and rinsed well

1 can chickpeas (15 oz), drained and rinsed well

1 can diced tomatoes (28 oz)

1 tbsp Italian seasoning

4 -8 cups vegetable broth

2 cups water (optional)

1 1/2 cups small pasta (mini shells, elbow, rotini)

3 handfuls fresh baby spinach


Fresh cracked black pepper



  1. Add olive oil, onions, garlic, and celery to large pot to simmer for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the carrots, zucchini, green beans, kidney beans, chickpeas, tomatoes, seasoning, and broth.
  3. Let simmer for about 10 minutes before adding pasta. Let simmer for about 10-15 minutes, adding more broth or water as needed.
  4. About 5 minutes before

Soup is done when veggies and pasta are tender.


Meghan Rodgers is a media professional and writer covering travel, food and the environment. Find her writing on the food blog EverybodyCraves and her adventures on Instagram.