Brr, it’s COLD lately! I’m in Texas, and this sixteen degree weather is not something I signed up for when I moved here. But I’m not complaining, since I’ve got this warm, hearty, delicious Winter Minestrone Soup with Root Vegetables and Quinoa to keep me warm!
Minestrone is one of my favorites, and this version of winter minestrone soup with lots of seasonal vegetables, such as potatoes, cabbage, kale, and parsnips doesn’t disappoint.
Winter Minestrone Soup is the perfect candidate for Bowl of Delicious’s January theme of recipes that fit the Mediterranean diet.
Aside from its Italian roots, this soup is packed with plant-based goodness- tons of veggies, white beans, and quinoa- staples of the Mediterranean Diet. It’s made extra delicious topped with a good portion of extra-virgin olive oil and some parmesan cheese for that delicious, salty, umami punch.
Traditional Minestrone soup uses small pasta, such as ditalini. I chose to use quinoa instead for a few reasons. First, it’s a whole grain (well, techinically a seed), so its nutritional value is better than pasta.
Second, it holds up very well when it’s cooked, meaning you can freeze this or make it in advance and it won’t turn mushy like pasta would.
Third, I thought the nutty, slightly crunchy texture paired so well with the root vegetables in this version of Minestrone.
I used tri-color quinoa, mostly because I think it’s pretty. I also find it has a bit more of a chew than white quinoa. You can use whatever you want, or even substitute it with another whole grain such as farro or barley. Just be sure to check on the cooking times for whichever grain you choose (see recipe notes).
This recipe couldn’t be easier to make. I made mine in a dutch oven on the stovetop, but I’ve also provided Instant Pot and slow cooker instructions in the recipe below.
To save time, you can prep ahead by chopping the vegetables beforehand.
Here’s a handy trick with prepping potatoes ahead of time- to keep them from going brown (like apples do), keep them submerged in water in your fridge. When you are ready to use them, just drain and add to your recipe!
Potatoes are one of my favorite vegetables to cook with. They are so versatile and convenient, especially because they last for a long time in the pantry.
They are a staple in every cuisine around the world, and I love how they absorb the flavors of whatever they are cooked with. It’s like working with a blank canvas.
I used baby red potatoes for this soup- their waxy texture means they hold their shape a bit better than their starchy peers (like russets). The skin of red potatoes, especially the baby ones, is super delicate, meaning there is no need to peel them.
There are a few things that make this soup extra special, besides the delicious seasonal ingredients. First, I used very little oil to cook with – only 1 tablespoon. After the soup was done cooking I added more, in addition to topping when serving, since extra-virgin olive oil is most pure in taste when it isn’t heated up.
I also put a parmesan cheese rind in the soup while it cooked, which helped flavor the broth. Most grocery stores sell them already separated from a parmesan wedge- I got a three-pack for only 90 cents!
I also used chicken broth as the base for the soup, which adds tons of flavor. To make this vegetarian, feel free to use vegetable broth. And to make it vegan/dairy-free, simply omit the parmesan cheese.
Finally, canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes are much more flavorful than fresh, especially since they are out of season right now.
Here’s the printable recipe for Winter Minestrone Soup with Root Vegetables and Quinoa! Enjoy, and stay warm :-)
Winter Minestrone Soup with Root Vegetables and Quinoa (Instant Pot + Slow Cooker Optional)
- Large pot
- 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 onion diced
- 2 stalks celery including the leaves, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 2 carrots halved and sliced
- 2 parsnips halved or quartered and sliced
- 2 cups shredded cabbage about 1/2 small head
- 2 cups baby red potatoes halved or quartered, depending on size
- 8 cups chicken stock/broth or vegetable broth
- 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary chopped
- 1 parmesan cheese rind optional
- 1 bay leaf
- 3/4 cup uncooked quinoa rinsed
- 2 cups kale roughly chopped, packed
- 15 oz. canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes
- 15 oz. canned cannellini beans rinsed and drained
- kosher salt to taste
- black pepper to taste
- parmesan cheese for serving (optional)
- In a large pot, sauté the onion and celery in 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil with a pinch of salt over medium-high heat until softened and starting to brown (about 3 minutes).
- Add the garlic, carrots, parsnips, cabbage, and potatoes. Sauté for another minute, until the veggies have been coated in the oil.
- Add the chicken broth (8 cups), rosemary (1 tablespoon), cheese rind (if using), and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes.
- Add the quinoa (3/4 cup), stir, cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes.
- Add the kale (2 cups), fire roasted diced tomatoes (with their juices), and drained/rinsed cannellini beans. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, for another 5 minutes, or until beans are heated through and kale is fully wilted.
- Remove the cheese rind and bay leaf.
- Remove from heat and stir in remaining 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
- Serve topped with parmesan cheese and fresh cracked black pepper, if desired.
- Make it vegetarian/vegan: be sure to use vegetable broth instead of chicken. To make it vegan, also omit the cheese rind.
- Make it paleo/whole30: omit the cheese rind, beans, and quinoa. Reduce the broth to 6 cups. If you like, add cooked shredded chicken for extra protein.
- Quinoa substitution: You can substitute the quinoa with another whole grain if you like. A small pasta shape, farro, barley, or rice would be delicious. Just be sure to adjust when you add it according to the cooking time for the grain.
- Kale substitution: You can also substitute the kale for another quick-cooking leafy green, such as spinach.
- Slow Cooker Instructions: To make this in your slow cooker, add all ingredients except for kale, tomatoes, and beans to a large slow cooker. Cook on low for 6 hours or high for 3 hours. 5 minutes before serving, stir in the kale, tomatoes, and beans. Remove the cheese rind, add the remaining olive oil and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve.
- Pressure Cooker Instructions: To make this in your pressure cooker/instant pot, use the sauté setting to cook the onions and celery in 1 tablespoon olive oil for 3 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients except for the kale, tomatoes, and beans. Turn pressure to high on manual for 10 minutes. Wait for 10 minutes for the pressure to release naturally, then quick release until the float valve sinks in. Add the tomatoes, beans, and kale, and allow to sit for 5 minutes. Remove cheese rind, add remaining olive oil, and adjust seasoning as necessary. Serve.
- I made this recipe in my 6 qt. Instant pot. It should work the same in an 8 qt., but you may need to cut the ingredients in half for a 3 qt. mini.