I always thought Minestrone soup was kind of boring, but then I added Italian sausage. And a spoonful of pesto. And topped it with parmesan. This soup is PACKED and I love it! Classic minestrone flavors, but enhanced. And tons of veggies so you feel super healthy. Did I mention you can make it in the slow cooker? Originally published March 9, 2018.

minestrone with sausage in a stock pot.
Table of Contents
  1. You will love this recipe for Minestrone Soup 
  2. What is Minestrone Soup?
  3. Italian Sausage Minestrone Soup ingredients 
  4. How to make Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage
  5. Minestrone Recipe substitutions and additions
  6. How to serve Sausage Minestrone Soup
  7. How to store Minestrone Soup with Sausage
  8. Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage FAQs
  9. Sausage Minestrone Soup Recipe

Today I had a babysitter come over to watch little 16-month-old Valentine while I went to a Starbucks to work on this post. The mom guilt is killing me!! I know that’s ridiculous because I’m super lucky that I get to stay home with my kids, so I’m with them basically all the time. (ALL.THE.TIME.) I love having all that time! But sometimes I also hate having all that time. (insert crazy eyes here) Do you know what I mean?

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spoonful of minestrone soup with beans.

I’ve been feeling really unbalanced lately, and am trying to establish better routines so that I’m a happier, healthier mom/wife/human being. My normal routine is to stay up really late working on this blog. Like, reeeally late. Full time mom during the day, full time blogger at night! Who needs sleep! I’ve been on that schedule for almost 5 years now, and I thought it would be my body that gave out first. But I was wrong, it was my brain!! It went kablooie!

minestrone soup in a bowl with a spoon.

You may have noticed that things have been quieter around here since Christmas…I’ve been posting a lot less. I love working on my blog and feel that it’s actually really important for me, so I’m not going anywhere! I just need to do some life-shifting to figure out how I’m going to cram it all in, because neglecting sleep is not going to work out anymore.

minestrone soup with sausage in a pot with a wooden spoon.

So. A babysitter. And mom guilt. Hopefully over time I can learn to balance those feelings as well. For now, I’m just grateful to have a post out and NOT be exhausted! (A part of my old schedule was waking up in a half-panic the morning after posting to make sure that I hadn’t misspelled anything, forgotten an ingredient, or said something wildly inappropriate. It’s like drunk calls, except I have 30,000 people on my email list. Haha!)

minestrone soup with pesto and sausage in a bowl.

A few months ago I decided to try out a vegetarian chili recipe that I found in a cookbook. We all tried it and I kept thinking, something is missing. It just doesn’t taste five stars. Eric finally nailed it down… “I think it’s because you tried to make chili vegetarian, Karen. It’s not working.” Ha!

I’m kind of a meathead. I’ve never really been interested in making minestrone (and I never order it in restaurants) because every time I eat it, I’m just like, where’s the flavor? Soggy vegetables in watery broth. And not enough noodles. No thanks.

You will love this recipe for Minestrone Soup 

But THIS soup, guys. It’s amazing. There is so much going on that every bite is like a party in your mouth. I’m never going back! My Aunt Shirley gave me this recipe. She is the BEST cook and baker. I have lots more recipes from her that I’m excited to share, but for now you can check out her Famous Dinner Rolls, Creamy Mashed Potatoes, and 10 Minute Caramel Popcorn. She is really the best for sharing it all with me (and you!) Thanks Shirley!

How could I ever go back to regular minestrone soup after eating one with this much flavor?? It’s not one of those watery, sad-lunch soups: it’s a whole MEAL. Beans! Pasta! Veggies! Sausage! And then we’re adding delicious toppings–basil pesto and freshly grated parmesan cheese. 

What is Minestrone Soup?

Minestrone is an Italian vegetable soup. It has a tomato-y broth and includes pasta or rice. Beans are also a common ingredient. It’s different from a more traditional vegetable soup because the beans and pasta (or rice) make it heartier and more filling. Today I’m sharing my recipe for Minestrone…and my recipe adds meat. If meat isn’t your thing you can still make this soup, it just won’t have the amazing sausage flavor. That might be a bonus for you. Not for me, I am a carnivore, thank you very much. 

Italian Sausage Minestrone Soup ingredients 

Here’s a quick shopping list to help you gather your ingredients. See the recipe card below for the full ingredients and instructions!

  • Mild Italian sausage (16 oz)
  • Onion
  • Celery
  • Carrots
  • Tomato paste
  • Garlic
  • Dried oregano
  • Italian style diced tomatoes
  • Chicken broth (I use Better than Bouillon)
  • Cannellini beans 
  • Red kidney beans
  • Zucchini
  • Yellow squash
  • Ditalini pasta 
  • Baby spinach
  • Basil pesto
  • Parmesan cheese (to garnish) 

How to make Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage

Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup Instructions 

Here’s a quick overview of how to make this recipe. Full instructions can be found in the recipe card below!

  1. In a large soup pot, brown the Italian sausage over medium to medium-high heat. Drain the fat.
  2. Meanwhile, chop the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic. Add them to the soup pot along with the dried oregano. Saute for about 5 minutes.
  3. Pour everything into the slow cooker, then add the tomatoes and chicken broth.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  5. Stir in the beans, zucchini, yellow squash, and pasta. Cover and turn the heat to high. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
  6. Turn off the slow cooker. Stir in the spinach and cover another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish each bowl with a teaspoon of pesto and a little Parmesan cheese.
carrots, celery, and onions chopped on a wooden cutting board and then stirred in a pot.
can of diced tomatoes and a pot of soup with chopped spinach.

(I always feel so accomplished and healthy when I dump mounds of fresh spinach in my soup. Anyone else??)

The only way I think this minestrone soup could possibly get any better is if you added a parmesan rind to the soup while it’s cooking. Have you ever tried that? It would add yet another layer of flavor! I haven’t tried it yet but I want to next time. Parmesan rind is how you get such great flavor in this Kale, Chicken, and White Bean Soup (I also posted a slow cooker version).

minestrone soup in a bowl with pesto.

Minestrone Recipe substitutions and additions

Minestrone soup is definitely a “clean out the fridge” kind of soup. Here are some ideas for making it your own (but don’t let me stop you from even more experimenting–clearly, I am not a Minestrone soup purist!). 

  • Use whatever beans you want! I think this soup is great with about 2 cans. I like to use a can of red beans (kidney beans) and a can of white beans (cannellini beans) but you can use whatever you have on hand.
  • As I mention in this post, I am all about adding a parmesan rind if you have one. It’s a perfect nutty, flavorful addition to your minestrone.
  • Get crazy with the veggies. If you don’t have zucchini and yellow squash, you can absolutely switch to something else. Leftover roasted acorn or butternut squash would be amazing. You could use broccoli cut into small pieces, or try even asparagus cut into bite size pieces. If you enjoy the veggie on its own, it’ll go just fine in this soup.
  • I like using mild Italian sausage; if you like spice, buy hot!

How to serve Sausage Minestrone Soup

This soup is so hearty and packed with everything you need for dinner (protein! veggies!) that you can absolutely serve it alone. However, if you’re hungry for more, here are some of my favorite rolls and breads for dunking.

How to store Minestrone Soup with Sausage

Minestrone needs to be refrigerated in a covered container. It will last in the fridge for up to a week. If you’d like to freeze it, you totally can–just pour the cooled soup into labeled ziploc bags and freeze flat for easy defrosting. You could also put them in little individual tupperware containers to pull out whenever you need a hot, hearty meal fast. 

Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage FAQs

What’s the difference between minestrone and vegetable soup?

Minestrone soup usually contains pasta and beans in addition to veggies, so it’s much heartier. It has Italian roots and was traditionally an easy way for people to use whatever vegetables were available. 

Does minestrone traditionally contain meat?

No. Minestrone is traditionally vegetarian. But that didn’t stop me from adding sausage to this recipe, because sausage is delicious! I never really liked minestrone because it just tasted kind of plain. Sausage, plus pesto and parmesan, take this soup on a nonstop route to Flavortown. 

How do you upgrade minestrone soup?

Minestrone soup is a great base, don’t get me wrong. It has that classic flavorful combo of onions, celery, and carrots in a tomato-y broth seasoned with Italian herbs. But that’s just where we’re starting. Pasta and beans are traditional add-ins (we’re using TWO kinds of beans and cute little ditalini pasta), then upgrading our minestrone big time with Italian sausage, pesto, and parmesan. The flavors are seriously incredible.

Other soup recipes I love (and you will too!)

Slow Cooker Chicken, White Bean, and Kale Soup with Parmesan Shavings << so easy, so good

Slow Cooker Beef Barley Soup < this is one of the top recipes on my site! Recipe is from Eric’s grandmother.

Ham and Mac and Cheese Soup << 30 minutes, tops. Kids love this.

Easy Broccoli Cheese Soup << a classic! Get out that crusty bread for dipping!

Easy Potato Soup Recipe << one of top recipes year-round. Never enough potato soup!

Ham & Potato Soup << I love making this to use up my leftover ham. So comforting and easy.

Loaded Baked Potato Soup from Charlotte Fashion Plate

Callo de Pollo Mexicano from Bake it with Love

I hope you guys have a great weekend!! I know I’m going to, because SLEEP! Sleep is my friend! It’s a whole new world! ;)

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Sausage Minestrone Soup

4.85 from 19 votes
Prep: 25 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 7 hours 25 minutes
Servings: 8 -10
I always thought Minestrone soup was kind of boring, but then I added Italian sausage. And a spoonful of pesto. And topped it with parmesan. This soup is PACKED and I love it! Classic minestrone flavors, but enhanced. And tons of veggies so you feel like you’re on top of your life. Did I mention you can make it in the slow cooker?

Ingredients

  • 16 ounces mild Italian sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 cups celery, chopped
  • 1 & 1/2 cups carrots, chopped
  • 1 6 ounce can tomato paste
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 15 ounce can Italian style diced tomatoes*
  • 5 cups chicken broth
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 15 ounce can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup zucchini, chopped
  • 1 cup yellow squash, chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry ditalini pasta**
  • 2 cups baby spinach
  • basil pesto, to garnish
  • grated parmesan cheese, to garnish

Instructions

  •  In a large soup pot, brown the Italian sausage over medium to medium-high heat. Drain the fat.
  • Meanwhile, chop the onion, celery, carrots, and garlic.
  • Add the tomato paste, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, and dried oregano.
  • Saute for about 5 minutes.
  • Add the can of Italian tomatoes and chicken broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 30-45 minutes, until all the carrots are tender.
  • Add both cans of beans, the zucchini, yellow squash, and dry pasta. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer.
  • Simmer another 10 minutes, until the pasta is cooked.
  • At this point, you can add another cup or two of chicken broth, if you feel like it’s not “soupy” enough.
  • Turn off the heat and stir in the baby spinach. I like to roughly chop mine so it’s easier to eat, but you don’t have to!
  • Wait about 5 minutes for the spinach to wilt, and then it’s ready to serve. Season with salt and pepper. (I actually didn’t add any! Sign of a killer soup, right?)
  • Garnish each bowl with a teaspoon of pesto and a few grates of Parmesan cheese.

Slow cooker Instructions:

  • Follow the instructions through step 4. Pour everything into the slow cooker, then add the tomatoes and chicken broth.
  • Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours, or on high for 3-4 hours.
  • Stir in the beans, zucchini, yellow squash, and pasta. Cover and turn the heat to high. Cook for about 10-15 minutes, until the pasta is al dente.
  • Turn off the slow cooker. Stir in the spinach and cover another 2 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  • Garnish each bowl with a teaspoon of pesto and a few grates of Parmesan cheese.

Notes

*If you can’t find Italian diced tomatoes, regular tomatoes will work fine!
**sometimes called macaroni salad pasta. Any type of short pasta will work fine!
This is another gem of a recipe from my Aunt Shirley. Woman knows her way around the kitchen!

Nutrition

Calories: 380kcal | Carbohydrates: 37g | Protein: 18g | Fat: 19g | Saturated Fat: 7g | Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g | Monounsaturated Fat: 8g | Cholesterol: 43mg | Sodium: 1487mg | Potassium: 1019mg | Fiber: 9g | Sugar: 8g | Vitamin A: 5257IU | Vitamin C: 32mg | Calcium: 137mg | Iron: 5mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian
Calories: 380
Keyword: italian sausage, minestrone, Pesto, slow cooker
Did you make this? I’d love to see it!Mention @thefoodcharlatan or tag #thefoodcharlatan!

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Excellent!
    I only used half the tomato paste, hot Italian sausages, and threw in a couple of parm cheese rinds.
    Cook on the stove instead of using crockpot and served with a Caesar Salad and soft squishy rolls.
    Mine came out looking EXACTLY as you pictured. Even my husband (not a soup lover) had 2 bowls.
    Thank you SO much for recipe!

  2. 4 stars
    This soup was delicious ! Easy to make and didn’t need any salt! The only recommendation I would make is to cook pasta on the side and add after as it sucked up all the broth. I will make again! 

  3. 5 stars
    This was so good! I made minor changes based on what I had on hand. I had to use frozen squash and spinach. It was getting late, and the frozen veggies cooled the soup, so I cooked the pasta separately. I also added green beans. We topped it with Filipo Berrio pesto. I sprinkled mine with red pepper flakes, and lots of Parmesan. My hubby really liked it, too. Thanks for a great recipe!

  4. 5 stars
    Tried this tonight and it’s superb!! I feel like I could be served this in a nice cafe in Italy! I made fresh bread with it and it was delicious!!! I didn’t add salt and pepper either – no need!!

  5. Okay Karen, this is your masterpiece!  You have become my “go to” recipe place.  Surely do love your recipes and your site.  Thanks so much.  

    1. I’m so happy to hear this Gay! Thank you so much! I’m glad you loved the soup, thanks for taking the time to review :)

    2. 5 stars
      Fantastic soup! I made it tonight with what I had on hand and it was great, and a hit with the family! I bumped the tomatoes to a 28 oz can and some extra chicken broth so we can have plenty for the following nights dinner! So good! Thanks again!

  6. This looks yummy! Lol, I think your Minestrone + meat is pretty much the same as the soup I make (and love!) that is Pasta Fagioli + extra veggies. The pesto might be the extra punch that takes the cake, though. I’m excited to try it out!

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