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?

minestrone with sausage in a stock pot

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?

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

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

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.

How to make 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!

carrots, celery, and onions chopped

can of tomatoes and a pot of soup with 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

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! ;)

Other soups 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

Easy Potato Soup Recipe

Ham & Potato Soup

Loaded Baked Potato Soup from Charlotte Fashion Plate

Callo de Pollo Mexicano from Bake it with Love

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Slow Cooker Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage and Pesto

4.73 from 11 votes
Prep: 25 mins
Cook: 1 hr
Total: 7 hrs 25 mins
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?


  • 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


  •  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.


*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!


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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  1. 5 stars
    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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