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 20 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?


  • 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. This is the recipe for which I’ve been waiting. I’ll be making this on Wednesday the 20th of July (social security payday). I have made really good minestrone soup but, I suspect this will be great! I would never have thought about the edition of pesto, thank you for the recipe!

    1. The pesto is totally a game changer, I add it to all kinds of soups! Fun way to add flavor. So glad you are going to have a chance to make it soon Marvin, enjoy!

  2. Made tonight because even though it’s still 90 degrees here in lower Alabama,  I am longing for autumn soup weather!  Delicious recipe.  So glad I found it and will definitely keep it for future soup meals this fall & winter.

    1. Isn’t it funny how your cooking starts to change before the weather sometimes?? Wishful thinking, I totally get it! I’m so glad you loved the minestrone Glinda, thank you for leaving a review!

  3. Hi there!! I’m wondering if it would be alright to substitute the sausage for ground pork, as that’s what I have in the freezer. I’m trying to avoid going to the store (thanks corona virus ☹️). Any suggestions are welcomed, thank you so much!! 

    1. Hi Sierra, that is the perfect substitute! When you cook up the ground pork, add some salt and pepper and Italian seasonings: basil, thyme, oregano, etc. Add fennel if you have it. Enjoy the minestrone!! And stay safe out there! (in there!) ;)

  4. I just made this recipe and I can honestly say it is the best thing I have ever made. Thanks for this oh sooo delicious recipe!!!! Just AMAZING!!!

  5. Wow and Wow.   This soup was AMAZING!!!   My husband is not a minestrone soup lover Until last night.  He ate 2 huge bowls of this soup.  The only change I made was I added broccoli instead of spinach.   I also added a little bit of Marsala wine.

    I don’t usually leave comments.  But with this soup I made an exception😉😉😉

    1. Ooh love the broccoli and marsala idea Terri! Great idea! So glad your husband loved the soup, I guess we’ve made a convert out of him ;) Thank you so much for taking the time to comment!

    1. Hi Leah, unfortunately I don’t provide nutrition info on my site, but you are welcome to plug the ingredients into an online calculator.

  6. The addition of sausage totally transforms this soup.

    I added a little butternut squash that needed using up and also half a red and half a yellow pepper that were sitting in the fridge. The soup was fabulous and I’ll be making this again and again!

    More slow cooker recipes like this pleeease!

  7. Minestrone Soup with Italian Sausage and Pesto – I made this recipe tonite and it is excellent – a keeper for sure. I used the stove top method. I added more garlic and another cup of stock – I got the “stew” texture but it is fantastic. Almost put my basil pesto back in the freezer because I didn’t think it needed it, but I decided to use it since the recipe called for it. I will certainly make this again, thanks for sharing the recipe and giving me another keeper for my recipe list!

    1. I’m so glad you liked it Lynn! And I’m glad you decided to add the pesto, it’s a game changer for sure! Thanks so much for the review :)

  8. Top of the mountain awesome! i’m almost too old to get this excited ,HA I feel the one thing I used made a big difference… the Tuttorosso tomato paste & chopped  tomatoes.They have a very smooth feel on the palette I think my Angel made choose them as i usually “just get the store brand” I do use Cheese rind & the Pesto was a new flavor for me in soup & last I used ground sweet Italian sausage.

    1. Top of the mountain! Ha I love that phrase :) And I disagree no one is EVER too old to get excited about food!! It’s just the best thing ever. I will definitely have to try the name brand tomato paste you mentioned, I bet it makes a difference! So glad you tried the cheese rind too. YUM! Thanks for stopping to leave a comment Liz!

      1. Try Tuttarosa tomato products! They are the BEST! I always use their crushed tomatoes in my marinara. So sweet and delicious… they make the difference between good and  SPECTACULAR!  I’ve been cooking for years, and always used Pantene kitchen ready.. no comparison….

  9. This was easy and very delicious. It’s great to make if you’re going to be home So it’s a perfect snowstorm soup! Thanks for the recipe ❤️

    1. So happy to hear that you liked it Nicole! I agree, this is perfect snowstorm soup! Curl up by the fire and get a big bowl. :)

  10. Dear Karen, Give yourself a break! You have three beautiful children, an essentially full-time job, and a life to live! Be gentle on yourself. We have just come (almost) through a pretty strange winter and you have probably had all the kids in the house most of the time. Plus we all feel more like hibernating in the winter, not just bears! I’m old enough to be your mom and I’m sure your mom has told you, but just as a reminder, go easy on yourself. Everything doesn’t have to be perfect, in fact, lots of things are just fine with “good enough”. You are doing an amazing job, and the minestrone looks delicious (never mind that it’s the same one I make, it’s still yummy.)

    1. Karen’s mom has indeed told her to be kinder to herself – and to get more sleep! I’m afraid she sets a bad example in that regard, however…
      I’ve really been into soup lately, and this one looks delicious – my sister and my daughter are both awesome cooks, thanks ladies!

      1. Yes it’s all YOUR fault mom!! Just kidding :) You really have been telling me this for years so you get the satisfaction of a big giant “told ya so.”

    2. You are so kind Mary! It’s true, I do feel like hibernating in the winter, and I live in California where winter hardly feels like winter! I’m going to try embracing more of this “good enough” you speak of. ;) Thank you so much for reaching out. It means so much to me. I know food blogs are supposed to be all about the recipes these days, but I still love sharing little pieces of my heart…and hearing from friends!

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