Good ‘n healthy Minestrone Soup

minestrone soup

This recipe was created by Dr. Joseph McPhee, a physician with Healthy Weight Management and Bariatric Surgery. Dr. McPhee writes: 

Since I’m not Italian, I researched this traditional soup made with seasonal fresh vegetables and herbs to make sure I wasn’t missing any essential ingredients. While I found many versions of this recipe, most used a base of onions, celery, carrots, and tomatoes. Then additional seasonal vegetables were added to this “farmers” soup, ranging from potatoes to asparagus, giving each recipe its unique taste and texture.

I added spinach for the green vegetable and the classic cannellini beans for the legume. You could also use chickpeas, roman beans or lentils. Then for additional protein, I added pancetta. If you are a vegetarian or prefer not to use pancetta, a second bean can be substituted for a meat source.

I also found recipes calling for vegetables only with some salt and pepper, while others used an abundance of herbs such as basil, oregano, parsley and thyme. Since I love fresh herbs, I used my favorites of rosemary, basil and parsley.

Finally, I had to decide what kind of pasta to add. There is no right or wrong choice; however, I suggest using smaller pasta in moderate amounts so it doesn’t overwhelm the vegetables and beans.

This very healthy soup is packed with vitamins, minerals, protein and fiber. A one-cup serving is a little over 200 calories with 12 grams of protein. It is very forgiving because of the wide variety of ingredients that can be used. Keep the basic ingredients but have fun choosing your own additional vegetables, legumes, herbs and pasta to make it uniquely your own.

Preparation time: 45 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes
Total time: 1 hour


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1 cup celery, chopped
  • 1 cup carrot, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon rosemary, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, minced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced
  • ½ cup Pancetta, chopped
  • 1-14.5 ounce can no-salt diced tomatoes
  • 1-15.5 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 cup wheat pasta elbows
  • 1 cup fresh spinach
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon salt, optional
  • ½ cup parmesan cheese, shredded


  1. In a large soup pot or saucepan, add the olive oil, onion, celery, carrot, and garlic. Sauté on medium high heat for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are soft.
  2. Add the rosemary, basil and parsley and sauté for another 5 minutes.
  3. Remove mixture and place into a food processor. Pulse 4 to 5 times to almost a purée. Set aside.
  4. In the same saucepan sauté the pancetta on medium high heat for 1 or 2 minutes until it just starts to brown.
  5. Add the vegetable mixture to the pancetta, along with the tomatoes, beans, chicken stock, bay leaf, pasta, spinach, and salt and black pepper, if desired.
  6. Cover and simmer over low heat until the pasta is al dente, about 10 minutes.
  7. Remove bay leaf, stir in the parmesan cheese and serve.

Makes 8, 1-cup servings.

Nutritional Information
Per one-cup serving: 218 calories; 8.1g total fat (3.4g saturated fat, 0.4g polyunsaturated fat, 3.7g monounsaturated fat); 462mg sodium; 12.4mg cholesterol; 26.2g carbohydrate; 6.0g fiber; 2.8g sugars; 12g protein; 278.5mg potassium.

author name

Joseph R. McPhee, MD

Joseph R. McPhee, MD, is a physician specializing in bariatric surgery with Healthy Weight Management & Bariatric Surgery.

Education: A graduate of New York University and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine, Dr. McPhee completed a fellowship in minimally invasive surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School and his residency at North Shore University Hospital.

Call: 717-544-2935

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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