Loretta Sebastiani

Loretta Sebastiani
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Vegetable soup with pesto sauce
( Minestrone con il pesto )

Traditional recipe

Minestrone with pesto is very tasty but it is also a recipe rather long to do. It's typical of summer when fresh basil is available and vegetables are at their best. Obviously, there are many variations for this traditional recipe of the Mediterranean diet. I will introduce you a classic version and then I'll also add some of my little variations on the theme :))

difficulty: easy

time: 3 hours 20 minutes

calories: 351 (kCal)

Ingredients / Serves 4

  • 100g (3 1/2 ounces) spinach
  • 100g (3 1/2 ounces) Swiss chard
  • 100g (3 1/2 ounces) escarole
  • Half a head cabbage
  • 2 potatoes
  • 2 courgettes (zucchini)
  • 3 tomatoes
  • 150g (5 1/3 ounces) shelled beans
  • 150g (5 1/3 ounces) shelled peas
  • 2 young fresh onions
  • 1 celery stalk
  • Some sprigs of flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 1/2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 2l (4 1/4 pints) water
  • Salt
  • For pesto sauce
  • A big bunch of basil (at least 50 leaves)
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
  • 10g (1/3 ounce) pine nuts
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt
easy recipe
preparation: 50 minutes
cooking: 2 hours 30 minutes
total: 3 hours 20 minutes
How many calories in a serving?
Calories: 351 (kcal) 18 % - 1470 (kJ)
Protein: 15.0 (g) 30 % GDA
Total fat: 19.9 (g) 29 % GDA
Total carbohydrate: 29.9 (g) 12 % GDA
Sugars: 10.4 (g) 12 % GDA

Download free PDF version (126 download).

Recipe for minestrone with pesto sauce

Preparation and cookin

  • - Clean and wash all vegetables.
    Cut spinach, Swiss chard, escarole and head cabbage into thin strips.
    Remove seeds from zucchini and cube them.
    Peel tomatoes, remove their seeds and cube their flesh.
    Chop onion, garlic and celery all together.
    Chop parsley finely.
    Peel potatoes and cube them.
  • - First cooking step: saute.
    Put olive oil in a big saucepan and let chopped onions, garlic and celery fry slightly over a very low heat.
  • - Second cooking step: bring to a boil.
    At this point add all other vegetables, beans and peas included except parsley. You can also use frozen peas and beans.
    Pour the water into the pan, season to taste with salt and bring to a boil.
  • - Third cooking step: simmer.
    Reduce heat and continue cooking, half-covered, stirring now and then with a wooden spoon, for about two hours and half or until all vegetables become very soft.
    Add other boiling water only if your vegetable soup becomes too thick.
    Some minutes before turning off the stove add chopped parsley too.
  • - Meanwhile ...
    ... you have to prepare pesto sauce.
    Clean and wash basil and pat dry with absorbent kitchen paper.
    Pound basil leaves in a mortar together with garlic cloves with a rotatory motion using a pestle. Add also pine nuts after few minutes.
    You have to continue pounding until a thick mixture forms.
    Put it in a bowl and pour in olive oil slowly until your mixture becomes creamy.
    Add Parmesan cheese and season to taste with salt.
    Stir with delicacy.

Just before serving

  • - When your vegetable soup is ready, add pesto sauce, stir accurately and season to taste with pepper, if you like.
  • - Serve hot or warm.
    If you want, you can toast some bread slices, put them on the bottom of every dish and pour minestrone over them.
  • - Buon appetito!



  • - You can avoid frying slightly onions, garlic and celery. Your liver will thank you :)) I think you know it is not a healthy cooking method. Believe me! If you put all the ingredients except olive oil in the pan, add water, simmer until your vegetables are tenders and add olive oil once turned off your stove, your minestrone will be very tasty and you can appreciate the flavor of olive oil completely.
  • - It's very difficult for me to find fresh beans and fresh peas at the same time in summer. Peas are typical of spring. So I generally use frozen peas and fresh beans (300 grams 10 1/2 ounces in their pod)
  • - You can also prepare pesto sauce with a blender or food processor; but your pesto will be less tasty! I am aware of this but I must also say that I seldom have time enough to make pesto with mortar. So I put into practice some small tricks to limit the damage. Read more on our page about pesto sauce whose link is below.
  • - If you loke faster cooking to better preserve flavor and nutritional properties of various ingredients, add less water and cook just until you want. Personally I am not fond of long cooking and prefer this option.
  • - I find more delicious this Italian minestrone adding pasta too: thin spaghetti cut into little pieces. About 120 grams. Keep your minestrone with more liquid to cook pasta inside!

Menu planning

  • - This dish is fantastic for your family menu. Excellent solution for the months when you can find fresh basil and vegetables easily, from May to October. Do not be fooled by the presence of basil at the market 12 months a year. Basil in winter does not have the same scent!
    In winter there are other stews and soups. Eating according to the seasons is good for your health, your wallet and the environment ;))

Useful links for this recipe

Healthy eating

  • - Every minestrone (vegetble soup) is a healthy dish that we can improve avoiding sauteing and controlling the amount of fat. If you use fresh vegetables and do not prolong cooking excessively (otherwise the risk is to lose too many vitamins) the benefits are multiplied!
  • - As you have read, nutrition facts of this minestrone ​​are fairly controlled. Besides if you do like me that is: avoid to saute vegetables and add only the olive oil of pesto sauce, your calories become 306 and fats are reduced to 14.4g.
  • - Fiber per serving: 10.4g
  • - Adding pasta, as I've just suggested above, transforms minestrone with pesto in a single-course meal, satisfactory from all points of view. Starting from nutrition facts at the top of this page, here are the new values​​:
    Energy: 457 kcal (1913 kJ)
    Protein: 18.3 grams
    Total Fat: 20.3 grams
    Total Carbohydrates: 53.6 g
    Sugars: 11.7 grams
    Fiber: 11.2 grams


What's the right wine for " Vegetable soup with pesto sauce "?

My husband Carlo and I always pair Vermentino (white wine from Liguria).