Minestrina Soup is a hearty vegetable soup, perfect for Fall or Winter. Healthy, delicious and chock full of a variety of vegetables.
I’ve made Minestrone Soup over the years, and it has become one of my favorite winter soups because of the combined heartiness of all the vegetables, beans and pasta in this soup. This week, I came across a Minestrina Soup recipe from La Varenne, a cooking school in California run by Anne Willan. I had never heard of Minestrina Soup before and assumed at first glance that it was a Minestrone Soup recipe. The list of ingredients for the Minestrina Soup looked almost identical to a Minestrone Soup recipe, with the exception of pasta and beans, which were both missing.
According to The Food Lovers Companion, Minestra means soup in Italian, and typically describes a soup of medium thickness. Minestrina means “little soup” and has a thin broth, while Minestrone means “big soup” and is a thick vegetable soup that often contains pasta and sometimes peas or beans. Although this soup recipe uses only water, no broth, it is deceptively flavorful as a result of caramelizing the vegetables first. This is a far cry from the vegetable soup I recall from my childhood where my babysitter would simply boil frozen vegetables in water and call it soup.
With the weather turning cooler, I’ve been making more soups lately, and this week I decided to serve this Minestrina Soup with an Accent as a vegetable at dinner the other night. Soups are a different way of serving vegetables to my kids, a way of mixing things up during the week; plus in soups like this, I know my kids are eating a variety of vegetables (carrots, cauliflower, zucchini and more) and at least 2 servings (I know…sneaky right?).
The little Accent in this recipe is a piece of toast topped with some Basil Pesto, a little something special that brings this simple rustic soup to a whole new level. The interesting thing about serving vegetables in soup form is that my kids would normally reject a mixed dish of vegetables like the ones in this recipe, but in this Minestrina, they ate every bite. Hmm, I’m liking the idea of serving vegetable soup at dinner time more and more…a wider variety of vegetables and more servings? What’s not to like.
This recipe is adapted from Anne Willan. The English-born Anne Willan studied and taught cooking in London and Paris before moving to the U.S., where she became an associate editor of Gourmet magazine and food editor of the Washington Star. As a recognized authority on French cooking, she founded La Varenne in 1975, a culinary school in Burgundy, with the encouragement and support of Julia Child. La Varenne eventually moved to Southern California, but along the way, taught many of the who’s who of the culinary world the LaVarenne Way, including Amanda Hesser, Molly Stevens, and Stephen Raichlen.
Anne Willan is the author of 13 cookbooks, including The Country Cooking of France, which received two 2008 James Beard Foundation Awards for best international cookbook and best cookbook photography. She has also received numerous awards, including being honored in 1995 as Grande Dame of Les Dames d’Escoffier International, and receiving the International Association of Culinary Professionals’ prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award in 1999.
According to Molly Stevens, “Anne is one of the hardest working individuals I know, and her drive for perfection has long been an inspiration.” When asked by Virginia Willis what she was most proud of, Anne Willan answered, “Creating LaVarenne where so many people have been through and learned then going out and doing their own things, taking things further and creating their own careers.”
Minestrina Soup with an Accent
For the Minestrina
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 large carrots peeled and sliced diagonally
- 2 medium onions sliced
- 2 stalks celery sliced
- 6 cups water
- 1 bay leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 small cauliflower divided into florets
- 2 small potatoes cut into 3/8" dice
- 1 zucchini cut into half-moons
- 2 tomatoes peeled, seeded and chopped (approximately 1 cup)
- 1 clove garlic crushed
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
For the Pesto Croutes:
- 6-8 slices of crusty bread I used the gluten-free bread ends
- 1/3 cup Basil Pesto
- 3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese optional
To Make Minestrina
In a large soup pot, heat the oil. Add the carrots, onion and celery and saute until they just start to soften and turn light brown, about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the water, bay leaf, and salt and pepper to taste. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes.
Add cauliflower and potatoes, and simmer 10 minutes more. Add zucchini, tomatoes, garlic and parsley and simmer 7-10 minutes more until zucchini are just tender.
To Make Pesto Croutes
Toast bread. Spread pesto on top.
Ladle soup into bowls. Top with Pesto Croutes and Parmesan cheese, if using.
Adapted from Anne Willan, La Varenne.The original recipe calls for green beans; since I didn't have any, I substituted zucchini. Of course, as in most vegetable soup recipes, feel free to substitute whatever vegetables you have on hand, just adjust the cooking time accordingly. I decided to cook the potatoes along with the cauliflower instead of adding them later on as potatoes sometimes take longer to cook. For a dairy-free, vegan version, serve without the Parmesan cheese.
Note: Nutrition Facts do not include Pesto Croutes
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A very interesting tidbut about the name of the soup. It sounds hearty and perfect for the inevitable winter weather!!
I like minestrina! Although I like the beans, I could do without the pasta. Looks like a winner for a cold winter’s night!
Sue/the view from great island says
This soup looks so fresh and colorful. Your story of the babysitter’s soup is frightening—no wonder you became a food blogger!
It was actually quite funny because our sitter would make the same soup every day and we kept telling our mom how horrible it tasted. She thought we were being ridiculous until we made her taste it. Then she realized just how bad it was!
juniakk @ mis pensamientos says
i LOVE how your put cauliflower in your minestrone soup! pesto croutes sound so much fun – i want to try making them when i make soup next or even for a salad :D. have a wonderful weekend jeanette.
I did like the cauliflower in this soup – it’s so good for you and a nice hearty vegetable. The Pesto Croutes definitely add something special to this soup – they would be good with any soup quite honestly or with a salad as you suggested.
Love this soup recipe!
Jersey Girl Cooks says
I love how this soup is so hardy! Great for winter.
Mireya @myhealthyeatinghabits says
These types of soups are my favorite food. This one sounds delicious with the pesto. I’ll trying it this week-end!
Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. says
yum! Looks so healthy!
What a lovely looking soup and so healthy! Perfect for this time of the year and a perfect pick!
Thanks Kathy – I’ve been making a lot of soup lately with the weather getting cooler. This soup has a light broth, but is so satisfying with all the veggies.
I love the French version – this is so delicate – and the added pesto is perfect. Will be doing this – just the idea of caramelizing the vegetables first really entices.
This is a light soup and the pesto is a really nice addition. I was really surprised by how flavorful this soup was since it uses just water – caramelizing the vegetables in the beginning must give it that depth of flavor.
I’ve never heard of minestrina soup, but the derivation of the words make sense and it looks delicious!
I had never heard of minestrina soup before either – so interesting. I learn something new every day!
Kelly @ Inspired Edibles says
I’ve never heard of Minestrina soup either. Your version looks absolutely gorgeous and, although I prefer the bean variation for protein, I think this would be lovely enjoyed with a meal.
I like beans in my soup too, which I guess technically would make this a Minestrone instead of a Minestrina. Either way, this soup is light and healthy, and would make a nice meal in itself.
Gotta tell you girl, thankfully the holidays no longer challenge me with temptations. This kinda soup is the sort of stuff I always crave. Love it!
I hear you Marla – it is funny how we change over the years. I do prefer lighter foods now and find it easier to avoid all the holiday temptations.
Shirley @ gfe says
A lesson with some beautiful soup! 😉 Thanks, Jeanette! Topping this with pesto croutes makes it sound even more fabulous. So many bursts of flavor in that combo. 🙂
Thanks Shirley – loved those pesto croutes, nice crunchy contrast and yes, a burst of flavor too!
Heather @girlichef says
I love that “little accent”! This is totally my kind of meal…all I need is a bottle of win… 😉
This really sounds delicious and it is a recipe that will soon be tried in my own kitchen. It was a terrific choice to honor Anne Willan. I hope you have a great day. Blessings…Mary
Magic of Spice says
I love the addition of pesto toast…wonderful! Enjoyed the background as well, beautiful soup!
I love all of the different vegetables in this soup, and caramelizing them first sounds great!