Better-for-you minestrone soup

Oct 02, 2020
This tasty soup is perfect for an easy weeknight meal. Source: Supplied.

This delicious and healthy recipe was supplied to Starts at 60 by Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos from her new book The Heart Health Guide. She said this hearty soup was created by her daughter Vivienne and includes a range of vegetables, fresh herbs, spices and three bean varieties to boost protein and fibre.

This recipe makes a massive batch which is perfect for freezing in smaller portions if need be. And while it’s preferable to use fresh pasta, if you end up using dried because it’s cheaper – make sure you cook it separately and add towards the end otherwise the soup will thicken too much.


  • 1/3 cup (80 ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • 1 leek, white and light green parts, finely sliced and washed
  • 1 fennel bulb, finely diced
  • 3 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 3 small carrots, finely diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, finely diced
  • 1 small red chilli, halved, deseeded and finely diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 x 400 g tin chopped tomatoes
  • 2 small zucchini, diced
  • 10 g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in boiling water for 10 minutes, drained and diced, soaking water reserved
  • 1 x 400 g tin brown lentils, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400 g tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 x 400 g tin cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 8 cups (2 litres) low-salt vegetable stock
  • 1 cup fresh casarecci, or dried red lentil pasta or green pea casarecci
  • 1/2 bunch basil, leaves picked
  • 60 g baby spinach leaves
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Optional: finely grated parmesan, to serve


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large heavy-based saucepan over a medium–high heat and sauté the onion, leek, fennel, celery and carrot for 10–15 minutes, or until softened and lightly golden. Add the garlic, chilli, oregano, tomato, zucchini, porcini mushrooms, retained mushroom water from soaking, lentils, chickpeas, cannellini beans and vegetable stock. Stir and simmer for 30 minutes.
  2. Add the pasta and cook according to packet instructions, or until al dente.
  3. Tear the basil leaves into the soup and add the baby spinach. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve with a sprinkle of grated parmesan if you like.

The Heart Health Guide by Dr Catherine Itsiopoulos, Published by Macmillan, RRP $34.99, Photography by Rob Palmer.

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