Olive Garden Minestrone Soup are a popular menu item at Olive Garden. It’s a vegetarian soup made with a variety of fresh vegetables, beans, and pasta and typically topped with Parmesan cheese.
But, despite being a classic favorite for those visiting Olive Garden for a bite to eat, is it possible to make your version of the beloved Olive Garden minestrone from the comfort of your own home?
The good news is that it is possible to prepare your own version of the Olive Garden version, and we’re here to show you how.
In this guide, you will find a helpful breakdown of all you need to know about preparing the Olive Garden minestrone recipe.
While this recipe might not be the exact one that Olive Garden uses, it will allow you to prepare a hearty and comforting minestrone that tastes very similar to the minestrone you order at Olive Garden.
What Is Olive Garden Minestrone Soup?
Before we get any further, we want to provide a quick breakdown of minestrone and how this classic soup dish came to be.
As we’re sure you might already know, minestrone is a classic Italian soup that is both nutritious and delicious. Does it get any better than that?
To ensure the best flavor and taste experience, the pasta that is used is typically added towards the end of cooking the soup and is allowed to cook until soft,
Similarly, beans (such as kidney beans) are typically added to the soup after cooking and allowed to warm through. This will allow for the best flavor.
It’s also worth noting that Minestrone is a super versatile dish that can be served as a main course or as a starter.
Regardless of what point of the dining experience minestrone is served, it is often topped with grated Parmesan cheese and served with a slice of fresh crusty bread. Or, in Olive Garden’s case – with those delicious complimentary bread sticks!
Now that we have learned more about the history of the minestrone, we’re sure that you’ll be keen to learn how to prepare your version inspired by Olive Garden.
Just keep scrolling through our next section to discover our copycat recipe that will taste just as good as the real thing.
History Of Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
Olive Garden’s Minestrone Soup reflects the age-old culinary traditions of Italy, where rustic, vegetable-rich soup were staples for centuries.
The word “minestrone” derives from “minestra,” meaning “soup” in Italian, often thickened with beans, rice, or pasta.
While not exclusive to Olive Garden, their version captures the essence of regional variations, serving as a nod to the diverse Italian landscapes.
As the chain grew in popularity, so did its Minestrone, making it a beloved dish for those seeking a taste of Italian history in a bowl.
Interesting Facts About The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
- Vegan-Friendly: Unlike many restaurant soups, Olive Garden’s Minestrone is vegan, using no animal-derived ingredients.
- Ancient Origins: The concept of “minestrone” dates back to ancient Rome, long before Olive Garden introduced its rendition.
- Seasonal Variations: Historically, minestrone’s ingredients varied based on seasonality, ensuring the freshest produce was always utilized.
- Calorie Counter’s Delight: One bowl typically contains fewer than 200 calories, making it a lighter menu option.
- Ever-evolving Recipe: While the soup has staple ingredients, variations across regions and families in Italy can mean countless versions exist.
- A Medley of Nutrients: Packed with veggies, it’s a good source of dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
- Pasta Integration: Olive Garden’s version uses small pasta, honoring the tradition of making the soup hearty and filling.
What Makes The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup Special?
- Authenticity: It channels genuine Italian traditions, offering a taste of Italy in every bite.
- Freshness: Olive Garden prides itself on using fresh, high-quality ingredients, ensuring vibrant flavors.
- Vegan Delight: It’s rare in mainstream restaurants to find such a flavorful vegan option.
- Balance: A harmonious blend of vegetables, beans, and pasta, achieving heartiness and lightness.
- Consistency: Despite its complex profile, the soup consistently tastes across branches.
- Nutrition Packed: Beyond taste, it’s a healthful bowl brimming with essential nutrients.
- Culinary Expertise: The soup is a testament to Olive Garden’s commitment to culinary excellence.
|Ingredient||Quantity & Preparation|
|Olive oil||2 tablespoons|
|Garlic||2 cloves, diced|
|Celery||2 stalks, chopped|
|Carrots||2, thinly sliced|
|Zucchini||1, carefully diced|
|Fresh tomatoes (canned)||1 can (14 oz)|
|Vegetable or chicken stock||6 cups|
|Kidney beans||1 can (15 oz), drained and rinsed|
|Great Northern beans||1 can (15 oz), drained and rinsed|
|Small pasta (ditalini/elbow macaroni)||1/2 cup|
|Dried basil||1 teaspoon|
|Dried oregano||1 teaspoon|
|Dried thyme||1 teaspoon|
|Black pepper||1/4 teaspoon|
|Parmesan cheese (for topping)||As desired|
- Olive Oil: Opt for extra-virgin for richer flavor and aroma.
- Onion: Yellow or white onions work best for soups due to their mildness.
- Garlic: Fresh garlic bulbs ensure a punchier taste than pre-packaged minced garlic.
- Celery: Use fresh, crisp stalks; the leaves can add flavor.
- Carrots: Choose firm, brightly-colored carrots for optimal freshness and sweetness.
- Zucchini: Pick medium-sized zucchini; they tend to be more tender.
- Tomatoes: If unavailable fresh, opt for canned tomatoes without added salt or sugar.
Can You Vary The Recipe With Other Ingredients?
- Keto: Skip the beans and pasta, and add more low-carb veggies like bell peppers or mushrooms. Use bone broth to enhance the flavor and fat content.
- Paleo: Omit the beans and pasta. Include sweet potatoes or cauliflower florets for substance. Ensure your broth is free from additives.
- Gluten-Free: Use gluten-free pasta or substitute with quinoa. Double-check your broth for hidden gluten sources.
- Whole30: Ditch beans and pasta, and bulk up the soup with more vegetables. Ensure no sugars or additives are in your canned tomatoes and broth.
- Vegetarian & Vegan: The original recipe is already vegetarian. For a vegan variant, ensure the broth is vegetable-based and omit or substitute the Parmesan cheese with a vegan alternative.
- Even though Minestrone is known for being a soup recipe that is relatively easy to make, the same can’t necessarily be said for the preparation of it!
- As you will have seen from our ingredients section above, there’s plenty of preparing that you will need to do for the ingredients used, and this can take quite some time.
- For this reason, if you have a busy schedule or like to be organized, we highly recommend that you consider preparing the vegetables and other ingredients you will be using beforehand.
- One or two days before making your Olive Garden minestrone copycat recipe, we suggest that you slice and dice your vegetables and ensure you have gathered all of the additional ingredients you will need, such as beans and stock.
- Warm: In a pot over medium heat, warm olive oil. Avoid overheating.
- Sauté: Add onion and garlic. Sauté until the onion turns translucent.
- Veggies: Mix in celery, carrots, and zucchini. Cook for 10 minutes.
- Tomatoes: Stir in diced tomatoes with their juices. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Stock: Add your choice of stock and bring to a simmer.
- Add-ons: Incorporate beans, pasta, and herbs.
- Simmer: Let the pasta cook through, around 10-15 minutes.
- Season: Adjust with salt and pepper, if desired.
- Serve: Ladle into bowls, sprinkle with Parmesan, and enjoy!
Variations, Add-Ons, And Toppings
- Protein Boost: Incorporate shredded chicken or diced turkey for added heartiness.
- Grain Alternative: Replace traditional pasta with quinoa or barley for a nutty flavor.
- Greens: Stir in chopped kale or spinach for added nutrients during the last few minutes of cooking.
- Legumes: Experiment with chickpeas or black beans for a different twist.
- Heat: Introduce a chopped chili or a splash of hot sauce for a spicier version.
- Cheese: Apart from Parmesan, consider mozzarella or feta.
- Herbs: Freshly chopped basil or parsley adds brightness.
- Crunch: Top with croutons or a sprinkle of toasted pine nuts.
- Creaminess: A dollop of sour or vegan cashew cream can add richness.
Scaling The Recipe
- Ingredient Ratios: Maintain the ratio between ingredients. If doubling, multiply every ingredient by 2; if halving, divide by 2.
- Equipment: Ensure the cookware is adequately sized. A larger pot may be necessary if scaling up.
- Cooking Time: While scaling, the cooking time might not strictly double or halve. For instance, doubling might take slightly longer than twice the original time for ingredients to cook correctly, but not necessarily double.
- Taste Adjustments: After scaling, always taste and adjust seasonings accordingly.
- Storage: Consider storage requirements, especially when scaling up. You may need additional containers or refrigerator space.
- Serving Size: Remember that scaling changes the number of servings. Adjust according to the desired number of portions.
What Is Used For Garnishing?
- Herbs: Fresh basil, parsley, cilantro, or dill can add color and aroma.
- Citrus: Lemon or lime zest and wedges provide a burst of freshness.
- Edible Flowers: They add elegance and a splash of color.
- Seeds & Nuts: Toasted sesame seeds, sunflower seeds, or pine nuts add crunch.
- Vegetable Curls: Made from cucumber or carrot for a visual twist.
- Grated Cheese: Adds creaminess and visual appeal.
- Spices: A sprinkle of paprika or sumac for color and flavor.
- Drizzles: Balsamic reduction, olive oil, or sauces for contrast.
- Microgreens: Tiny, delicate greens offer a fresh touch.
Can I Make Olive Garden Minestrone Soup In A Slow Cooker Or Instant Pot?
- Sauté onion, garlic, celery, carrots, and zucchini in a pan before adding them to the slow cooker. This enriches the flavor.
- Combine all ingredients, except pasta and Parmesan, in the slow cooker.
- Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4 hours.
- In the last 30 minutes, add the pasta.
- Use the “Sauté” function for onion, garlic, and veggies.
- Add all ingredients except pasta and Parmesan.
- Lock the lid and cook on “Manual” or “Pressure Cook” for 6 minutes.
- Release pressure, add pasta, and use “Sauté” again to cook it.
Can I Use Store Bought Broth, Or Should I Make My Own?
Both store-bought and homemade broths have advantages, and your choice largely depends on convenience, taste preference, and dietary considerations.
- Convenience: Ideal for quick meals without the hours-long process of making broth from scratch.
- Variety: Available in multiple flavors and types, such as organic, low-sodium, or bone broth.
- Consistency: Offers a predictable flavor and consistency each time.
- Flavor Depth: Allows customization of ingredients, yielding a richer, more nuanced taste.
- Control: No preservatives, additives, or excessive salt. Perfect for those with dietary restrictions.
- Cost-Effective: This can be made using kitchen scraps like vegetable peels and bones.
Can I Use Different Types Of Meat/Fish/Pasta/Vegetables For The Soup?
The beauty of Minestrone lies in its adaptability.
- Chicken: Shredded chicken can add protein without overpowering the soup.
- Sausage: Crumbled Italian sausage can infuse a spicy kick.
- Fish: Mild white or shrimp can be added for a pescatarian twist.
- Whole Wheat: A healthier alternative.
- Gluten-Free: Available in many shapes and sizes for those with dietary restrictions.
- Leafy Greens: Spinach, kale, or Swiss chard.
- Root Veggies: Turnips, parsnips, or sweet potatoes.
Success Tips – Tips And Tricks For Making The Soup
- Mise en Place: Organize and measure ingredients before starting, ensuring smooth cooking.
- Uniform Chopping: Cut veggies uniformly to ensure even cooking.
- Stock Quality: Use a rich, flavorful stock. It’s the foundation of your soup.
- Herbs: Fresh herbs add brightness; dried herbs give depth. Adjust based on the desired flavor profile.
Cooking Time Tips
- Layering: Add ingredients based on their cooking time. Root vegetables first, delicate veggies later.
- Simmer, Don’t Boil: A gentle simmer extracts flavors without clouding the soup.
- Taste as You Go: Adjust seasonings gradually.
- Rest: Letting soup rest for a bit after cooking melds flavors together.
Olive Garden Minestrone Soup melds nutrition with taste. Rich in vitamins, fiber, and protein, this hearty bowl promises health and flavor. Dive into a balanced culinary delight!
What Are The Total Calories In The Soup?
Determining the exact calorie count for a soup, especially when variations exist, requires precise measurements of each ingredient and knowledge about their caloric values.
However, an average serving of Olive Garden Minestrone Soup typically ranges from 150 to 250 calories per bowl, depending on portion size and specific ingredients. Factors like added cheese, oil amount, and pasta type can influence this number.
Dietary Restrictions Of The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
- Vegetarian: As traditionally made, it’s vegetarian-friendly since it doesn’t contain meat. However, ensure the broth is vegetable-based.
- Vegan: Excluding the Parmesan cheese garnish makes it vegan. Again, be cautious about the broth base.
- Gluten: Contains gluten due to the pasta. Substitute with gluten-free pasta for a gluten-free version.
- Low-Carb/Keto: Pasta and beans contribute to the carbohydrate content. For a keto-friendly version, omit these and add more low-carb veggies.
- Allergens: Contains potential allergens like celery and wheat (from pasta). Always check ingredient labels and modify them based on specific allergies.
- Salt: Prepared soups can be high in sodium. Control salt levels by adjusting to taste, especially if using store-bought broth.
Health Benefits Of The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
- Rich in Fiber: Beans, veggies, and pasta contribute to a high fiber content, promoting digestive health.
- Low in Fat: Primarily plant-based, it’s generally low in saturated fats, supporting cardiovascular health.
- Vitamin-Rich: Loaded with vegetables, it provides essential vitamins like A, C, and K.
- Mineral Source: Ingredients like beans supply vital minerals, including iron, magnesium, and potassium.
- Protein: Beans also add a protein punch, crucial for muscle repair and growth.
- Antioxidants: Tomatoes and other veggies offer antioxidants, which combat free radicals in the body.
- Hydration: Its broth base helps with hydration, especially beneficial in colder months.
How Can I Make Olive Garden Minestrone Soup Lower In Sodium?
- Homemade Broth: Opt for homemade vegetable or chicken broth. Commercial broths often contain high sodium levels.
- No-Salt-Added Canned Goods: Use no-salt-added canned tomatoes and beans.
- Rinse Canned Beans: Rinsing regular canned beans under cold water can reduce their sodium content.
- Limit Added Salt: Adjust the amount of added salt, tasting as you go. Add it at the end to better gauge the flavor.
- Herbs & Spices: Increase herbs (basil, oregano, thyme) and add other seasonings like garlic and black pepper to enhance flavor without extra salt.
- Fresh Vegetables: Rely more on fresh veggies, which are naturally low in sodium.
How Can I Make Olive Garden Minestrone Soup Lower In Sugar?
- Tomatoes: Opt for no-sugar-added canned tomatoes. Some canned varieties contain added sugars.
- Fresh Ingredients: Prioritize fresh vegetables over canned or pre-packaged options, which sometimes have added sugars for preservation.
- Check Broth: Some commercial broths contain sugars. Look for varieties labeled “no added sugar,” or make your own at home.
- Beans: Some canned beans come in a sugar-laced syrup. Always rinse them or buy beans without added sugars.
- Natural Flavor Enhancers: Boost flavor with herbs (basil, oregano, thyme) and spices rather than relying on sweeteners.
- Taste Test: Adjust ingredients gradually, tasting as you go to maintain a balanced flavor profile.
How To Serve The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup At Its Best?
- Temperature: Ensure the soup is hot but not boiling; this maintains flavor and texture.
- Bowls: Pre-warm the serving bowls. This keeps the soup warmer for longer and enhances the dining experience.
- Garnish: A sprinkle of freshly grated Parmesan cheese adds a touch of richness. Consider a sprig of fresh basil or parsley for added color.
- Bread: Pair with warm, crusty bread or Olive Garden-style breadsticks. The bread complements the soup and can soak up its savory goodness.
- Accompaniments: A side of fresh salad with a light vinaigrette complements the hearty nature of the soup.
- Presentation: Serve promptly with a soup spoon and napkin, prioritizing aesthetics and functionality.
Perfect Side Dishes To Compliment Olive Garden Minestrone Soup
- Breadsticks: Olive Garden’s signature breadsticks are a no-brainer, offering a soft, buttery bite.
- Caesar Salad: A crisp Caesar salad with fresh romaine, Parmesan, and croutons contrasts the soup’s warmth.
- Bruschetta: Toasted bread topped with diced tomatoes, basil, and garlic adds a touch of Italian authenticity.
- Roasted Vegetables: Lightly seasoned and roasted veggies like bell peppers or zucchini add color and nutrition.
- Polenta: Creamy polenta can balance the chunky texture of the soup.
- Grilled Cheese Sandwich: A melty, golden sandwich, perhaps with mozzarella, adds comfort and richness.
- Caprese Skewers: Cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, and basil drizzled with balsamic glaze are a refreshing side option.
How Long Can We Store The Soup?
- Have any leftovers once you have finished preparing your batch? You will be able to easily store your minestrone leftovers to enjoy throughout the week or at a later date.
- To store your leftover minestrone safely (and to preserve the taste and texture of your Olive Garden-inspired minestrone, you must ensure that you have allowed the soup to cool before transferring it to a storage container.
- After the soup has cooled, you can place it inside a refrigerator-friendly container, where you can keep it for up to one week. Although, most people agree that the flavor and texture of leftover minestrone begin to dwindle after the 5-day mark.
- Alternatively, suppose you would like to store your Olive Garden-inspired minestrone to enjoy at a much later date. In that case, you can also opt to freeze your leftovers. To do this, ensure you have allowed the minestrone to cool down completely.
- Then, once the soup has cooled off, you can transfer the leftovers into a freezer-friendly container or ziplock bag. Once frozen in the freezer, it will keep for around 5 months.
Can I Make The Soup In Advance?
- Flavor Development: Soups often taste better the next day as the flavors meld and intensify.
- Convenience: Preparing ahead can ease mealtime stress, especially for gatherings or busy days.
- Storage: Cool the soup promptly after cooking, then store it in the refrigerator.
- Reheating: Gently reheat on the stove, stirring occasionally. Add a little broth or water to achieve the desired consistency if the soup thickens.
- Pasta Note: If making ahead, consider adding pasta just before serving to prevent it from getting overly soft.
What Can We Do With Leftovers?
- Pasta Sauce: Reduce the soup until thickened and serve over your favorite pasta.
- Stuffed Bell Peppers: Use as a flavorful filling for bell peppers, then bake.
- Rice Medley: Mix with cooked rice or quinoa for a hearty grain bowl.
- Wrap Filling: A moist filling inside tortilla wraps or pita pockets.
- Soup Base: Add fresh ingredients like spinach, sausage, or other proteins to create a new soup variation.
- Casserole: Combine with cheese, top with breadcrumbs, and bake until bubbly.
- Frittata: Add beaten eggs and bake for a soup-infused frittata.
Special Tools/Equipment Needed
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven: A deep pot ensures ample space for sautéing and simmering all ingredients without spillage.
- Good Quality Knife: Essential for finely chopping vegetables to ensure even cooking and a consistent bite.
- Cutting Board: A sizable board aids in chopping multiple ingredients efficiently.
- Wooden Spoon: Ideal for stirring the soup, ensuring ingredients don’t stick to the pot’s base.
- Ladle: For serving the soup neatly.
- Can Opener: To open canned tomatoes, beans, or broth if not using fresh.
- Measuring Cups and Spoons: Ensures accurate ingredient portions for taste balance.
All in all? Whether from popular chain restaurants like Olive Garden or being made from scratch at home, minestrone is a delicious and healthy dish that is super easy to make and perfect to enjoy any time of the year.
Plus, thanks to the delicious combination of vegetables, pasta, and beans, it’s safe to say that Minestrone is a filling and nutritious meal that can be enjoyed by the whole family, even the pickiest of eaters!
Before you click off, why don’t you consider giving this page a bookmark? That way, if you ever need to come back and refresh your memory on how to make an Olive Garden classic minestrone from home, you’ll know exactly where to find us.
Thanks for reading, and we hope you have fun getting creative in the kitchen with this copycat recipe!
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Frozen Vegetables In The Minestrone Soup?
Absolutely! Frozen vegetables can be a time-saver. Ensure they’re thawed and drained of excess water before adding them to the pot. Remember that frozen vegetables might have a slightly different texture than fresh.
Is The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup Spicy?
No, the traditional Olive Garden Minestrone Soup is not spicy. It’s seasoned with herbs like basil, oregano, and thyme for a rich, flavorful broth without heat. Add some red pepper flakes or a dash of hot sauce if you prefer a kick.
Can I Skip The Pasta In The Soup?
Yes, you can omit the pasta if you’re aiming for a lower-carb version or prefer a soup without it. Alternatively, you can substitute it with grains like barley or quinoa.
How Do I Know When The Soup Is Done Cooking?
The soup is ready when the vegetables are tender, the pasta is cooked to al dente, and the flavors have melded together. Tasting and adjusting the seasoning before serving is always a good idea.
Is The Olive Garden Minestrone Soup Suitable For Freezing?
Yes, the soup freezes well. However, if planning to freeze, it’s advisable to leave the pasta out and add it fresh when reheating. This ensures the pasta doesn’t get overly soft or mushy when reheated.
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