Traditional minestrone soup uses sweet whey from cheesemaking as part of the broth. The hearty mix of beans, pasta and vegetables perfectly blends with the rich and tangy flavour of whey.
While minestrone soup would have been made with whey from Parmesan or Romano cheese it is also delicious with slightly more acidic whey (from kefir cheese or Greek yogurt.) If you aren’t sure what type of whey you have, check out this post on How to use whey for more information.
A Soup For Everyone
Minestrone soup is one of those hearty soups that can easily be customized for any diet. (The photographed soup is gluten free and vegetarian.) It is a perfect clean-out-your-pantry sort of soup. Here are some ways to customize minestrone soup.
- Gluten free: This soup is easy to make gluten free, just use a gluten free pasta. I like the bright yellow of the corn pasta, in the photo above.
- Vegetarian: While bacon is traditional, the soup doesn’t need any added flavours.
- Mix and match vegetables: pretty much any kind of vegetables will work in this soup. Use what ever is in season.
- Toppings: I love adding a bit of extra flavours to this soup. Serve it with a spoonful of homemade pesto, diced kalamata olives or garlic croutons.
Traditional Minestrone Soup
Traditional minestrone soup uses leftover whey from cheesemaking in the broth. This hearty soup is absolutely delicious with the added richness and tang of whey.
- Prep Time: 15 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 45 minutes
- Yield: Serves 6-8 1x
- Category: Soup
- Cuisine: Italian
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 1/2 cup chopped onion
- 3/4 cup chopped carrots
- 3/4 cup minced celery (including leaves)
- 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped
- 1 cup chopped mushrooms
- 1 sprig of fresh rosemary or 1 tsp dried
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (1 tsp dried)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (1 tsp dried)
- 1 large can of chopped tomatoes
- 1 large can of chickpeas or 2 cups cooked chickpeas
- 8 cups of liquid (mix of broth and whey -see notes)
- 2 tsp salt (to taste)
- 1 cup pasta
- 1 piece of Parmesan rind or 1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot, then add vegetables and saute until the onions are tender.
- Add in the herbs, tomatoes, liquid, beans, salt and Parmesan rind (if using), and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Remove rosemary sprig and add in pasta. Simmer until pasta is cooked (about 10 min.)
- Season to taste and serve with a drizzling of olive oil and more Parmesan cheese.
- It is traditional to add a few slice of bacon to minestrone soup. To add bacon, only use 2 tbsp of olive oil, and fry up 4 slices of bacon with the vegetables.
- The proportion of whey to broth will depend on how sweet the whey is. For fresh sweet whey, use whey for the full 8 cups of liquid. For older whey or acid whey use between 2-4 cups of whey. The flavour of whey should be subtle, so don’t over do it. If you don’t have whey, then use water or broth.
- The amount of salt required will depend on whether you use broth or whey. Whey may require a bit more salt, broth will require less salt. So season lightly, then salt taste.
- Feel free to replace the vegetables with whatever is in season. Fresh greens, zucchini, fennel or root vegetables are all delicious in this soup.
Keywords: whey, simple, gluten free, vegetarian, winter, fall, comfort food, one-pot meal