Traditional Whey Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup with leftover whey from cheesemaking

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Traditional minestrone soup often is made using leftover whey from cheesemaking. It adds richness and protein to this hearty vegetarian soup.


Units Scale
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 3 celery, including leaves, finely diced
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 cup mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 5 cups total liquid, a mix of water and whey (or broth, see notes)
  • 1 large (28 oz) can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 (15 oz) can of chickpeas or 1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas
  • 1 sprig of fresh rosemary (1 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil (1 tsp dried)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley (1 tsp dried)
  • 1 tsp salt, to taste
  • 1 cup pasta
  • 1/4 cup of fresh grated Parmesan


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add vegetables and saute on medium until the onions are tender, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the water, whey, tomatoes, beans, and herbs. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the rosemary sprig and stir in the pasta. Simmer until pasta is cooked (about 10 min).
  4. Season to taste. Serve immediately with a drizzle of olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese.


  • The proportion of whey to water will depend on how fresh and sweet the whey is. If you have sweet whey from making a hard cheese, feel free to use the full 5 cups, with no additional water. For acid whey (usually from fresh cheese) use between 1-2 cups of whey. The flavor of whey should be subtle, so don’t overdo it. If you aren’t sure, then taste the whey and dilute it until it’s palatable. See the section above for more details about the different types of whey.
  • If you don’t have whey, then use broth. 
  • The amount of salt required will depend on whether you use broth or whey. Whey may require a bit more salt. Season lightly, then add salt to taste.