Traditional Vegetarian Minestrone Soup

Minestrone soup with leftover whey from cheesemaking

5 from 1 review

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 or 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 piece of Parmesan rind or 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. If using Parmesan rind, chop it into strips, and add it to the pot. Bring everything to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove rosemary sprig and add in the pasta. Simmer until pasta is cooked (about 10 min).
  4. Season to taste. Serve immediately with a drizzling 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 don’t have whey, then use broth. See the section above for more details about the different types of whey.
  • The amount of salt required will depend on whether you use broth or whey. Whey may require a bit more salt. Using broth will require less salt. So season lightly, then add salt to taste.

Keywords: whey, simple, gluten free, vegetarian, winter, fall, comfort food, one-pot meal