V8 Juice Is The Unexpected Ingredient Your Minestrone Needs

A delightfully hearty soup can get even heartier. We're talking about minestrone – the warming, stick-to-your-ribs potion of beans, potatoes, pasta, and veggies that will once and for all squash the naysayers who think soup isn't a meal. Minestrone is here to keep bellies full all season long, especially with the simple addition of one flavorful ingredient: V8 juice.

If you haven't been cooking with V8 juice, news flash: It's time to start. It's killer in chili, goulash, and rice pilaf, and it's just the savory secret that your minestrone has been missing. For starters, the juice's ingredients label reads like a soup recipe. Classic V8 is made from juiced tomatoes, carrots, celery, beets, parsley, lettuce, watercress, and spinach. (Sounds like a mini-minestrone.) V8 also packs two servings of vegetables per 8 ounces of juice, plus vitamins A and C, which will instantly transform your already veggie-packed minestrone into a nutrient bomb.

To make it work for your minestrone, simply combine equal parts V8 and water to create a rich, spiced tomato broth. This is also a flavorful way to keep your minestrone vegetarian-friendly (and low in sodium, if you opt for the "low sodium" V8 juice). Alternatively, if you prefer a meatier flavor, you could also use a combination of V8 and chicken broth. 

Savory acidity saves the day

As you experiment, keep in mind that the V8 will add a big tomato flavor. Depending on your preference, you might want to adjust your regular go-to minestrone recipe to use fewer tomatoes. Or, if extra savory acidity is your style, that totally works, too. You could also heat things up and use V8 Spicy Hot and spicy chili tomatoes for a zesty kick.

This elevated minestrone would also work great in a slow cooker for a cozy fix-it and forget-it meal on busy weeknights. Plus, you can make a big batch of the soup ahead of time and freeze it in individual Mason jars for easy portioned make-ahead meal prep. Feel free to get creative with your spices here, as well. Bay leaves, garlic, white or black pepper, and thyme would all play up the profile of the V8 juice. To complete the meal, serve your tomatoey minestrone with warm garlic bread and a crisp, savory Caesar side salad.