Italian Green Soup (Minestra Verde) With Pastina Recipe

Soup is an important part of Italian cuisine, although many people are only familiar with one or two of the incredibly numerous soups Italians make. Soup is eaten as a first course, either as an alternative to pasta or with pasta in it. Soup is also a common choice for dinner since Italians traditionally enjoy their heavier meal of the day for lunch. Minestra verde is a type of Italian vegetable soup that features dark green leafy vegetables, which gives it its name — minestra means soup in Italian, and verde means green. People in various regions of Italy make this soup in slightly different ways, but all the versions are vegetable-heavy and green.

Recipe developer Michelle Bottalico has created a recipe for minestra verde that is not only nutritious but delicious and flavor-packed too. The ingredient list features four different leafy greens, which are nutritional powerhouses, and includes seven other vegetables as well. This is a satisfying and flavorful soup that also happens to be completely plant-based and suitable for vegans and vegetarians. The soup is served with pastina that is boiled separately and then mixed in at the end. Pastina isn't a specific shape of pasta but any kind of very tiny pasta shape. In the U.S. you will commonly find it in the shape of tiny stars. This recipe uses orzo pasta, but you can use any pastina you wish. This vibrant green soup may just become a delicious addition to your soup repertoire.

Gather your Italian green soup ingredients

For this recipe, you will need 4 kinds of leafy greens: parsley, kale, turnip greens, and spinach. Grab some extra virgin olive oil, salt, pepper, a leek, and an onion. The other vegetables you'll use are celery, carrots, a potato, frozen peas (make sure to thaw them ahead of time), and zucchini. This recipe calls for pastina, but not a specific kind – you can choose any kind of very tiny pasta shape. Lastly, grated pecorino cheese and toasted Italian bread are recommended for serving with the soup.

Step 1: Heat the oil

Heat the oil in a large stockpot on medium heat.

Step 2: Saute the vegetables

Place the leek, onion, celery, carrots, potato, peas, and zucchini in the pot and saute them in the oil, stirring occasionally so they don't stick, for 5-6 minutes.

Step 3: Cook the greens

Add the parsley, kale, turnip greens, and spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to wilt. You may need to add them a little at a time depending on the size of your pot.

Step 4: Pour in the water

Pour in 2 quarts of water to just cover the vegetables.

Step 5: Season and bring to a boil

Add salt and pepper and raise the heat to high to bring the water to a boil.

Step 6: Let the soup simmer

Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 1 hour. Remove from the heat.

Step 7: Blend the soup

Blend the soup with an immersion blender or blend it in batches in a blender and return it to the pot.

Step 8: Cook the pastina

Towards the end of soup-cooking time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pastina to al dente according to the package directions.

Step 9: Add the pastina to the soup

Drain the pastina and add it to the soup pot. Mix well.

Step 10: Serve the Italian green soup

Serve the Italian green soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated pecorino cheese.

Can I substitute the leafy greens in Italian green soup?

You can make substitutions to the kind or number of leafy greens used in this soup. Dark leafy green vegetables are incredibly nutritious — chock full of vitamins, minerals, and beneficial phytochemicals. The important thing is that you include them, even if you mix them up a little. We used parsley, kale, turnip greens, and spinach in this recipe, a combination that makes for a delicious and flavorful soup, but other kinds of vegetables will work.

Use what's available if you can't find the combination listed or you prefer the flavors of other greens. The kale found in Italy is called lacinato kale, Tuscan kale, or dinosaur kale, but if you can't find that, curly kale or any of the other 13 types of kale will be fine. If you want to ensure the soup remains vibrantly green, you might want to avoid purple or red varieties, though their color tends to fade as they cook. Examples of other kinds of greens that can be used are beet greens, Swiss chard, green cabbage, Savoy cabbage, chicory leaves, and escarole. If you can't find four different kinds of greens, you can use one kind, but make sure to use the total quantity of all the greens put together that's called for in the recipe.

How can I blend Italian green soup?

Minestra verde, or Italian green soup, is a blended soup. You start by cooking roughly chopped vegetables, and there's no need to fuss over chopping them beautifully or finely since everything will be blended in the end. There are a few ways you can blend the soup once it's finished cooking. A simple way is to use an immersion blender if you have one. This stick blender is inserted directly into the soup pot, which saves you from having to clean a separate blending device and allows you to blend large quantities at once. To avoid splatters and ensure even blending, make sure to keep the blades beneath the surface of the soup as you blend. Start with a slower speed, and move the blender around the pot till you achieve the desired consistency.

Another method is to transfer the soup to a regular blender and then return it to the pot. You may have to do this in batches unless you're making a smaller portion of the soup. Alternatively, you can use a food mill. This is a device with a rotating blade that you can pass the soup through to puree it. The result will be a slightly more rustic texture than the soup processed in a blender or with an immersion blender. Either is fine as it's a matter of personal preference.

Italian Green Soup (Minestra Verde) With Pastina Recipe
5 from 44 ratings
Minestra verde is an Italian soup packed with dark leafy greens. This recipe for Italian green soup is nutritious, flavorful, and entirely plant-based.
Prep Time
5
minutes
Cook Time
1.33
hours
Servings
8
Servings
green soup served on table
Total time: 1 hour, 25 minutes
Ingredients
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • 1 medium onion, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, roughly chopped
  • 4 carrots, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and roughly chopped
  • 1 ¾ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • 1 medium zucchini, roughly chopped
  • ½ bunch parsley, roughly chopped
  • 1 packed cup roughly chopped kale
  • 1 packed cup roughly chopped turnip greens
  • 5 ounces roughly chopped spinach or whole baby spinach
  • 4 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 10 ounces pastina such as orzo or another very small pasta shape
Optional Ingredients
  • Grated pecorino cheese for serving
  • Toasted Italian bread for serving
Directions
  1. Heat the oil in a large stockpot on medium heat.
  2. Place the leek, onion, celery, carrots, potato, peas, and zucchini in the pot and saute them in the oil, stirring occasionally so they don't stick, for 5-6 minutes.
  3. Add the parsley, kale, turnip greens, and spinach and cook for 2-3 minutes until they begin to wilt. You may need to add them a little at a time depending on the size of your pot.
  4. Pour in 2 quarts of water to just cover the vegetables.
  5. Add salt and pepper and raise the heat to high to bring the water to a boil.
  6. Lower the heat and let the soup simmer for 1 hour. Remove from the heat.
  7. Blend the soup with an immersion blender or blend it in batches in a blender and return it to the pot.
  8. Towards the end of soup-cooking time, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pastina to al dente according to the package directions.
  9. Drain the pastina and add it to the soup pot. Mix well.
  10. Serve the Italian green soup with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and grated pecorino cheese.
Nutrition
Calories per Serving 289
Total Fat 7.8 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Trans Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 0.0 mg
Total Carbohydrates 47.1 g
Dietary Fiber 6.0 g
Total Sugars 6.2 g
Sodium 555.4 mg
Protein 8.9 g
The information shown is Edamam’s estimate based on available ingredients and preparation. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.
Rate this recipe