Classic Minestrone with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto

  • By Jess Dang
  • February 16, 2014

Minestrone Soup with Sundried Tomato Pesto #recipe via @cooksmarts

The previous two recipes this month have all focused on how to get more flavor out of proteins (see Tofu with Curried Cabbage and Carrots and Pork Tenderloin with Cran-Balsamic Sauce). Today’s Minestrone Soup with Sun-dried Tomato Pesto recipe focuses on how to make a soup more flavorful with a simple hand-chopped pesto.

Clearly, you can use these types of pestos well beyond soups, but it’s likely you never considered adding a pesto to a soup for extra flavor. Most soups are seasoned with a lot of salt. If you’ve ever looked at the nutritional label of a canned soup, you’ll notice how high the sodium level is. Some of that is due to the extra preservatives needed to make that soup hold up long enough to pass onto your grandchildren, but a lot of it is just salt.

Minestrone Soup with Sundried Tomato Pesto #recipe via @cooksmarts

Even a basic hand-chopped pesto (this one uses just two basic ingredients – sun-dried tomatoes and parsley) can make a huge difference in flavor and is a lot more colorful and fun than adding salt to your homemade soup.

I love a good minestrone soup, especially when I already have a little bit of leftover cooked pasta on hand, but feel free to get creative and use this pesto topping on all types of soups.

Let us know your favorite soup in the comments below, so we can think of some fun way to jazz it up!

Prepping Smarts:

You can definitely use a blender or a food processor to make a pesto, but hand chopping is a great way to improve your knife skills. See how in our video below:


How to Make a Hand-Chopped Pesto

Food processors and blenders are not needed to make a delicious herb pesto.

Click here for more ideas on different hand-chopped pesto combinations.

Many soups start with onions and carrots. Make sure you know how to chop them quickly and efficiently using our videos below:


How to Slice an Onion

Learn the most efficient way to slice, dice, and chop onions so that your prep always goes smoothly.


How to Chop Carrots

Watch this video to learn our tips on how to best peel, chop, and dice carrots easily.

Equipment Smarts:

A Dutch oven is great for making soups because it retains heat so well.


 For more kitchen and equipment and tool smarts, visit our ‘Essential Kitchen Cookware and Tools’ 


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Classic Minestrone with Sundried Tomato Pesto

This classic minestrone is a great cold weather soup. Punched up with a tasty pesto, this traditional soup will wow your taste buds!

Prep time: 20 min

Cook time: 20 min

Total time: 40 min

Serves: 4-6


  • Garlic - 4 cloves, minced
  • Onions - 1, diced
  • Carrots - 3/4 lb., diced
  • Celery - 2 stalks, diced
  • Potatoes - 3/4 lb., diced
  • Thyme - 2 tsp.
  • Diced tomatoes - 1 can, drained
  • Bay leaf - 1
  • Chicken stock - 6 cups
  • Salt - 1 1/2 tsp.
  • Black pepper - 1/2 tsp.
  • Parsley - 1/4 bunch
  • Sundried tomatoes - 1/4 cup
  • Kidney beans - 1 can, rinsed and drained
  • Pasta, cooked - 2 cups
  • Parmesan cheese - for serving over soup, grated



  1. Garlic / Onions / Carrots / Celery – Prep as directed. (Can be done 3 days ahead)
  2. Potatoes – Prep as directed.


  1. Heat a 5 quart Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add oil and then garlic, onions, carrots, celery, potatoes, and thyme to heated oil with a generous dash of salt. Saute for ~5 minutes.
  2. Add in drained tomatoes, bay leaf, stock, salt and pepper. Cover and bring to a boil and then simmer for another 15 minutes, until vegetables are tender.
  3. While soup is cooking, chop parsley and sundried tomatoes together, forming a hand-chopped pesto.
  4. Stir in beans and leftover pasta and season soup to taste with salt and pepper. Serve warm in bowls and finish with a spoon of pesto and parmesan cheese if desired.


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