This long and slow cooked Milanese Minestrone Soup is what you will find in a trattoria in Italy’s capital city of Milan. Loaded with vegetables, herbs, beans and rice, this soup gets a major flavor boost from a very Italian ingredient.

Milanese Minestrone Soup in a white bowl on a white plate with Parmesan cheese

In typical Italian fashion, different regions of Italy have their own take on this popular soup. Minestrone translates to ‘big soup’ and seasonal vegetables are always used with a few differences depending on where you are.

An example of another Italian soup region is my Autumn Minestrone Soup. This is more of the Roman-style using lots of vegetables, beef stock and pasta whereas this Milanese version uses herbs, cabbage, pancetta and chicken stock that is lighter in color.  Another version of minestrone soup from the Liguria region adds pesto.

A closeup showing the colorful vegetables and beans with grated Parmesan cheese

The pork

The soup is started with cooking pork, traditionally guanciale (gwan-chall-eh) which is pork jowls or cheek. Since this is not always available to most of us, pancetta can also be used.

The rice

Italian Arborio or carneroli rice is added towards the end of the cooking and this is what gives the soup it’s thick consistency.


The soup from overhead with crusty bread

Parmesan cheese

The major flavor booster for this recipe is the rind from a Parmesan cheese wedge.  There’s a couple of reasons for this, so please don’t skip this step.

  1. The rind of the wedge is used in the soup for amazing flavor. It’s the Italian soup secret to amazing flavor.
  2. Pre-grated cheese has no taste and who knows what cheese you’re buying.

This soup freezes so well. I like to re-use the soup containers from my Chinese takeout. To reheat, I microwave for a couple of minutes to loosen the soup from the container, then add to a saucepan to heat through.

A bite of soup on a black spoon with a bowl of soup in the background

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Yield: 4 quarts/12 cups

Milanese Minestrone Soup

Milanese Minestrone loaded with vegetables and beans in a white bowl

Lots of vegetables and beans slow cooked with a Parmesan cheese rind

Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 55 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 4 ounces Pancetta finely chopped
  • 9 ounces onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 8 ounces carrot (3 medium) peeled and chopped
  • 8 ounces zucchini, chopped small
  • 12 ounces potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 14 ounces peeled and chopped tomatoes, drained of the juice
  • 12 cups chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese wedge
  • 3/4 cup arborio rice
  • 6 ounces green cabbage, chopped
  • 15 ounces cannellini beans, rinsed
  • Salt to taste


  1. To a sauté pan add the oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the pancetta and onions and cook until the pancetta is browned and onions softened. Add the garlic and stir, cook for 1 minute. Add the celery, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, basil, sage and parsley. Stir to combine all the ingredients. Stir in the tomatoes and chicken stock. 
  3. Cut the rind off the Parmesan cheese and add to the soup.
  4. Bring to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes.
  5. After 30 minutes, add the rice  and cabbage, simmer for 25  minutes until the rice is tender and the soup is thickened.
  6. Stir in the cannellini beans and remove the Parmesan rind.
  7. Taste for seasoning (depending how salty your chicken stock is) and add  salt.
  8. Serve hot, topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Information


12 cups

Serving Size

1 cup

Amount Per Serving Calories 286Total Fat 10gSaturated Fat 3gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 6gCholesterol 14mgSodium 446mgCarbohydrates 38gFiber 5gSugar 10gProtein 13g

Autumn Minestrone Soup

Autumn Minestrone Soup in a grey bowl on a burlap placemat with Parmesan cheese and a spoon