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.

A white bowl filled with minestrone soup with beans and vegetables

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.

A closeup of minestrone soup with beach, vegetables and grated Parmesan

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.

The pork: The soup achieves the basis of it’s flavor with 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.

A spoonful of vegetables from minestrone soup

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.

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. The rind of the wedge is used in the soup for amazing flavor. It’s the Italian soup secret to amazing flavor.

Viewed from overhead, a bowl of Milanese minestrone soup with bread

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.

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Yield: 4 quarts/12 cups

Milanese Minestrone Soup

A white bowl filled with minestrone soup with beans and vegetables

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 (113 grams) pancetta finely chopped
  • 2 cups (256 grams) yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled, finely chopped
  • 4 large celery stalks, chopped
  • 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
  • 1 large or 2 medium zucchini/courgette, chopped small
  • 12 ounces (340 grams) potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 2 tablespoons fresh basil, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons flat leaf Italian parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons fresh sage, finely chopped
  • 15 ounces (425 grams) peeled and chopped tomatoes, drained of the juice
  • 12 cups (3 liters) chicken stock
  • Parmesan cheese wedge
  • 3/4 cup (150 grams) arborio rice
  • 2 cups (178 grams) green cabbage, chopped
  • 15 ounces (425 grams) 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 lightly browned and onions softened. Add the garlic and stir, cook for 1 minute. Add the celery, carrots, zucchini, potatoes, basil, parsley and sage. 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. Bring to a simmer, partially cover with a lid and cook for 1 hour.
  4. After 1 hour, add the rice and cabbage, simmer for 25 minutes until the rice is tender and the soup is thickened.
  5. Stir in the cannellini beans and remove the Parmesan rind.
  6. Taste for seasoning (depending how salty your chicken stock is) and add salt.
  7. Serve hot topped with grated Parmesan cheese.

Nutrition Information



Serving Size


Amount Per Serving Calories 451Total Fat 6gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 8mgSodium 1100mgCarbohydrates 88gFiber 15gSugar 0gProtein 23g

This nutrition calculation is provided by Nutronix that is only a guideline and not intended for any particular diet.

Autumn Minestrone Soup

Autumn minestrone in a grey bowl topped with grated Parmesan cheese