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Garden Minestrone

Garden Minestrone is a one-pot low-calorie meal bursting with fresh seasonal vegetables straight from the summer garden. The perfect way to use up a surplus of zucchini, leeks, herbs, and spinach, and this version is even gluten-free!

Bowl of garden minestrone with parmesan cheese in background

Finding more and more ways to enjoy garden zucchini has become a mission for me, and if you grow zucchini in your garden too, I bet you can relate.

In the past, I’ve made Zucchini Noodles Meat Tomato Sauce, Gluten Free Zucchini Bread, and Gluten Free Zucchini Chocolate Donuts, but I also make a big batch of this garden minestrone every summer. We eat some right away, and some I freeze for later—I love being able to enjoy summer’s bounty well into the fall!

With the end of summer, our lives start to become hectic again with back to school schedules, sporting events, and shorter days. This garden minestrone soup recipe is a great way to use up seasonal produce, while keeping it simple and effortless. The recipe is gluten-free, low-calorie, and it only takes 30 minutes to prepare; pair it with a salad or fresh fruit for a healthy meal packed with nutrition.

Ingredients for garden minestrone

What You’ll Need

Scroll down to the recipe card below this post for ingredient quantities and full instructions.

  • Extra-virgin coconut oil
  • Uncured bacon – Omit the bacon and this minestrone is vegetarian.
  • Leeks – Be sure to rinse the leeks well, as they can have a good bit of grit in between the layers.
  • Zucchini – I recommend using smaller zucchini, as they taste better and have smaller seeds.
  • Sea salt
  • Ground black pepper
  • Vegetable broth – Homemade is best, but a high-quality store-bought broth is fine, too. 
  • Gluten-free small soup pasta – I used ditalini.
  • Organic frozen peas
  • Fresh spinach – The spinach wilts in the soup, so you can add as much as you’d like.
  • Grated Parmesan cheese
  • Parsley – Italian parsley is more flavorful than curly.

What Part of the Leeks Do You Eat?

Only the white and light green parts of the leek can be eaten; the darker parts are quite tough, so they’ll need to be discarded. Alternatively, you can use the dark green tops when making homemade vegetable or chicken stock; they’ll add lots of flavor to the stock and since they’ll be strained out, you don’t have to worry about their toughness.

Pouring ditalini into pot of minestrone

How to Make Garden Minestrone

Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, it’s time to start cooking! Here’s what you’ll need to do.

Cook the bacon. Melt the coconut oil in a Dutch oven or large pot set over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring, until the bacon is crisp.

Add the vegetables. Stir in the leeks and zucchini, coating them in the bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper, then cook for 7 to 8 minutes, or until the vegetables start to soften.

Simmer. Pour the vegetable stock into the pot and bring to a low boil. Stir in the pasta and boil for 2 to 3 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium-low for a gentle simmer. Add the peas and spinach, then continue to simmer until the pasta is al dente.

Finish. Turn off the heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and parsley.

Two bowls of garden minestrone

Tips for Success

These hints and tips will help you make sure your garden minestrone turns out perfect.

  • Adjust the cooking time as needed. Different pasta shapes will have different cooking times, as will different types of gluten-free pastas. For me, it took about 7 minutes for the pasta to cook to al dente.
  • Don’t over-cook. If the pasta is over-cooked, it will become mushy and may start to fall apart in the soup. You really only want to cook it just until it’s al dente, which means it’s still fairly firm. It will continue to soften a bit once you turn off the heat.
  • Use a high-quality Parmesan cheese. I recommend buying a block and grating it yourself. As a bonus, if you do this, you can throw the rind in the pot while the soup cooks for some extra flavor. Discard it before serving.


This garden minestrone is based on what I usually have on hand at this time of year, but you can adapt it to what you’re growing and change the recipe seasonally. Here are some ideas:

  • Swap the spinach for kale or chard.
  • Use yellow squash instead of zucchini, or switch to a winter squash like butternut or acorn in the fall.
  • Add diced tomatoes at the end of the summer season, when you’ve got lots to use up!
  • Use basil or any other fresh herbs from the garden instead of parsley.
  • Switch out the leeks for onions or shallots.

Bowl of garden minestrone

How to Store and Reheat Leftovers

Transfer leftover garden minestrone to an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 2 days. Reheat it on the stovetop over medium-high, stirring often.

Can This Recipe Be Frozen?

Minestrone freezes beautifully! Store it in a freezer bag and freeze it flat, or ladle it into an airtight container. Freeze for up to 3 months, then let it thaw in the refrigerator before warming on the stovetop.

Bowl of garden minestrone with parmesan cheese in background

Garden Minestrone

This garden minestrone is the perfect way to use up what you have on hand from your summer garden! It’s packed with flavor and nutrition, and it’s a filling low calorie soup you’ll love for lunches and light dinners.
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time30 minutes
Total Time35 minutes
Servings: 8 people


  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin Coconut oil
  • 2 slices of uncured bacon diced
  • 2 medium leeks white and light green parts, halved and sliced thinly
  • 2 small zucchini trimmed, quartered and cut crosswise into wedges
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 7 cups of vegetable broth {I made my broth with good quality vegetable bouillon cubes}
  • 2 cups gluten free small soup pasta {I used ditalini}
  • 2 cups organic frozen peas
  • 4 cups of fresh spinach {be generous}
  • 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 tablespoon fresh parsley chopped


  • Melt coconut oil in a dutch oven or large pot over medium high heat, once oil is melted add bacon and cook stirring until bacon is crisp.
  • Toss in leeks, zucchini and toss to coat in bacon fat. Season with salt and pepper and cook for 7-8 minutes or until the vegetables start to soften.
  • Pour in vegetable stock and bring to a low boil. Stir in pasta and cook 2-3 minutes, lower heat to medium low so that you have a gentle simmer {small bubbles just around perimeter of the pan}.
  • Stir in peas, spinach and cook pasta until al dente. For me this was about 7 more minutes. If your soup is too thick, add more broth or water.
  • Turn off heat and add parmesan cheese,and parsley.
  • Serve and enjoy. Sprinkle additional cheese on individual bowls.


Store any extra minestrone, covered in the refrigerator for up to two days. Reheat and enjoy.
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Italian


My Fitness Pal Information

Garden Minestrone is a one pot gluten free low calorie meal that is bursting with fresh seasonal vegetables straight from the summer garden | ahealthylifeforme.com

Garden Minestrone is a one pot gluten free low calorie meal that is bursting with fresh seasonal vegetables straight from the summer garden | ahealthylifeforme.com

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18 comments on “Garden Minestrone”

  1. This recipe looks amazing. Can’t wait to try it. I hope your mom is home recovering. Sending healing thoughts ❤️

    1. Thanks Stacey. My Mom is on the mend. This is a great summer soup, that really allows you to enjoy all that fabulous summer produce.

  2. Avatar photo
    Cookin Canuck

    I’m so sorry to hear about your mum’s diagnosis and I hope that her surgery went smoothly! This minestrone looks like the perfect comfort food to warm the soul.

  3. Avatar photo
    Renee - Kudos Kitchen

    I’m sorry to hear of your mom’s cancer diagnosis. I wish her the best. I’ll bet having a big bowl of your minestrone would make her feel a little better. I hug in a bowl.

  4. Avatar photo
    Heather | All Roads Lead to the Kitchen

    What a perfect way to feature your garden’s bounty, this sounds delicious! I hope all went well with your mom’s surgery, sending up some healing prayers.

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