October 15, 2015 20

No-Recipe Minestrone Soup + scenes from red gold farm!

Minestrone Soup | @withfoodandlove

A few weeks ago I found myself waist deep {almost literally?} in an Indiana cornfield all for the love of tomatoes. It was fun and interesting, and indirectly I learned a lot about how our food industry works. As well as the very involved process of growing, processing and packaging tomatoes. I met {in real life} this beautiful person, we drank local wine together and ate a delicious farm-to-table meal in a picturesque red barn under twinkling lights.

Red Gold sponsored this trip. Their tomatoes are sourced locally from Indiana farms {Midwest pride!}. And their products are certified non-GMO, and their cans are BPA-free, two things I value highly. If you want to learn more about canned tomatoes, Epicurious interviews a Red Gold representative and breaks down all the basics for you here.

I want to talk more about what it means to farm without GMOs in this country, and why organic is the only sure way to avoid GMOs, but I’ll save that for another time. For now, let’s talk about homemade minestrone soup – because that’s what I think about when I think of canned tomatoes.

Red Gold Farms | @withfoodandlove

Red Gold Farms | @withfoodandlove

Minestrone Soup | @withfoodandlove

As a child I learned how to cook from watching and observing the matriarchs in my family. I was never really taught how to cook with a recipe. Growing up in my Italian home there were always a few staples in rotation. Red sauce and pasta, pasta with cauliflower and beans, peppers and eggs, stuffed artichokes and minestrone soup.

No-recipe minestrone soup aka minestrone soup made without a recipe, is probably the first thing I really learned how to cook on my own. I mastered it in college, and it is still my most cooked thing as an adult. And as a health coach one of my most asked questions is, what are your favorite go-to healthy snacks? Among many things, I always reply with soup – and that answer is surprising for most. At the beginning of every week, I prep a bunch of roasted veg, a sauce to drizzle {lately its been this dressing}, a large batch of grains/legumes, and a giant pot of minestrone soup.

I eat the minestrone for super easy meals when I’m short on time or energy, but also as a small snack mid-afternoon. I am not a fan of dried fruit, nuts, seeds and other commonly known ‘healthy snack’ foods. I don’t find them filling or life-giving. But a bowl of soup is nourishing, nutrient-dense, and super satisfying. Weighing in at the same {or less, but who’s counting anyways??} caloric intake as a handful of those guys I mentioned above – so it’s kind of like a bonus meal.

No-recipe minestrone is super forgiving, and it gives you an opportunity to use up all the produce you have on hand that is on its way out. So get creative, use up what you’ve got laying around, and enjoy!

Minestrone Soup | @withfoodandlove

Minestrone Soup | @withfoodandlove

No-Recipe Minestrone Soup

Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Total Time 20 mins
Serves 6 bowls

Below are basic measurements for how to make minestrone without a recipe. I've made some notes to give you an idea of what substitution can be made to make this super versatile. For more inspiration, Food52 has a great video demonstrating the making minestrone soup without a recipe technique.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion
  • 4 stalks of celery
  • 4 carrots
  • 1/2 head of garlic
  • 2 potatoes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • handful herbs
  • 6 cups liquid
  • {1} 28 ounce can whole peeled tomatoes
  • 3 cups chopped greens
  • sea salt, to taste
  • black pepper, to taste


  1. In a large soup pot heat the olive oil over low heat. Add in the diced onion and sweat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn the heat up to medium, and add in the diced celery and carrots. Cook for an additional 5 minutes.
  2. Then add in the garlic, potatoes, bay leaf, herbs and liquid. With your hands break up the whole tomatoes over the pot, and add in. Pour in the remaining tomato juice from the can into the pot as well. Season with salt and pepper, and simmer for about 10 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.
  3. Lastly, add in the greens and simmer for 1 minute more. Serve hot, with a sprinkle of fresh parsley, a drizzle of olive oil and/or freshly ground pepper.

Recipe Notes

For onions: shallots, leeks, extra garlic
For celery: fennel, green cabbage
For carrots: corn, sweet potatoes, other root veg like turnips or radishes
For potatoes {or in addition to}: white beans, chickpeas, pasta, lentils, quinoa, hominy
Fresh herbs {any combination of}: thyme, rosemary, basil, parsley, oregano
For canned tomatoes: diced or pureed canned tomatoes, or 3 cups fresh chopped tomatoes
For greens: kale, chard, spinach, collards, etc.

The post is in partnership with Red Gold Farm; all opinions are my own.

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20 Responses to "No-Recipe Minestrone Soup + scenes from red gold farm!"

  1. Reply

    kathryn @ The Scratch Artist

    October 16, 2015 at 5:42 AM

    I love cooking by the seat of my pants, tasting and adjusting as I go. This is my favorite way to make soup. I think I’ve only followed a soup recipe once in my life. Thanks for sharing this delicious looking soup!

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:35 PM

      It’s kinda the only way I cook – which proves to be difficult when you’re writing recipes for a larger audience ;)

  2. Reply

    Brooke @ Chocolate + Marrow

    October 16, 2015 at 2:30 PM

    I don’t know which one I love more: this warm, hearty soup or that amazing photo of you, your birks, and all the tomatoes.

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      Gotta love birks + tomato fields in September :) !!!!!

  3. Reply

    Andrea LoTempio

    October 18, 2015 at 7:37 PM

    Hi Sherrie! You’ve got it!!! Love any type of veggie soup.

    I will pass on an old tradition that I used for years – horseradish! Yes – I have it in the refrigerator ready to use when I feel a dish needs a little zip. Hope to see you soon and we can table test it on a veggie dish for fun!

    Love you – :)

    Gram Lotempio

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:37 PM

      Sounds good Gram, xx!!

  4. Reply

    Sarah | Well and Full

    October 19, 2015 at 1:48 PM

    I love those beautiful lights up by the barn! That’s such a beautiful image. I wish I could transport myself there right now….

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:39 PM

      Me too Sarah, that night was pretty magical.

  5. Reply

    Pure Ella

    October 19, 2015 at 2:33 PM

    Sherrie, I love everything you do including this ‘recipe’ :)
    I cook like this too and then scratch my head to try and remember what’s on my plate or bowl :)
    Hugs. ella

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:39 PM

      You’re too kind Ella, all my love, xx!!

  6. Reply


    October 19, 2015 at 11:36 PM

    I can’t wait to make this soup! Also, I can’t stop my mouth from watering after looking at your gorgeous photos!

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:41 PM

      Awe thanks Kami + soup season is among us! Best time of year right?!

  7. Reply

    Liz @ Floating Kitchen

    October 22, 2015 at 6:49 AM

    I want to live in that tomato field. And that barn with the pretty lights. GAH! Both are gorgeous. Your soup is going on the to-make list this weekend!

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:41 PM

      THAT barn, I know, so dreamy.

  8. Reply


    October 22, 2015 at 11:10 AM

    I love making a big batch of vegetable soup on the weekend. Totally helps me get through the week knowing there is something tasty and healthy in the refrigerator. I have a big head of cabbage that needs use this weekend.

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:42 PM

      Me too. BEST time + money saver ever.

  9. Reply

    Susannah (Lemon and Coconut)

    October 27, 2015 at 8:03 AM

    What a sweet post, those photo’s are so fresh and real, like the lovely wholesome food. I love your writing and the whole thing :)

    • Reply


      October 27, 2015 at 8:43 PM

      Hi Susannah! Thanks so much for your kind words :)

  10. Reply

    danielle is rooting the sun

    October 28, 2015 at 11:29 PM

    hi sherrie! i’ve been following your blog for quite some time, but i have yet to reach out and tell you how enamored i am with your passionate cooking. your embrace of whole foods is a beautiful thing, as well as inspired. i love your approach to minestrone, as it is truly one of the most adaptable soups pending available produce – and its always such a warming delight. soup is one of my favorite meals, hands down. i love the no recipe approach, thank you sweetly for sharing. xo

    • Reply


      October 29, 2015 at 12:35 PM

      Hi Danielle! Your comment was such a lovely surprise. Thank you for taking the time to reach out, I really love hearing from the people who read my words and make my food. Soup is a serious staple in my life. It’s like the most nourishing food on the planet, right?? All my love to you, keep in touch! xo

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With Food + Love © 2018 | All photos + words belong to Sherrie Castellano -- they cannot be used or distributed without permission.