Any-Vegetable Minestrone

What looked good at the market? Kale, squash? Great! Use them. Cabbage, chard? Great! Use those instead — or also. As long as the vegetables are good, the soup will be great. 

Hands-on time:
1 hour
Total time:
2 hours

Kitchen Gear

Cutting board
Sharp knife (adult needed)
Measuring cups
Measuring spoons
Large, heavy-bottomed pot with lid 


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 carrots, scrubbed and diced
2 celery stalks, diced, with a handful of celery leaves, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
4 cups diced or shredded vegetables (combination of potatoes, cabbage, chard, kale, spinach, squash, and parsnips
1⁄2 cup barley or brown rice (or 1–2 cups cooked, leftover grains or pasta)
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
4 cups water
2 cups cooked beans (garbanzo, pinto, black, red, or white) or one (15-ounce) can beans, drained
  Olive oil and freshly grated Parmesan cheese for garnishing


Wash your hands with soap and water, then gather all your equipment and ingredients and put them on a counter.

  1. Put the pot onto the stove and turn the heat to medium. When the pot is hot, add the oil.
  2. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook for about 10 to 15 minutes or until they are tender.
  3. Add the garlic and remaining vegetables and cook, stirring once, until tender, about 10 minutes.
  4. Add the barley or rice, broth, and water, then simmer the soup, covered, until all the vegetables are cooked and the barley or rice is tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. Add the beans (and the cooked grains or pasta, if you’re using them), simmer another 15 minutes, then carefully taste the soup. Does it need salt? Add a pinch if it does.
  6. Serve garnished with a teaspoonful of olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.

Use frozen corn and/or peas for some of the vegetables, and add them when you add the beans.

We think of celery leaves as a free bonus herb that comes with our bunch of celery! Chop them up and add them to whatever dish you’re using the celery in. They add tons of flavor.