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  • Writer's picturedeborahreinhardt

One-Pot Minestrone with Meatballs

Loads of veggies, creamy cannellini beans, and tender meatballs star in this classic Italian minestrone that would make Nona proud.

Italian minestrone with potatoes, carrots, white beans, kale, and meatballs
One-Pot Minestrone with Meatballs

Do you sometimes find solace in the kitchen? I do, and I experienced it again this week. It had been a particularly heavy couple of days. Something drew me into the kitchen because I had the need to take control of something, I guess. Like if you do “X” then “Y” will be the outcome. Sometimes chopping vegetables or making stock from scratch are the only things that make sense to me. And what came of all of this was an outstanding batch of minestrone.


Every Italian grandma has her spin on minestrone, varying vegetables, beans, or pastas used. Minestrone is a hug in a bowl and a satisfying meal. Pair with crusty bread and I’m one happy woman.


A bowl of minestrone is less than 200 calories, so for hearty lunch or a light dinner option, this is the soup you want. The little meatballs in this recipe added some calories to that, but still great at about 330 calories. Hearty soups have a place in our diets if we're trying to eat "lighter." I love the versatility of this one-pot minestrone; clear out your produce drawer and there’s dinner! If you want to go vegetarian, simply omit the meatballs; the beans provide protein.


There’s nothing better than something delicious simmering on a stove, so let’s get cooking.

To make One-Pot Minestrone with Meatballs, which yields at least six servings, you’ll need these ingredients:

  • 2 ounces pancetta or 3 strips bacon, chopped

  • 2 carrots, chopped

  • 6 small new potatoes, quartered

  • 1 onion, chopped

  • 2 celery ribs, chopped

  • 3 whole garlic cloves, smashed

  • 12 ounces vegetable or chicken stock

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can tomatoes

  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

  • 1 bunch (about 10 to 12 stems) lacinato kale

  • 2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs

  • 2 dry bay leaves

  • 8 frozen meatballs, thawed and quartered

  • Olive oil

  • Salt and pepper

  • Parmesan cheese (garnish)

Cannellini beans in white bowl, Hazel Lam-Canva photo

Now, beans and I have a precarious relationship. There are beans I detest (lima beans) and some I enjoy eating. I think it's a texture thing for me. Cannellini are on the very short list of beans I will eat. If you have a can of these in your pantry, great. But you also could swap a can of great northern beans. Some folks think the cannellini have a slightly thicker skin and hold up better in soups. I think cannellini beans have better flavor, but your choice.

Starting with rendering bacon or pancetta, while desirable, isn't required. I didn't have either in the refrigerator last week, but did have some bacon fat, which I used to start the soup's mirepoix (carrots, celery, and onion).

Directions for One-Pot Minestrone with Meatballs

Bring a large stockpot up to medium-high heat and add chopped pancetta or bacon. Allow fat to render and meat to just turn crisp. Remove pancetta or bacon from pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on paper towel.


Add about a tablespoon (a swirl around the pot) of olive oil and add carrots, celery, onion, and a pinch of salt. Allow vegetables to soften and onions to turn translucent (about 5 minutes). Add dried Italian spice mixture and stir into vegetables. Cook another minute until herbs become fragrant.


Stir in stock, potatoes, tomatoes, cannellini beans, and smashed garlic cloves. Add bay leaves, stir, cover and turn heat down to simmer to cook 30 minutes.


Strip kale leaves from stalks and coarsely chop greens. Stir into soup. Add meatballs. Cover and cook another 15 to 20 minutes until the kale has wilted and meatballs are heated through.


Serve in bowls and top with shaved Parmesan.


Notes for your kitchen

If you want to make this a vegetarian dish, swap the chicken stock for vegetable stock. Omit the meatballs or use your favorite vegetarian meatball in the recipe. If going vegetarian meatball route, though, I’d recommend heating/cooking these separately and then place on top of the soup bowl. You don’t want them to melt away stewing in the soup.


Escarole is often used when making minestrone. I love this green, but my store didn’t have it this week. Cooking escarole in soup helps tame the slight bitterness; it’s mild and delicious in minestrone while still maintaining some of its integrity.


Minestrone often has pasta. Smaller shapes—ditalini, orecchiette, small shells—work best, but my pantry was void. You easily could leave out the potatoes if using pasta in this recipe.

Did you know?

Some of the earliest origins of minestrone soup pre-date the founding of Rome. The diet of these ancient people was heavy on vegetables out of necessity and included onions, cabbage, carrots, turnips, as well as lentils and beans.


About the blog

Three Women in the Kitchen is an award-winning food blog offering today’s home cooks comforting, hearty recipes with a personal touch. The website also pays tribute to Deborah’s mother, Katie Reinhardt, and paternal grandmother, Dorothy Reinhardt (the “three women” in the kitchen). Whether you’re an experienced or a novice cook, you’ll find inspiration here to feed your families and warm your heart. Subscribe today so you won’t miss a single delicious detail.

author sips coffee in photo that includes her bio

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