👨‍🍳 Daddy in the Kitchen: Leftish Meat-Free Minestrone

stormtrooper spoons today cooking kitchen

I play right into the stereotype.

All this burger-pizza-taco talk gives a boy a reputation. There are worse reps, yes. Like, kale-edamame-tofu. Blech. But even we hardcore enchilada chompers veer off script.

It’s like Metallica doing a cover of The Carpenters – strange, but you can’t look away.

Recently, I wiped the graham cracker crumbs off my shirt and made minestrone. That’s a soup, for all you less-refined. I guess you can call it minestrone soup.

But that’s kind of like going to the ATM machine – or making fun of lame dodgers fans. #DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment

The book Top Secret Restaurant Recipes 2 inspired this recipe, but I didn’t copy it. Even if I did, the book is SECRET recipes. I’m pretty sure they pissed off Olive Garden first.

minestrone done

Coach Daddy’s Leftist Meat-Free Minestrone

For Meatless Monday (or, Meatless Minute, in our house), this is a fine choice. This recipe yields about eight 1 ½-cup servings for liberals to share amongst themselves. Or about 5 servings for hungry Republicans.

What you’ll need:


3 tablespoons olive oil 1 145-oz can diced tomatoes 🍅 
1 cup minced onion  1/2 cup shredded carrot 🥕 
1/2 cup chopped zucchini 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
1/2 cup frozen green beans 1 1/2 teaspoons salt 🧂 
1/4 cup minced celery 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
4 teaspoons minced garlic 3 cups hot water
4 cups vegetable broth 4 cups baby spinach (fresh or thawed)
2 15-oz cans of red kidney beans, drained 1/2 cup seashell pasta 
2 15-oz cans Great Northern beans


What you’ll do:

In a large saucepan, saute celery, garlic, green beans, onion, zucchini in olive oil for 5 minutes. *Don’t go full time if onions are starting to be see-through Add broth, carrot, drained beans, tomatoes, spices, and hot water. 

Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, simmer for 20 minutes. Add pasta and spinach. Cook for 20 more minutes or until soup is as thick as you want

The verdict

The family killed this one quick. I didn’t include bay leaves. 🍃 I’m sure they add flavor but it feels like hedge clippings in my soup bowl.

It was a hit. 1 1/2 F words out of 5 on the Dammit this is Hard Scale. A little bit of pesto, Italian bread and wine and you’re in business. You can make tacos tomorrow.


cather quote soup


  1. Cristina says:

    Looks good Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Cris – it was delicious!

  2. ksbeth says:

    nice for each of us to step out of our comfort zone now and then. it sounds wonderful !

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      It was a delicious step, Beth. I might have to make some again!

  3. Eli, you do it all! Looks great!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Carrie, I *try* it all. The fails become even better stories!

  4. Kathy G says:

    Leftish Meat-Free Minestrone? Yes, please! It looks delicious.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      You like, Kathy? Grab you a bowl. It was scrumptious.

  5. Oh wow this is my favorite soup to eat at Olive Garden. I’ve been eating more veggies and less meat. This looks wonderful…fellow lefty friend 🙂

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I’ve never had it at Olive Garden! More veggies is fine if it’s like this. We lefties must stick together. At least we can sit next to each other and eat soup and not knock elbows.

      1. Alex is left handed too, so we could all 3 sit side by side that would be rare for us. We are the only lefties in the family. Kinda cool. 😀 Yesterday, I ate this soup for lunch, inspired by you of course. 😀

      2. Eli Pacheco says:

        Now that’s a sight! My sister and I are the only ones in ours. Yes, kinda cool. You had minestrone yesterday?

      3. Yes, I did. Olive Garden! There’s a new one going in close to our house!!! I’m sure we will be their frequent customers!!! 😂😂😂

      4. Eli Pacheco says:

        Awesome. I should have a taste test with them!

      5. I highly recommend it! 😉

  6. Charlotte says:

    OMG!!!! YOU DID NOT JUST SAY #DepartmentOfRedundancyDepartment!!! I LOVE THAT! My bestie and I say this to each other all the time when one of us says something that is redundant and we’ve even said we’re going to have to have shirts made.

    Also I love minestrone. Your recipe looks amazing. Also I always take the bay leaves out after they’ve done their duty to my recipes, because I didn’t know anyone actually ate them, LOL. Thanks for sharing this–also (oddly) I’ve never cooked with Great Northern Beans. What’s their story, and why do they have such a distinguished title?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I most certainly did say that certainly, Charlotte! haha. i want a shirt when you get them! I feel like if I’m eating something with a bay leaf and I start reading your blog and I’m not paying attention I might just have it all go down the hatch and that’s no good.

      My kids would say (or would say, circa 2018) that Great Northern Beans are just regular beans from the north that think they’re ‘extra.’

  7. Yum. I will wait til fall to try this. I have made it a few times before but my kiddies didn’t care for the cooked veggies in it 😛 I love a good Minestrone. Good job, Eli ❤

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Right? It’s a much better fall idea, Lisa. For now, I’ll “settle” for barbecue stuff. In a soup or on pizza – that’s my best bet to eat a veggie!

  8. Beth says:

    Oh em yum! I love minestrone! I don’t think we’ve ever tried making it at home! I am not much of a cook, but I can follow a recipe, so I bet even I could make this! Thanks for sharing Eli!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Looks delicious, doesn’t it Beth? It might have been the first minestrone I’d ever had. I haven’t even made very many soups, unless you count chips and queso.

      This one is easy because you pretty much dump it all in a pot and call yourself a chef. I can live with that.

  9. Sara Strand says:

    1. I have this cookbook. I don’t know why because I never have any intention of making anything because I hate cooking.
    2. Also, I am the PICKIEST eater ever. My toddlers will eat more than I do. I have a weird texture issue, smell issue, just all kinds. It’s really the worst so I basically eat like a 20 something frat boy who saves dinner time for bars. Even still, I’m forever picking things off. Ha!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      1. This cookbook could make a great table-evener if your kitchen table is wobbly. (I do love a lot of stuff inside, though.)

      2. You should write about your eating habits! I love all the textures, especially if they’re cheese. Or cookies.

  10. Sometimes there’s nothing in the world so satisfying as soup, and this is my kind of soup. Yum.

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      I used to think that you could say the same thing for graham crackers, Mimi. But I do like this soup.

  11. Sue says:

    Yummy! That minestrone looks delish and healthy! We’re making tacos tonight after watching the Taco Chronicles on Netflix! A must see if you haven’t already binge watched the show!

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Thanks, Sue. Yes, a good healthy alternative. I haven’t seen Taco Chronicles but you know it’s going on my watch list!

      Let me know how your tacos turn out.

  12. Lorna says:

    My husband is trying to go vegetarian. I hope not very far. Thanks for your email, Eli. Where do I send my 6 word story?

    1. Eli Pacheco says:

      Hi Lorna! You can send it to: elipacheco.ejp@gmail.com. Thanks!

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