How to Make Rao’s Minestrone Soup Recipe at Home

Rao’s is a celebrated Italian restaurant located in East Harlem, New York City. It was established more than one century ago and has been serving legendary homestyle Italian cooking to Hollywood celebrities, sports stars, and anyone who is anyone – from Woody Allen to Fran Drescher, etc.

Rao’s is a notoriously small corner restaurant, so getting a table any night of the week is quite challenging. Choosing to make Rao’s Minestrone Soup recipe takes some effort, but it may be the fastest way to warm your belly with this delicious and flavorful comfort food.

The Steps to Make Rao’s Minestrone Soup Recipe at Home

One of the hallmarks of classic Italian cuisine is the use of the best and freshest ingredients properly prepared. For Rao’s, this means they scratch-make their Minestrone soup daily. This delectable tomato-based soup offers a comforting vegetable and legume blend but requires some dicing and chopping – but well worth the effort.

  • Rao’s Minestrone Soup – Serves 6 – 8.
  • Prep Time – Approximately 25 minutes.
  • Cook Time – Approximately 1 – 1 ½ hours.

Recipe Ingredients For Rao’s Minestrone Soup

Rao’s Minestrone soup, when made with the ingredients shown below, is naturally vegan and gluten-free. This minestrone soup makes a delicious first course. If served as a main meal, serve this warm delight with a crusty loaf of French bread.

  • ⅓ Cup of Olive Oil – consider using fine-quality olive oil for this recipe.
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Onions – choose your favorite kind.
  • 1 Cup of Chopped Leeks.
  • 1 Teaspoon of Minced Fresh Thyme.
  • ¼ Cup of Minced Italian Parsley.
  • 2 Cups of Diced Potatoes.
  • 1 Cup of Diced Celery.
  • 2 Cups of Diced Carrots.
  • 1 Cup of Diced Zucchini.
  • 1 Cup of Fresh Fava Beans.
  • 1 Cup of Fresh or Frozen Peas.
  • 2 cups of Canned San Marzano Italian Plum Tomatoes – including their juices.
  • 1 Tablespoon of Double Concentrated Tomato Paste (the kind you can find in the tube) – this should be first dissolved in ¼ cup of warm water.
  • 4 Cups of Water.
  • 1 to 2 cups Cooked Cannellini or Kidney Beans – note that it is OK to use canned if you first rinse and drain them.
  • 2 Tablespoons Chopped Fresh Basil
  • Salt and Pepper to Taste.

Optional Ingredients for Rao’s Minestrone Soup

  • ¼ cup Freshly Grated Pecorino Romano Cheese – this cheese makes this recipe non-vegan.
  • Macaroni or Pasta – making Rao’s Minestrone Soup with pasta makes this recipe non-gluten-free.

Cooking Directions For Rao’s Minestrone Soup Recipe

Before you begin the actual cooking process, it is smart to prepare all the vegetables at once. While no one will be evaluating your knife skills, it is still important to chop or dice these vegetables to the same approximate size – mainly because you want all the ingredients to cook evenly and be finished at the same time.

As noted above, the prep or assembly time takes 25 minutes. This homestyle Minestrone from Rao’s will simmer for at least an hour, preferably 1.5 hours – to allow the flavors to slowly meld to create an authentic Minestrone soup.

  1. Heat 1/3 of a cup of olive oil in a large stock pot (at least 6 – 8 quarts) over medium to high heat. When the oil is heated, stir in the diced onions and leeks. Then, add the chopped parsley and thyme. Lower the heat to medium. Sauté this mixture for about 5 minutes. This is when the onions turn translucent and begin to brown on the edges.
  2. Add – one at a time the chopped potatoes, celery, zucchini, carrots, and fava beans. Sauté (stirring frequently) each added ingredient for approximately 3 minutes.
  3. When each of the vegetables is fully sauteed, it is time to add the tomatoes, the tomato paste(dissolved in water), and the 4 cups of water. Check the seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Bring this to a boil and lower the heat. Let this simmer, with a partial cover, for at least one hour and up to 1.5 hours. Stir the soup occasionally during this simmering time, as its consistency will become thick.
  5. Add the cannellini beans and peas to the soup. Mash the beans against the stock pot’s side using the back of a large spatula or wooden spoon.
  6. Then simmer the Minestrone soup for 5 more minutes.
  7. Remove the pot from the hot burner.
  8. Taste and correct the salt and pepper seasoning.
  9. Stir in the chopped basil.
  10. If you want to serve it with Pecorino Romano cheese, now is the time to add this non-vegan ingredient.

Additional Note:

You can boil up some of your favorite shape pasta, elbows, or bow ties and add some to the soup for a hearty carbohydrate boost. Time the pasta to finish cooking when the soup is done simmering. Before ladling the soup, fill the bottom of the bowl with the cooked pasta. Remember that this option takes away its natural, gluten-free status.

The Take-Away

Many consider Minestrone soup to be a bit labor-intensive (considering all the required chopping & dicing), but those who have enjoyed Rao’s Minestrone soup know it is completely worth the effort. In the end, this delicious recipe is quite healthy and an amazingly warm and satisfying dish for when the weather turns cold and the sun disappears way too early.

Can you use any type of potato when replicating Rao’s Minestrone Soup recipe?

It is best to use boiling potatoes, which vary in starch content when compared to baking potatoes – Russet or Yukon Gold.

Can you use canned tomatoes to make Rao’s Minestrone Soup?

Yes. The secret to using plum tomatoes that are canned is to remove the hard inner core and then crush the remaining Marzano tomatoes with your hands.

Is it possible to freeze Rao’s Minestrone Soup recipe?

Minestrone soup will keep well in the refrigerator for a few days and freezes better than a lot of other soups. But note that Rao’s Minestrone soup is at its best when served fresh from the stock pot.

What are the nutritional values of Rao’s Minestrone Soup?

A serving of this Minestrone soup with pasta is approximately 100 calories, which includes 3 grams of fiber and 3 grams of protein, with little fat and natural sugars.

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