Giada De Laurentiis’ Quick Minestrone Soup Has a Secret ‘Essential’ Ingredient That Gives It Incredible Flavor

Giada De Laurentiis adds a small ingredient to soups that enhances the flavor. The Food Network star shared the secret while showing how to make her quick minestrone soup recipe.

Food Network host Giada De Laurentiis lifts the lid from a skillet during a 2016 Food Network event.
Giada De Laurentiis | Alexander Tamargo/Getty Images for SOBEWFF

Giada De Laurentiis’ winter minestrone soup is a hearty meal idea

De Laurentiis wrote about her winter minestrone soup recipe on the Giadzy website, calling it “comforting and nourishing.”

“Minestrone is a beloved Italian soup, and one of the most recognizable ones in the US,” she wrote. “It’s a thick, hearty stew with vegetables, and often with pasta or rice. In my version, I opt for heartiness from potatoes and cannellini beans! The step of blending up some of the beans with broth gives the soup a delicious, velvety texture.”

The Food Network host said there are two “secrets” that make a huge impact on the soup’s flavor. “There are a few secrets to amazing flavor in this soup,” the Food Network host noted. “A bit of pancetta at the beginning imparts a ton of great savory flavor to the entire dish. Additionally, the Parmigiano rind is essential! It gives the soup an irresistible umami element.”

She added, “I love to serve this with rustic, crusty bread to sop up the tasty broth. Overall, it’s an extremely comforting and nourishing dish with wonderful flavor.”

How to make Giada De Laurentiis’ minestrone soup recipe

De Laurentiis demonstrated how to make the easy soup on an episode of Everyday Italian. “Italians know how to make soup a meal and they even have a name for it — minestrone, which means ‘big soup,'” she explained. “Like a good marinara sauce, minestrone recipes are family secrets. And today, I’m sharing mine.”

De Laurentiis added, “Fresh vegetables, like swiss chard, pureed beans to make it thick, and smoky pancetta and potatoes to bring it all together. Winter minestrone chases the chill away.”

She heated a pot over medium-high heat and added olive oil, onion, garlic, carrots, and celery. “Carrots have a sweet taste to them,” the host noted. “They contain a lot of sugar which will help sweeten our base to our soup.”

De Laurentiis sprinkled on salt and added pancetta. “It’s the pork belly but it’s not smoked the way bacon is,” she explained. “It’s cured, but not smoked. But the flavors are very similar. So if you can’t find pancetta, bacon is a perfect alternative.”

She added, “Without pancetta, the soup would just be a regular vegetable soup. It wouldn’t have the depth and richness that the minestrone’s going to have.”

She thickens the soup with beans

De Laurentiis sautéed the vegetables and pancetta for 10 minutes, then added the Swiss chard, potato, salt, and pepper. She cooked everything for another 2 minutes, then added canned tomatoes and a rosemary sprig. She simmered the ingredients, covered, for 10 minutes.

The Food Network host blended drained cannellini beans with beef broth in a food processor until smooth, then added the mixture and remaining broth to the pot. “This is the binding agent,” she explained. “This is what really thickens the minestrone.”

“And now for my secret ingredient,” she teased. “This is a great way to use the rind of your parmesan cheese.” De Laurentiis dropped two rinds of parmesan cheese into the soup, sharing, “And it gives it this wonderful, cheesy, thick, salty taste to the soup.”

She added, “After the rind has released all its flavor, I take it out because I don’t like to eat it.” De Laurentiis removed the rind and rosemary branch and added the remaining beans to the pot before serving.

The full recipe is available on the Food Network website.

RELATED: Giada De Laurentiis’ Best Tips for Cooking Perfect Pasta Include Using 1 Ingredient She Calls ‘Gold’