I'm in love Olive Garden's minestrone soup. I'm not as big Italian food fan as my wife is. So she had to drag me there, kicking an screaming the first time. But they aren't afraid to season their food, like most restaurants. I like that. But what kept me coming back, was their minestrone soup. If it wasn't for that, then I wouldn't suggest to my wife of going there so often. <chagrin> We even bought gallons of minestrone soup to bring home from time to time. Now THAT is Pricey! But man, it was good! Well... I've got a recipe very close to theirs now, and is much cheaper to make. Pennies on the dollar cheaper, so now they wont get so much of our money. Don't be scared by amount of ingredients & herbs. It's easier than it looks. Here goes... My version of "like" Olive Garden's Minestrone Soup. 4 tablespoons Olive Oil 1 1/4 cups minced white, or yellow, Onion (about 2 small to medium onions) 1 to 1 1/2 cup chopped bite sized Zucchini ( 1 medium, or 2 small) Seeded with spoon, if needed. 3/4 to 1 cup, frozen, or fresh, bite sized cut Green Beans 1/3 cup minced Celery (about 1/2 stalk or so) 5 teaspoons minced garlic (about 5-6 cloves) 1 quart vegetable broth. Swanson boxed broth is good ( *Note: Do not use chicken or beef broth the first time!) 2 (15 ounce) cans Light Red Kidney Beans, drained and rinsed 2 (15 ounce) cans Cannelloni Beans, drained and rinsed. (I use yellow eyed beans, cooked at home. Very mild) 1 (15 ounce) can diced, or stewed, Tomatoes, drained 1/2 cup Carrot, (Julienned or shredded) I prefer shredding with vegetable peeler. 2 1/2 tablespoons minced fresh Parsley (if you have it) 2 teaspoons dried Oregano 2 teaspoons Salt 3/4 teaspoon fresh ground Black Pepper 1/2 teaspoon dried Basil 1/3 teaspoon dried Thyme 4 cups hot Water 5 cups fresh Baby Spinach 3/4 cup small Shell Pasta Directions: 1 Heat olive oil over medium heat in very large soup pot. 2 Saute onion, celery, garlic, green beans, and zucchini in the oil for 6-8 minutes or until onions begin to turn translucent. 3 Add vegetable broth to pot, plus drained tomatoes, drained beans, carrots, hot water, and spices. 4 Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to simmer for 30 minutes. 5 Add spinach leaves and pasta and cook for an additional 20 minutes. Makes about ten 1 1/2 cup servings. A bowl of this with a sandwich, make a great winter meal! And it is CHEAP! Easy to make, and taste wonderful! You don't have to be exact on ingredients, other than spices and herbs the first time. But try to stay close to recipe as you can. After that, you can adjust it to your personal liking. No set rules for minestrone. More tomato taste? Then don't drain them. You can use beef or chicken stock as well, but it won't be like Olive Gardens version. If you like Olive Gardens Minestrone Soup, you'll like this too. It's VERY close to it. *Note:1* I found that we liked it better the second day. The dried herbs were not cooked enough after just a few minutes of cooking. Tough, chewy flakes in our teeth. Tasted good, but annoying. Yep, anytime after the first day was best tasting. *Note:2* If eating soon after it is cooked, I would suggest either steeping dried herbs before starting, for 1/2 hour or so, or putting into the beginning saute of onions & veggies. But anyway you slice dice or cook, it will be better next day just like most soups. Time to meld. I told my wife I was going to something she would not believe. Follow a recipe. LOL And I did, except for using yellow eyed beans in place of great northern. I even measured out everything. A first for me. LOL Edited on 02/12/2015: Changed Great Northern Beans, to Cannelloni Beans. Great Northens, release too much starch and don't hold up well. Broth will be cloudy with great northern's, The Yellow beans worked great though.