Minestrone with Ham and Pesto

minestrone soup ready to serve in a white bowl with grated parmesan and pesto sauce

This fabulous minestrone with ham and pesto is a powerhouse of vegetables and smoky moist ham hock. Finished off with basil and cashew pesto and a good sprinkling of Parmesan,  it’s a winner!


Minestrone with ham and pesto soup can ring the changes with different vegetables. It’s a great soup to use up what’s in your veggie crisper. Think, cauliflower, carrots, leek, onion, zucchini, tomatoes, squash, pumpkin, onions, peas, tinned beans, cabbage, spinach, kale, corn ……..the list goes on.

ham hock for minestrone
ham hock cooked and ready for slicing

Just remember to add the vegetables in order of their softness for cooking.

Parmesan Rind

Adding the hard end of parmesan or grana cheese into your soup delivers a soft melting cheesy flavour to the minestrone. Remember to wrap these hard end pieces and throw them in the freezer to use for recipes like this.

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Making a meaty, smokey ham stock is the key to this soup. The second BIG KEY is adding pesto …… Basil and cashew pesto  and grated Parmesan or Grana Padano (parmesans younger cousin – and cheaper!) These two additions just bring the whole soup together. Please don’t skip these additions as they really bring a potent and delicious rounding flavour to the soup.


minestrone with ham and pesto soup after adding the pasta

Adding pasta to this wonderful soup adds a heartiness that completely puts it in the ‘comfort food’ zone. Lots of shapes work well. Just keep the pasta on the smallish side…..think, shells, orzo, elbows, macaroni.

Think about making this nutritious soup when you have friends around on cold, wintry days. Serve with some toasted crusty bread for dunking. Fire blazing, nourishing and warming, healthy, minestrone and ham hock soup is just the right way to add warmth and love to give your family and friends or try Pea and ham hock soup  for another fabulous hearty soup to share with family and friends. ingredients do you add to your minestrone? And have you ever added the Parmesan or grana rind to your minestrone?

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Minestrone with ham and pesto

  • Author: Recipe Winners
  • Prep Time: 20 minutes
  • Cook Time: 2 hours 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 40 minutes
  • Yield: 8


Ham hock stock

  • 2 pound(1 kilo) smoked pork hock on the bone
  • green top of leek chopped
  • 1 medium carrot chopped
  • 1 stick of celery chopped
  • teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 23 sprigs parsley


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • the white part of leek chopped
  • 2 sticks celery chopped
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • strained ham hock stock
  • salt – depending on how salty your hock is
  • 14 ounces (425 g) can chopped tomatoes
  • parmesan or grana rindoptional
  • a cup of chopped pumpkin
  • large carrot chopped
  • 1/2 cup greens beans cut into 1 1/2 inch (2 1/2 cm) pieces
  • 1 large zucchini cut into pieces
  • 3 yellow acorn squash cut into pieces
  • 14 ounce (400 g) can cannellini beans drained
  • 14 ounce (400 g) tin borlotti beans drained
  • 1 cup green cabbage thinly sliced
  • 2 cups dried shell pasta cooked
  • pesto and grated parmesan to serve



  • place all ingredients in a large pot and cover well with cold water
  • bring to boil, then simmer till meat is tender (around 2 hours)
  • you will probably need to top up water so that hock is completely immersed at all times – see note
  • remove hock from stock when tender
  • strain stock discarding vegetables
  • you should have around 6 pints (3 litres)
  • remove skin and bone and chop meat
  • refrigerate the meat until ready to add back to the soup


  • melt oil and butter in a large pot
  • place onion, leek, carrot and celery into pot sautéing for 5-6 minutes or until vegetables are softened but not browned
  • add the stock, around 6 pints (3 litres)  (if not enough top up with some water), tomatoes and parmesan rind
  •  bring to boil then reduce heat to medium adding pumpkin, carrot and green beans
  • cook for 5 minutes then add zucchini and squash
  • drain borlotti and cannellini beans and add to soup
  • return meat to soup along with the cabbage and cook for 2-3 minutes
  • add macaroni and heat for a minute
  • serve with pesto and grated parmesan – see note
  • enjoy!


  • pesto and parmesan are the crowning flavours to this soup
  • keep the water topped up whilst cooking the stock 
  • soup freezes well
  • Category: soup
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian


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