Start by sautéing onion, garlic, shredded carrots, and celery, and a pinch of salt in olive oil over low to medium heat. Sauté for about 8-10 minutes or until onion dices are soft and clear - avoid browning.
Next, add two cups of whatever fresh veggies you are using (yellow squash and chopped green beans pictured above but potatoes, zuchini, and other veggies are also good options) and continue sautéing for another 5-7 minutes or until added veggies are just barely softened (it's nice to retain some texture here).
Now add canned diced tomatoes, pasta sauce, seasonings, white navy beans (rinsed and drained) and vegetable broth. Increase heat, bringing mixture to a boil. Once a boil is reached, add pasta, then reduce heat to simmer for 15 minutes with lid partly on.
(Pasta may not be fully cooked at the end of 15 minutes, but it will continue to cook and swell as long as the soup remains warm, so it is best not to completely cook. If needing to serve immediately, simmer soup a couple of minutes longer or until pasta is 'al dente'.)
Stir in spinach just after removing from heat, allowing it to wilt before serving. Add fresh lemon juice, and serve with a garnish of vegan parmesan cheese!
Tips for making this Vegan Minestrone Soup ahead of time:
If you are making this soup ahead, you may want to cook your pasta separately (according to al dente directions), and then add it to the minestrone either after the soup has cooled or just before serving. This keep the pasta from swelling/softening too much during the re-warming process. Starting with a small size pasta such as mini shells or ditalini also keeps the pasta from overwhelming the soup!
Excellent Pasta sauce really is a key ingredient in the amazing base of this soup! I especially like to use authentic Italian style sauces with no added sugar and simple ingredients! Truly sumptuous results!A good quality vegetable broth also makes ALL the difference. I highly recommend either Better than Bouillon Vegetable Base (found in many grocery stores) or McKay’s Vegan Chicken Seasoning.Topping this soup with Vegan Parmesan Cheese is the perfect finish! In the pictures here, I used the Follow Your Heart Vegan Parmesan, which I enjoy. I also really love this simple homemade vegan parmesan!