Olive Garden's Prized Minestrone Soup Is Actually Vegan-Friendly

Olive Garden minestrone soup bowl
Olive Garden minestrone soup bowl - Olive Garden

When it comes to dining out, vegans often face challenges finding suitable items on many restaurant menus. Fortunately, Olive Garden offers a reasonable selection of vegan and vegetarian dishes, including the chain's beloved minestrone soup, marked by a 'V' on the menu. This hearty and delicious offering can make for a meal on its own thanks to filling ingredients like pasta, beans, and an assortment of vegetables surrounded by a tasty tomato-based broth. And since there are no animal-derived ingredients included in the recipe, this soup is perfect for vegan diners seeking a hearty dish.

Because there may be some confusion as to what constitutes vegan and vegetarian preparations, Olive Garden offers clarification via its website. Vegan fare is defined as being free of "animal meat, stock, gelatin, rennet, or ingredients derived from animals, including honey." The restaurant also encourages vegan diners to inform servers of their dietary needs, which ensures the kitchen will follow the proper procedures to avoid cross-contamination. These statements offer peace of mind to vegan diners in search of a tasty meal that fully meets their dietary requirements.

Read more: Canned Soups You Should And Shouldn't Buy

How Does Olive Garden's Version Compare With Traditional Minestrone?

bowl of minestrone soup
bowl of minestrone soup - Esseffe/Getty Images

While not all Olive Garden offerings are authentically Italian, minestrone soup is a proud product of Italy. The preparation, which translates to big soup in English, has been enjoyed in Italy since ancient times, and recipes vary quite a bit depending on where the soup is being prepared. Most minestrones contain pasta, olive oil, parmesan cheese, and a variety of vegetables, including garlic, tomatoes, celery, carrots, and onions. It's also customary to add beans, which boosts the heartiness of the recipe even further.

Some people substitute potatoes for pasta or add different vegetables according to seasonal availability. While meat isn't always included, some recipes do call for the inclusion of chicken broth, which enriches the flavor of soups. Some minestrone recipes will also directly incorporate meat, such as beef, into the dish. Olive Garden's version of the soup is in line with classic preparations, which should prove quite satisfying to lovers of genuine Italian recipes.

Other Vegan And Vegetarian Options At Olive Garden

Olive Garden breadsticks in bag
Olive Garden breadsticks in bag - Bloomberg/Getty Images

To ensure its customers can make smart decisions when dining at the establishment, Olive Garden provides a chart with information on the chain's vegan and vegetarian dishes. Along with specifying which dishes are vegan and which are vegetarian, the chart also includes information on whether dishes contain eggs or dairy products. Items free of animal products exist in numerous categories, including pasta, breadsticks, salads, entrees, and desserts. Along with minestrone soup, other vegan options include spaghetti with marinara sauce, fettuccine alfredo, and the chain's famous breadsticks.

Special consideration must be made for any fried foods enjoyed at Olive Garden, even if they're technically vegan or vegetarian. Per the chain, "Items cooked in our fryer present a special risk for cross-contamination with animal products," which is why these items are marked with a bullet point on the chart. Among the restaurant's current vegan and vegetarian offerings, only the warm Italian donuts pose a risk of cross-contamination. Fortunately, diners can enjoy other great desserts in their place, including tiramisu and Sicilian cheesecake. With more people choosing to adopt a plant-based diet these days, it's nice to know that Olive Garden offers a little something for everyone.

Read the original article on Daily Meal.