When it comes to dining out, vegans often struggle to find suitable dishes on many restaurants’ menus. Luckily, Olive Garden offers a reasonable selection of vegan and vegetarian options, including the chain’s beloved minestrone soup, marked with a “V” on the menu. This hearty and delicious offering can be a meal on its own thanks to nourishing ingredients like pasta, beans and an assortment of vegetables surrounded by a flavorful tomato-based broth. And since the recipe contains no animal ingredients, this soup is perfect for vegan diners looking for a hearty dish.
Because there can be some confusion about what constitutes vegan and vegetarian preparations, Olive Garden offers clarification via its website. Vegan fare is defined as being free of “animal meat, broth, gelatin, rennet or animal-derived ingredients, including honey.” The restaurant also encourages vegan diners to inform servers of their dietary needs, which ensures the kitchen will follow proper procedures to avoid cross-contamination. These statements provide peace of mind to vegan diners looking for a flavorful meal that fully meets their dietary needs.
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How does Olive Garden’s version compare to traditional minestrone?
While not all of Olive Garden’s offerings are authentically Italian, the minestrone soup is a proud Italian product. The preparation, which translates to big soup in English, has been enjoyed in Italy since ancient times, and recipes vary greatly depending on where the soup is prepared. Most minestrones contain pasta, olive oil, Parmesan cheese, and a variety of vegetables, including garlic, tomatoes, celery, carrots, and onions. It is also customary to add beans, which further enhances the comforting nature of the recipe.
Some people substitute potatoes for pasta or add different vegetables depending on seasonal availability. Although meat is not always included, some recipes 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 follows in the tradition of classic preparations, which should satisfy fans of real Italian recipes.
Other Vegan and Vegetarian Options at Olive Garden
To ensure its customers can make informed decisions when dining at the establishment, Olive Garden offers a table with information about the chain’s vegan and vegetarian options. In addition to specifying which dishes are vegan and which are vegetarian, the table also indicates whether the dishes contain eggs or dairy. Animal product-free items exist in many categories, including pastas, breadsticks, salads, entrees and desserts. Besides minestrone soup, other vegan options include spaghetti with marinara sauce, fettuccine Alfredo and the chain’s famous breadsticks.
Special consideration should be given to all fried foods enjoyed at Olive Garden, even if they are technically vegan or vegetarian. According to the chain, “items cooked in our fryer pose a particular risk of cross-contamination with animal products,” which is why these items are marked with a bullet on the board. Of the restaurant’s current vegan and vegetarian offerings, only the hot Italian donuts pose a cross-contamination risk. Luckily, diners can enjoy other great desserts at their seats, including tiramisu and Sicilian cheesecake. As more and more people choose to adopt a plant-based diet these days, it’s good to know that Olive Garden offers a little something for everyone.