I'm celebrating with soup -- a very satisfying garden veggie minestrone. My version is traditional in that it contains pasta. But it's also loaded with other good things such as green lentils, chickpeas, summer veggies, dried herbs and spices. I actually think it's the combination of all these ingredients that make this soup so darn good. And like many recipes I share with you, this soup is not complete without a few toppings. Simple additions like a drizzle of olive oil, splash of Sherry vinegar, and grating of Parmesan cheese (regular or vegan - see recipe below) make all the difference here.
Soup, like today's minestrone, is my go-to meal strategy no matter the kitchen conundrum or time of year. I keep seasonally-appropriate soup recipes on hand because I've found soup to be the most accessible solution for just about any food dilemma.
- Need dinner on the table ASAP? Soup.
- Want to cook once and eat many times? Soup.
- Need to use up random leftovers? Soup.
- Gotta stretch a meal for a big group? Soup.
- Little appetite, but want nourishment? Soup.
- Coming in from the cold? Soup.
- Sick? Soup.
- Don't know what to cook? Soup.
- Don't feel like cooking? Soup!
Soup is the holy grail of meal formats. It streamlines the planning, preparation, eating, and clean-up process, efficiently transforming any number of ingredients and flavors into a cohesive, substantial one-pot meal.
That's why I wouldn't think to go without it even in the warm months. We can't get enough of this minestrone, and I hope it serves you well this summer too!
Lentil Minestrone with Zucchini & Peas
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tsp. dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
- 1 tsp. oregano
- 1 tsp. red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp. dried dill
- 3/4 cup green lentils, soaked 6-8 hours, rinsed & drained
- 5 1/2 cups (1.3 L) water
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced into half moons
- 1/2 cup (70 gr) frozen peas
- 4 Roma tomatoes, quartered
- 1 15-oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 250 gr. short-cut pasta of choice, cooked
- Toppings: extra-virgin olive oil, Sherry vinegar, fresh dill (optional), shards or grating of Parmesan or vegan parm crumble
- Heat a large soup pot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add olive oil, onion, garlic and spices (thyme through dill). Add a pinch of salt and black pepper and sauté until onions begin to soften and spices are fragrant (3-5 minutes).
- Stir in lentils, then add water and salt. Cover, raise heat to high, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Cook covered for 10 minutes, or until lentils are almost al dente. (If you did not soak lentils, this will take 20 minutes or more).
- Stir in zucchini, peas, tomatoes, and chickpeas. Cover and cook 5 more minutes, or until zucchini is crisp tender and lentils are al dente.
- In the meantime, cook pasta 1-2 minutes shy of package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse.
- Divide pasta evenly between four bowls and ladle soup on top. Finish bowls with a drizzle of olive oil, splash of sherry vinegar, torn or roughly chopped dill, and Parmesan of choice.