Monday, 16 September 2013

Meatless Monday: Lentil Minestrone

Minestrone [min-uh-stroh-nee; Italian mee-ne-straw-ne] is a popular Italian soup which I seem to have a pronunciation problem with. It's a thick tomato-based soup containing pasta or rice, beans and vegetables. I am quite a big fan of soups. They're easy, refreshing, healthy and there are infinite possibilities with regard to variety of soups. Minestrone is very flavourful, and whatever vegetables, beans and herbs are available, they work well for a minestrone.
Lentils are among my favourite legumes; with these mini rotelle (wheel pasta) and the bag of lentils in my pantry, I had to make a minestrone. I like minestrone because it isn't dull at all. Many soups tend to be boring depending on how flavourful it is, or even how it is prepared. Minestrone however, with the addition of a little balsamic vinegar and hot sauce, is phenomenal.
There is no set recipe for a traditional minestrone, none that I can find, at least. That means that by maintaining the basic foundation of a minestrone, it's easy to tweak to your liking.

Lentil Minestrone
  • 3 C. (low-sodium) Vegetable Stock
  • 2 C. Water
  • 1/2 C. Dried Lentils
  • 1 Small Potato
  • 1 Stalk Celery
  • 1 Carrot
  • 1 Leek/Onion
  • 1 C. Tomato Sauce/Puree (unsalted)
  • Handful Cherry Tomatoes
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • Thyme
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. Sriracha
  1. Add stock and water to a soup pan and bring to a boil.
  2. Add lentils and cook until almost softened. Wash and chop vegetables into pieces almost the same size as the pasta being used.
  3. Add bay leaf, thyme and cubed potato and continue cooking for another few minutes until the potatoes are no longer raw.
  4. Add celery, carrots, leek/onion, pasta and tomato sauce. Taste before adding salt or pepper since stock is often salted enough. 
  5. Continue cooking until the pasta is al dente, add sriracha and balsamic vinegar, and cook for a minute more. Remove from heat, remove bay leaf and thyme stems, and serve hot with a bit of parmesan if desired.

Minestrone is often boiled down until the contents are extremely soft, but I like a bit of crunch to my vegetables so I don't overcook them.

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