Italian Lentil Soup

I think everyone must have their own set of things that make them ridiculously happy. As in, ridiculous to be so happy about things so small and insignificant. My own set of things include clean sheets, a new toothbrush, and leftover soup for lunch. I ladle the soup into the pot, turn the stove on, put Charlie down for his mid-day nap, and then revel in what feels like pure luxury: hot soup for lunch.

This soup in particular has become a staple meal at our table. It barely requires effort, tastes comforting, and begs a second helping. Oh, and it's pretty inexpensive. 

Ingredients

  • Olive oil
  • 1 small yellow Onion, diced
  • 3 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp Red pepper flakes
  • 1 jar or can of Diced Tomatoes (this is the kind I use and love)
  • 3 cans of Lentils (this is the kind I use and love) 
  • 1/2 tsp of Italian Seasoning
  • 1 Bay Leaf
  • 3-4 cups vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • 1 tsp Kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

Recipe Notes
 

Ideally this soup would be served with bread and maybe even with orzo pasta mixed in at the end of the cooking time. I'm eating gluten-free right now, so feel free to compensate by eating extra bread for me. I think that a little Italian sausage would be wonderful in this soup but I've yet to try it.

Directions
 

Heat the olive oil over medium in a large soup pot. Sauté the onion until soft, then add the garlic and the red pepper flakes, being careful not to let the garlic burn. Stir around for a couple of minutes. Add the diced tomatoes, stir and let simmer while you open and rinse your cans of lentils. Add lentils, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, and vegetable broth to pot. Bring to a low boil while uncovered, then reduce heat to a low simmer. Cover and cook for 1-2 hours. Towards the end of the cooking time, stir in salt. Serve with parmesan on top of each bowl, and hopefully with a side of bread. Maybe even a glass of wine. And enjoy! 

Italian Minestrone Soup

This recipe for minestrone soup has a somewhat funny origin. Years ago, my oldest sister had a school assignment to study a country and then cook a meal from that country's cuisine. She picked Italy and made this Italian Minestrone Soup. The soup recipe has evolved a little bit since then but I always smile and think of her when I make it.

minestrone soup

As most soups go, this recipe is pretty versatile. I often make it without noodles, especially when serving it with bread, just to lighten things up a bit. You can put in just about any bean you'd like (I've used chickpeas before) but I've decided that I like it best with cannellini beans. 

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 large or 2 small zucchini, sliced into one-inch pieces
  • 1 large carrot, sliced into thin rounds
  • 2 stalks of celery, sliced small
  • 1 can of cannellini beans (also known as white kidney beans), drained
    (in the picture above, you can see that I also used red kidney beans, but I've since then decided that I prefer this soup without them)
  • 1 jar of diced tomatoes
  • 6-8 cups of vegetable broth
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 teaspoon of italian seasoning
  • 3 tablespoons of butter (omit to make this soup vegan)
  • 1 teaspoons of salt
  • to serve: black pepper, parmesan cheese, bread, and wine

Directions

Heat the olive oil in a large pot, over medium heat. Sauté the onion until soft, then add the garlic, being careful not to let it burn. Add the zucchini, carrot, and celery. Then add the rest of the ingredients. I always find that I like this soup with more broth, so I lean towards adding 8 cups. Bring the soup to a boil, then reduce to medium-low heat and let simmer for at least one hour. Serve with the best bread you can find and a generous grating of parmesan.