Minestrone for a Small Planet

A lovely vegan soup for a cold January day.

One pound green lentils, soaked overnight, drained and rinsed well
One large yellow onion, peeled and cut into large pieces
Two large carrots, scrubbed well and cut into thick slices
Five cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped
A bouquet garni cotton cloth bag containing one bay leaf and sprigs of parsley, oregano, and basil leaves
One pound whole grain pasta (brown rice or quinoa pasta for gluten-free eaters) cooked and drained according to the directions on the package.
Four heads of broccoli (about 5 or 6 inches across the heads), rinsed, cut into bite sized pieces, and steamed until fork tender. (Peel the stems before you cut them into cubes)
1 1/2 cups good quality marinara sauce
3 tablespoons of organic extra virgin olive oil

Place the lentils, onion, carrots, garlic and bouquet garni in a slow cooker (Rival Crock Pot, for example). Cover with pure water plus one inch. Turn the cooker on high until the soup boils, stirring occasionally so the lentils don’t stick to the bottom of the pot, then turn it to low and leave it on for eight hours (overnight) or until the lentils and vegetables are very tender. Remove the bouquet garni bag. In a large soup cauldron, gently blend all of the other ingredients with the lentils and vegetables.

What I like about this soup is that the broccoli is freshly steamed and the pasta is cooked al dente, rather than either being boiled to mushiness in the soup, and the olive oil has not been heated, other than by adding it to the soup at the end. The other thing I like about this recipe is that the lentils, having been soaked and rinsed, are much less likely to give you gas, even when combined with broccoli.

Each bowl of soup can be optionally enhanced according to the tastes of the person to whom it is served, with seasonings such as ground black pepper, hot sauce, Bragg’s Liquid Aminos, Himalayan pink salt, sea salt, flake-type nutritional yeast, or grated parmesan cheese.

I like to make extra and freeze it for a quick meal later in the month.

This soup could be lovely served with hot bread, a green salad, and/or an entrée, but, personally, I find one bowl is a whole meal for me.