I love fall. Where I live, it is still clear and warm during the day but the air gets a definite bite at night. When the evenings get cool, my thoughts turn from salads to warm food. I want things that cook on the stove top for extended periods of time, food that roasts in the oven, perfuming the air with the scent of good flavors.
I have been intending to make Lentil Minestrone for weeks. I got a dutch oven for my birthday last month and I have wanted to try it out but soup just wasn’t meant to be until today. I stumbled onto the recipe while looking up something entirely different. The soup makes good use of pantry items and staple veggies. The only problem I had is that the dutch oven I got turned out to be a bit small for this particular soup recipe. I have a three and a half quart dutch oven. This recipe makes more like four or five quarts of soup. The soup should have been brothier than it turned out, but I was determined to use my new pot so I used much less vegetable stock than called for. I enjoy a thick lentil soup anyway. I also traded out some of the herbs and flavorings called for in the original recipe with items I already had. The herbs seemed a little more French inspired so I went with Italian herbs instead. It was a good choice. Redolent with parsley, rosemary and fresh bay leaves, this soup was delicious!
Adapted from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison
2 tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
¼ cup chopped parsley
4 large garlic cloves
3 carrots, diced
1 cup celery, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1 cup French lentils, rinsed
3 fresh bay leaves (or 2 dried)
8 branches parsley
2 branches fresh rosemary
6 cups vegetable broth
Soy sauce to taste
1 bunch chard, washed thoroughly and chopped
1 cup dry pennete (or any small pasta of your choice)
Optional toppings: drizzle of olive oil, shredded parmesan
Heat the oil over medium heat in a dutch oven. Add onions and saute for ten minutes until lightly caramelized. Add tomato paste, chopped parsley, garlic, carrots, celery, salt and pepper. Cook for another three minutes. Add lentils, bay leaves, parsley branches, rosemary branches and vegetable broth. Bring to a simmer and cook thirty minutes. Meanwhile, boil water for pasta in a small pot. Boil water for chard in a large pot. Boil pasta according to package directions until al dente, drain and set aside. Cook chard for three to five minutes, drain and set aside. When the soup has cooked for thirty minutes, season the soup with soy sauce to taste. Remove the parsley branches, rosemary branches and bay leaves. Stir in the cooked pasta and chard right before serving. If you would like, serve with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of Parmesan. The soup is wonderful without these condiments.