Minestrone is traditionally made with pasta and beans, but we’ve used lentils here for a nutrition and texture boost to the classic vegetable stew. (They also keep this recipe gluten-free.) Lentils are small-but-mighty nutritional powerhouses: their off-the-chart levels of dietary fiber help stamp out hunger and control blood sugar swings, and they have the highest folate numbers of any plant-based food, which is a key vitamin for women of child-bearing ages. Many lentil soups are heavy and over-rich; this soup uses a vegetable base and lots of kale to keep it light but filling.
- 1 Tbsp. canola or grapeseed oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- Kosher salt and black pepper
- 2 medium carrots, chopped
- 2 celery stalks, sliced
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 Tbsp. tomato paste
- 2 tsp. Italian seasoning
- ½ tsp. red pepper flakes
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup uncooked black or green lentils
- 1 (14-oz.) can diced tomatoes
- 6 cups chopped kale leaves (about 6 bunches)
- 2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
- Chopped parsley, for garnish
Heat oil in large saucepan over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add onion and ½ teaspoon salt; cook until onion has softened but isn’t browning, about 5 minutes.
Add carrots, celery, and minced garlic to pan; cook, stirring, until very fragrant and beginning to soften, about 3 minutes.
Create a well in center of saucepan. Add tomato paste, Italian seasoning, ½ teaspoon black pepper, and red pepper flakes to the well, stirring the tomato paste and spices to combine. Cook in well, stirring occasionally, until tomato paste mixture begins to darken. Stir in surrounding vegetables.
Pour in 5 cups vegetable broth, and add lentils and tomatoes, stirring to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and cover. Simmer until lentils are tender but not mushy, about 30 minutes.
Stir in kale and balsamic vinegar; cook until kale has wilted, about 5 minutes. Garnish servings with chopped parsley.