Lentil Minestrone

Lentil Minestrone

Serves 4

Extra-virgin olive oil

2 large onions, diced small

2 garlic cloves, minced or put through a garlic press

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 small carrot, peeled and diced fine

1 small rib of celery, diced fine

1-1/2 cups lentils, rinsed

1 quart good-tasting vegetable broth

4 cups water

2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch dice

2 cups finely shredded cabbage (about ¼ of a head, or use packaged cabbage for cole slaw)

1 large tomato, cored and diced in half-inch pieces

½ cup small dried pasta shells, bowties, or dilatini

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

Salt and pepper

Heat a few tablespoons of oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion and sauté until it’s translucent, about 6 minutes.  Then add the carrot and celery and cook for about three more minutes.  Add the garlic and a little salt and pepper, sauté for another minute.  Stir in the tomato paste and cook until the red color darkens a little. Stir in half the vegetable stock and make sure the tomato paste is nicely dissolved.  Then add the rest of the stock, the four cups of water, and the lentils.  Bring everything to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes.

While the lentils are simmering, bring a quart of salted water to a boil.  Cook the pasta until it’s just done, then drain it and set it aside.

After you put the water on, heat a little more olive oil in a large skillet.  Add the zucchini with some salt and pepper, and sauté for a few minutes on high heat until it just starts to brown.  Add the tomato and cabbage and stir well.  Turn the heat to low and cover the pan.  Cook everything for 8-10 minutes, until the cabbage is just turning tender and the zucchini is pretty much broken down.

When the 30 minutes are up, add the drained pasta and the zucchini mixture to the pot with the lentils.  Stir in the mustard and vinegar, taste for salt and pepper, then serve.

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