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Spring has sprung! It was a beautiful weekend.  The sun was out and temperatures climbed into the double digits (celsius).  On Friday, I went to the thrift store and bought a bunch of jewelry that I upcycled into a cool new necklace. Then I took Minda and Kaya to the farmer’s market where we had lunch, danced to an old street musician playing the guitar, and stocked up on some beutiful organic local produce like purple carrots and blue and pink potatoes.  The warmer weather must also be giving me the gardening bug because I even bought a couple of potted herbs.

My upcycled necklace made from thrift store finds

Saturday we went for our first walk in our new double seater Chariot to the playground, which is officially snow free now.

First walk with the double Chariot

To end the weekend I went to open house at Yoga Santosha for a long overdue and much needed yoga class.  I also made a big batch of parmesan garlic bread sticks (think Olive Garden but whole wheat) to go with the eggplant parmesan that I cooked for dinner last night (so delicious, another post for another day).  A pretty great weekend I would say!

I still have a bunch of bread sticks left over, and would really hate to see them get stale, and I immediately knew exactly what to cook for dinner tonight that would be the perfect accompaniment.  Minestrone Soup! 

I wanted to come up with a recipe that uses the ingredients I already have on hand because I really did not want to make a grocery run today.  I didn’t have any kidney beans, which is what I usually find in minestrone that I get at restaurants, but I did have some lentils, so that would have to do.  

Have I mentioned how much I love lentils?! Dried lentils are one of my pantry staples.  They have all of the nutritional goodness of beans, but they don’t require any of the soaking time, perfect for someone like me who likes to cook things on a whim.  I also threw in a bunch of kale into the pot to make it extra nutritious, a perfect way to start the week!

Lentil Minestrone Soup

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 small yellow onion, diced

3 medium carrots, sliced

2 stalks celery, sliced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 dried bay leaf

1 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped

1 tablespoons fresh rosemary, finely chopped

½ tablespoon fresh oregano, finely chopped

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

1 teaspoon crushed red pepper

5 cups water

1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, undrained 

1 cup green lentils

 1 bunch kale, removed from stems and coarsely chopped

1 cup cooked whole wheat pasta (4 ounces dried pasta. It is impotant to cook it first or your soup will be a starchy mess!)

sea salt & fresh cracked black pepper, to taste

Pecorino Romano and bread for serving

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil, add the carrots, celery,  and onion.  Cook stirring occasionally until the onions are soft, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic, herbs and crushed red pepper, cook stirring constantly for one more minute.  Add the water, diced tomatoes, and lentils.  Bring to a boil then reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer for 40 minutes.  Add the kale and pasta, cover and let simmer about 5 more minutes until the kale is wilted and the pasta is heated through.  Remove the bay leaf and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Serve with some fresh grated hard cheese if you like (I used pecorino romano) and plenty of warm bread.

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