Packed with with zucchini, spinach, carrots, garlic and herbs, and served with tender lentil balls, this vegan summer vegetable minestrone is a tasty and nutritious soup. It can easily be made gluten-free by using any gluten-free pasta.
This summer vegetable minestrone is dead easy. Like in my chicken-less tofu noodle soup, the veggies and pasta all cook together in the same pot. If you’d like to make lentil balls to serve in the soup, they’ll require a couple more dishes.
What’s the difference between a summer vegetable minestrone and the regular kind? Technically nothing. The definition of minestrone is pretty loose, although you commonly see it made with tomatoes. Because I wanted to highlight the zucchini, spinach, and lemon flavors here, I didn’t add any this time.
It might not look like much but when you cut into a lentil ball and let its flavors melt into the soup, really exciting things happen to this summer minestrone. My better half has called it a top recipe of 2018, and it’s hard for me to disagree.
Minestrone is often already vegan, or trivially made so with some standard pantry swaps like veggie broth. I highly recommend unlocking umami powers by garnishing with some hemp parmesan or other vegan parmesan analogue. The lentil balls are also quite umami, so don’t be shy with adding them!
Vegan Summer Vegetable Minestrone
A fresh tasting minestrone soup, featuring summer vegetables but delicious any time of year. Vegan and easily made gluten-free with GF pasta. Serve with homemade lentil balls for a heartier meal.
- 1 and 1/2 tbsp olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 yellow or white onion diced
- 2 carrots peeled and diced or thinly sliced
- 1 stalk celery diced
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 bay leaves
- 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 4 oz elbow pasta (1 heaping cup) (or other pasta shape; gluten-free if needed)
- 2 medium zucchini halved or quartered and sliced
- 4 cups fresh baby spinach
- 1/4 cup freshly-squeezed lemon juice (about 1 lemon)
- 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 recipe lentil balls (optional accompaniment, see notes)
- hemp parmesan (optional, for serving)
Heat the olive oil in a stockpot. Add the garlic, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is starting to become tender, about 5-7 minutes. Add the thyme, pepper, chili flakes, and bay leaf, and cook until fragrant, about 60 seconds.
Stir in the vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Add the pasta, reduce the heat to a steady simmer and cook until the pasta is al dente (about 10-12 minutes, depending on the choice of pasta shape). Add the zucchini and simmer for another 2 minutes.
Stir in the spinach and lemon juice, and cook until the spinach is wilted, about 2 minutes more. Add the parsley and season with additional salt, pepper and lemon juice to taste. Serve hot.
LENTIL BALLS: If planning to serve lentil balls in the soup, I recommend adding 2 rice cakes or about 1/2 cup cooked rice to the walnut blender mixture for the lentil balls. This helps them to hold together a bit better for this particular usage of them.
If including the lentil balls, I recommend starting by getting the lentil balls in the oven, then proceeding with the soup, so that they're ready to serve at around the same time. As a bonus, you can do cleanup while the soup simmers and the lentil balls bake, so that there's not much left to do after dinner is served :).
NUTRITION FACTS: Nutrition facts include the soup only.
Adapted from Damn Delicious (non-vegan recipe).