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Bowl of minestrone soup
5 from 2 votes
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Slow Cooker Lentil Minestrone

This is a brothy lentil minestrone soup loaded with carrots, celery, onions, and fresh herbs.  Served over hot pasta and topped with parmesan and more fresh herbs.  

Course Dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine American, Italian
Keyword green lentils, lentil minestrone, vegetable minestrone
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 10 hours
Total Time 10 hours 20 minutes
Servings 6 servings
Calories 211 kcal
Author Janet Barton

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots peeled and chopped
  • 3 celery stalks sliced
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1/2 cup green lentils
  • 6 cups chicken stock or vegetable stock low sodium preferred
  • 1 28 oz canned or bottled tomatoes diced or hand squeeze whole tomatoes
  • 2 inch parmesan rind
  • 1-3 tsp salt depending on sodium level of stock and tomatoes
  • fresh pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 2 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 2 cups shell pasta, cooked can use macaroni
  • 2 cups kale chopped
  • fresh parsley chopped
  • fresh thyme
  • parmesan cheese shredded or sliced into ribbons

Instructions

  1. If using an instant pot, set to sauté and add olive oil, carrots, celery, and onion.   Saute until beginning to soften.  About 5-7 minutes.  

  2. Add lentils, stock, tomatoes, parmesan rind, salt, a few grinds of fresh pepper, bay leaf, 4 sprigs of thyme, and 2 sprigs of parsley.  Set slow cooker on low setting for 10 hours or high for 4-5 hours.  

  3. Before serving, cook pasta according to package directions.  Cook until al denté.  Drain and set aside for serving.  

  4. When lentils are soft remove parmesan cheese rind, parsley and, thyme sprigs.  Chop kale and add to minestrone along with fresh chopped parsley and thyme.  Season with additional salt and pepper, if needed.  

  5. Add reserved cooked pasta to individual serving bowls and ladle hot soup over top.  Top with fresh parmesan

  6. Leftover minestrone can be refrigerated for a few days.  Do NOT add the cooked pasta to leftover soup.  Store the pasta separately.  If pasta is added, it will soak up more of the liquid and creates a thick gooey soup.  

Recipe Notes

Notes from Janet:

What type of Lentils?

  • Green or brown lentils work best.  
  • My favorite lentils to use are French Green Lentils.  They do take longer to cook than regular green lentils.  It's best to soak them in water overnight or bring them to a boil, cover, and let sit for an hour.  
  • Regular green lentils cook quickly but can fall apart if overcooked in a pressure cooker.
  • Red or yellow lentils would NOT work well for this recipe.  They may become too soft.  They are great for Middle Eastern or Indian recipes.

 

Tips:

  • Stock or broth:  When choosing a stock or broth, check the label and purchase the brand that has the least amount of ingredients and the most natural ingredients.  I use homemade bone broth when I have a stash in my freezer.  
  • Tomatoes:  I like using whole tomatoes.  I think they are better quality than chopped.  I like using home canned tomatoes every more, but that's not always possible.  Buy the best quality whole tomatoes you can find.  Squeeze the tomatoes through your hands to crush or light pulse in a food processor or use a hand blender.  
  • Never add pasta to finished cooked soups.  The pasta absorbs a lot of the liquid and becomes thick and gummy.  It's always a good idea to add pasta to each individual bowl.  When storing leftover soup, store leftover pasta in a separate container.  This will keep the soup brothy and keep the pasta from becoming overcooked and mushy.  
  • For picky kale eaters: I use curly leaf kale and chop it very finely so it looks like parsley.  This seems to work with kids/husbands that are afraid of kale.  I go through a lot of "parsley" garnishing foods.  It's a mental thing but it works.
  • Vegetarian?  Vegan?  Gluten-free?  No problem.  Vegetarian/Vegan use a good quality vegetable stock. Vegan can omit parmesan cheese. Gluten-free may omit pasta or use a GF brand of pasta.

 

Nutrition Facts
Slow Cooker Lentil Minestrone
Amount Per Serving (1 serving)
Calories 211 Calories from Fat 45
% Daily Value*
Fat 5g8%
Saturated Fat 0g0%
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 1376mg57%
Potassium 458mg13%
Carbohydrates 33g11%
Fiber 7g28%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 8g16%
Vitamin A 7975IU160%
Vitamin C 33.2mg40%
Calcium 71mg7%
Iron 2.3mg13%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.