Lentils add a hearty note to a minestrone soup made with zucchini and kale. A combination of both dried and canned tomatoes gives the broth complex tomato flavor without any additional salt or spices. Quinoa is recommended as a gluten-free alternative to pasta. For extra oomph, swirl some Basil Pesto into each bowl at the table.

By Carla Christian, RD, LD,


  • 1 small onion, chopped (1 cup)
  • ¾ cup dry brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 carrot, chopped (½ cup)
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped (½ cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil, crushed
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano, crushed
  • 1 large zucchini, chopped (1¼ cups)
  • 4 ounces uncooked whole-grain elbow macaroni or quinoa
  • ½ cup sun-dried tomatoes (not packed in oil), thinly sliced
  • 4 cups torn fresh kale
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ teaspoon sea salt


  • In a 4-quart Dutch oven or soup pot, combine the onion, lentils, carrot, celery, garlic, stock, basil, and oregano. Add 1½ cups water. Bring to a boil over high heat; reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
  • Stir in the zucchini, macaroni (or quinoa), and sun-dried tomatoes. Simmer, uncovered, for 3 minutes. Stir in the kale, crushed tomatoes, and salt. Simmer, uncovered, until the macaroni (or quinoa) is cooked, checking package instructions for cook time.

Comments (58)

(5 from 23 votes)

Recipe Rating

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Christian Hansen

Take it from me I have made this several times: don’t put the macaroni in when it says. You want to cook it down longer than the recipe and if you add the macaroni that early, it will be overcooked and your veggies undercooked. Add the macaroni in the last 10 minutes.


What do you do with the 4 cups of broth?

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Cynthia, The broth is added in step 1. It's listed as "stock." Thanks!

Juice Plus MD

Made this in my Instant Pot. So delicious and easy! Thanks for the great recipe!


This is an incredible recipe, thank you. Do you by chance, have the amount of carbs and fiber for the soup recipe? My granddaughter needs these numbers to calculate meals for her type 1 diabetes

Lisa, Forks Over Knives Support

Hi Pia, Thank you for your feedback! We are currently working on adding nutritional information to all our recipes and anticipate for this feature to be live on the website in coming months. Please stay tuned for updates!


Delicious! I used quinoa instead of pasta and collard greens on place of the kale. Great soup to make in the summer when all the veggies are garden fresh. I did add more water- probably 2 cups for a thinner consistency since the quinoa soaked up much of the liquid.


This soup is a keeper. Now I our weekly rotation. Easy to put together. Tastes fabulous. Thanks for the recipe!

Christian E Hansen

My wife will not join me in my quest to reduce meat and other animal products in my diet - she is a committed carnivore. But she loves this soup! Made a bunch and froze several meals and now we're out, time to make a bigger batch next time.


This is the best soup. Every time I make it, people ask for the recipe. So healthy & filling (esp when paired with some good grain bread). I use the macaroni instead of quinoa as it gives it a little more substance. Leftovers taste even better!


Do you have nutritional ingredients and values for your recipes? I count macros and need this information to plan my meals to reach targeted macros

Courtney Davison

Hi Anne, We don't currently publish nutritional information for our recipes, but we're looking to do so for the future. Please stay tuned. Thank you, Courtney Editor, Forks Over Knives

Cloudy Rockwell

OMG, so good! I can't believe how quick it comes together and how delicious it is. My new favorite minestrone recipe! My meat-eating husband liked a lot, too.


My WHOLE picky family loves this recipe!!! Delicious! I omitted salt, as it really doesn't need it.


Excellent! This was so good. Easy to make and I can tell it would be easy to swap out certain ingredients for others making it very versatile to use what you have on hand. This recipe is definitely ‘a keeper’ and will be in my regular rotation of meal recipes.


Is it okay to use water in place of the vegetable stock?

Megan Edwards

Hi Lorna, Definitely! You may want to add a pinch more salt and pepper at the end to make up for the flavor you would've received from the broth, but water will work perfectly here. Let us know how it goes!

Carrol Lindsay

I was super happy to see this soup recipe this morning. My body is crying out for lentils and more. Thanks for posting this recipe my pot of soup will be ready for lunch.

Beryl Redfield

Do you need to add the 1.5 cups of water?

Courtney Davison

Hi, Beryl, Yes, the water should be added in Step 1 with the onion, lentils, carrot, celery, garlic, stock, basil, and oregano. Thank you, Courtney editor, Forks Over Knives

Catherine Herron

So this recipe calls for four cups of vegetable stock AND 1.5 cups of water - both of which go in the pot in Step 1. Correct? (It’s confusing that the vegetable stock is listed in the Ingredients, but the water is not).

Cloudy Rockwell

Yes, I added the 1.5 c. water, and then I added a lot more! My husband likes his soups more liquidy, so I added even more water to the leftovers, since quinoa makes it kind of a matrix. I suppose if you used macaroni, you might not need as much water.

Mindy B

Delicious and easy to make. I highly recommend adding the pesto when serving. It really elevates the dish!

Dana oneal

Have not made yet but are the lentils pre cooked or no , last time I made lentils it seemed to have taken long time to cook an they was still somewhat hard in middle

Courtney Davison

Hi Dana, The lentils are not pre-cooked. We recommend testing them after 30 minutes and cooking them a bit longer if they're not tender; brown lentils can take as little as 25 minutes or as much as 40 minutes to cook. Learn more lentil tips here: https://www.forksoverknives.com/how-tos/ingredient-iq-lentils-how-cook-different-types/ Thanks! Courtney Editor, Forks Over Knives


Kale substitute?


Anything green -- chard, cabbage (especially Savoy), spinach, bok choy, mizuna, Brussels sprouts, mustard greens. Some would require slicing or shredding, others not.

Cloudy Rockwell

I always substitute frozen chopped spinach for kale (not a fan of kale). It's so easy to just sprinkle it in.


When do you add the canned tomatoes?


Renee, you add the crushed tomatoes in step #2 when you add the kale.


What an easy, healthy and delicious recipe. Other than omitting celery, as I didn’t have any, I followed it exactly and it turned out beautifully.

John W Drain

An amazing soup that is easy to make and very affordable. I did modify by adding 1 Tbsp each of white and red miso and an extra cup of water. It added a deeper umami flavor that complimented the lentils well.

Niki Davis, MD

My favorite soup right now. I told my husband I think what makes it so good are the lentils, it adds a delicious texture and is so filling. My entire family can’t stop eating it. I will be making this over and over and over.

Laura Williams

recipe calls for 4 cups vegetable stock that is never mentioned in the instructions....... what now???


The stock is mentioned in step 1.


It's mentioned! Read again!


My favorite soup recipe!

Arlene Hall

I loved this recipe. I'll be making it often.


Laura Williams, right at the beginning it says to combine the “celery, garlic, stock, basil, and oregano.” Have they added that since you looked at it?

Arlene Hall

Have been sick with cold for over a week, but tonight was the night for this recipe and it really hit the spot. I'll be making it often.


I am in the UK and can't find sun dried tomatoes. Only ones in oil.


I think it's fine to use the ones packed in oil unless you are following these meal plans strictly to control your fat intake. Shouldn't affect the flavor of the soup.


Me too, I just blotted them with a paper towel and then chopped. It works well and I think the slight added oil adds more flavor.

MacKenzie H.

Easy to throw together and a hearty soup that really is a close match to non-WFPB minestrone. It's a really forgiving recipe, so you can improvise and adapt as you'd like and it will still taste great. I like a little more umami so I added about a tablespoon of miso paste instead of the salt and was incredibly happy with the flavor.

Laurena Barlow

I need to know how much protein, potassium, phosphorus & sodium in each recipe as I have CKD. Thank you very much❤️ Laurena


Hi. I noticed there is no mention of Water in ingredients but in directions. I see below a little confused. Please clarify. I'm new to this. Thank you


Hi Carol, I assume they are using liquid stock/veggie broth. So adding 4 cups of water and some powdered or cubed stock should do fine.


What a fresh an delicious lunch we had. Had all Ingredients on hand. Chose Quinoa. Served with Naan, toasted. The recipe is easy an quick to make. The extra Kale went for chips.


Just what I’ve been looking for !!

Carol Buchanan

Excellent! I used brown rice macaroni & substituted spinach for kale. My husband even liked it & he's very picky!


Really really delicious and filling. Don't skip the Sundried tomatoes (I could only find ones in oil, so I just rinsed them in a sieve!) They really take it to the next level flavour wise. I've got enough for 3 days lunch for 2 people :)

Bonnie K

Accidentally bought smoked sundried tomatoes and made the rest of the recipe as is. Absolutely delicious.

Fran Perry

Looks wonderful and easy. What can I substitute for sun dried tomatoes?

Nolana Daoust

Delicious & hearty. A keeper!

Tracy McDiarmid

I keep looking for the point in the recipe to put the remaining 2 1/2 cups of broth but I don't see it listed. What did I miss?


I think you’re misreading the directions. It says to add stock and 1.5 cups of WATER..

Danny B.

Probably should have had the 1-1/2 cups of water in the ingredients. It would have been easier to understand. I read it wrong the first time also.


Easy, delicious, and reheats well. Will definitely make this again!

About the Author

Headshot of Carla Christian, RD, LD

About the Author

Carla Christian, RD, LD

Carla Christian received her associate’s degree in culinary arts from the Culinary Institute of America in 2006 and her bachelor’s degree in dietetics from Michigan State University in 2009. She finished her dietetic internship from the University of Nebraska Medical Center in 2010 and is a former chef in the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen. Find her on LinkedIn. Photo by Jason Donnelly.

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