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Italian Vegetable Soup

I love this soup. It takes about 45 minutes to make, including cleanup. When you add the cooking time, about 1 ½ to two hours. It freezes well, or it keeps for 4 days in the fridge. A lunch you can look forward to any day!

First, put these 3 ingredients in a big soup pot:

1 cup lentils 
4 cups water
6 cups pureed fresh* or canned tomatoes. About 8 tomatoes or 2 large cans of tomatoes.

While they cook, start chopping. 

2 onions
1 yam
4 stalks celery
1 red pepper
4 stalks asparagus
1 cup cauliflower
2 cups cabbage
1 cup finely chopped jicama**
2 zucchini
Fresh basil (optional)
2 cloves garlic
1 cup chopped spinach

These ingredient amounts are really flexible. You can substitute carrots for yams, or add more of some vegetables, less of others. If you don’t have an ingredient, it doesn’t matter, just add more of another. Chop the vegetables small or large chunks, whatever you prefer to eat. You should have 12-13 cups of vegetables when you are done. 
Season with:
2 bay leaves, 
2 tbsp. Italian seasoning, 
1 ½ tbsp. himalayan salt or to taste
1-3 tsps. Apple cider vinegar to taste (optional) 
Add 2 cups drained and rinsed chickpeas, or two cups homemade chickpeas
You can also use great northern beans, or white kidney beans.

This soup is very hearty, almost a stew. Keep stirring while it cooks as it may stick to the bottom. 
Eat with rice, or kamut bread. 
This soup is a great way to increase your portions of alkaline servings for the day. 
2 ½ cups of soup provides 1 serving of beans and 4 servings of vegetables, half of the minimum recommended daily servings.  
For the tomatoes, I like to buy vine ripened on sale. I wash them, and save them in a Ziploc whole and freeze. I start my lentils cooking, and then I throw my tomatoes in a pot with a bit of water to thaw. When they are soft enough, I put them in my blender whole. No chopping, and no refined salt or BPA or other hidden additives that may be in the tomatoes due to processing. I don’t think doing it this way is much more work, and the fresh tomatoes taste way better as well.

** Jicama:
Not too many people are familiar with this vegetable. It is sweet, crunchy and juicy, not really comparable to anything. I dice it small for soup because it doesn’t cook soft, but maintains its crunch, which I really like. It makes a fabulous raw veggie as well for dipping with my Cashew Dip recipe. Try this one with kids. 
To buy them, peel off the skin a bit with your fingernail. The flesh should be nice and white underneath. If it is tan colored it is no longer fresh. It can be peeled and cut up and kept in the fridge for 2-3 days.