Orzo Bolognese Soup (vegan | plant-based)

When I was thinking of new soup recipes to develop, I was inspired by rich bolognese sauce. That’s where this soup came from – the idea of a meaty, hearty, comforting soup with the flavors of an Italian bolognese sauce.

Of course, I wanted it vegan, so I needed a way to give it meaty flavor and texture. I use a combination of finely chopped mushrooms, smashed chickpeas and green lentils and they come together to make this soup thick, delicious and satisfying. Finally, for the pasta factor, I add orzo, making this soup an easy-to-eat, easy-to-store one-pot pasta dish that’s a total crowd-pleaser.

Orzo Bolognese Soup
serves 6+


3 tablespoons olive oil
2 large carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
1 medium-large yellow onions, diced
sea salt, fine grain
3 cloves garlic, minced
10 oz cremini mushrooms, finely chopped
2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 dry bay leaf
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flake, optional
28 oz canned crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
4 cups vegetable broth, low- or reduced- sodium
1/2 cup dry green lentils
14 oz can chickpeas, drained/rinsed
2/3 cup dry orzo pasta
2/3 cup raw cashews
fresh basil for garnish

To Make

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium to medium-high heat. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Allow to sweat for 8 minutes. Add mushrooms and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add parsley, oregano, thyme, bay leaf and red pepper flake. Then the tomatoes, stock/broth, 2 cups water, dry lentils, crushed chickpeas and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to boil, reduce to simmer and cover with a lid, leaving a small opening for venting. Simmer for 30-40 minutes. Remove bay leaf. Add pasta and continue simmering until pasta is cooked. Stir occasionally, making sure the pasta isn’t sticking to the bottom of the pot.

Meanwhile, make the cashew cream. Blend cashews with 1.5 cups water until super smooth. When the pasta is finished cooking, stir in cashew cream. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Garnish each serving with fresh chopped basil.

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