Hearty vegetarian stew.
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
2 medium ribs celery, chopped
¼ cup tomato paste
2 cups chopped seasonal vegetables (potatoes, zucchini, butternut squash, green beans or peas all work)
4 cloves garlic, pressed or minced
½ teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon dried thyme
1 15 oz can diced tomatoes, with juices
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
4 cups (32 ounces) vegetable broth
2 cups water
salt to taste
2 bay leaves
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper
1 cup small pasta
1 can (15 ounces) Great Northern beans or cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
parmesan rind (if you have one), for flavor
2 cups baby spinach or chopped kale
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese, for garnishing (optional)