Zuppa di Lenticchie
(Italian lentil soup)
Lentils are an ancient crop, nutritious and full of fiber. Lentil soup is an easy dish to throw together, and is hearty enough to make a full meal. Perfect for vegetarians, zuppa di lenticchie is the Italian version. Germans make Linsensuppe, the French soupe aux lentilles. The Greeks have fakis, and the Turks enjoy mercimek çorbasi.
Given that lentils look a little like small coins, in many countries it is thought be be good luck to eat a dish of lentils to ring in the New Year. The better to earn lots of money in the coming months!
4 to 6 servings
- Olive oil -- 3 tablespoons
- Onion, chopped -- 1
- Carrot, peeled and chopped -- 1
- Celery, chopped -- 2 stalks
- Garlic, minced -- 2 to 3 cloves
- Tomatoes. chopped -- 2 cups
- Stock or water -- 8 cups
- Lentils -- 2 cups
- Parsley, chopped -- 1/4 cup
- Rosemary -- 1 sprig
- Bay leaf -- 1
- Salt and pepper -- to taste
- Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot over medium-high flame. Add the onion, carrot, celery and garlic and saute until the onion is transculent, 5 to 6 minutes.
- Add the tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for another 3 to 4 minutes. Then add the remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Reduce flame to medium-low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked through but not falling apart.
- Adjust seasoning and serve with crusty bread.
Lentil Soup Variations
- Add pasta, pearled barley or rice when you add the lentils. This makes a thicker soup, and you make have to add more liquid..
- For a meaty meal, add chunks of chicken, pork, or sausages to your simmering soup.
- German Linsensuppe: Saute some chopped bacon and use the bacon fat instead of olive oil. Eliminate the garlic and tomatoes. Add sliced frankfurters and chunks of potato.
- Greek Fakes: Add some oregano. When you serve the soup, drizzle it with some olive oil and red wine vinegar.
- Spanish Sopa de Lentejas: Use red lentils and add a tablespoon of good paprika to the onions, carrots and celery as you saute them. Brown some Spanish chorizo and add it to the soup.
- Turkish Mercimek Çorbasi: Use 1 1/2 cups of red lentils and 1/2 cup of bulgur wheat. Eliminate the rosemary, and add a tablespoon of paprika and 2 teaspoons of cumin to the onions, carrots and celery as you saute them. Garnish with mint and drizzle with olive oil and lemon juice.