Lentil Soup, a Very Old Meal

Did you know that lentils are the oldest legume cultivated by man since 7000 BC? 

They really comes in all the colors: from the yellow ones in Indian and Sri Lankan cuisine, to black, red, green and orange, up to the most well-known browns. Depending on the type, they are sown between autumn and winter and are harvested during the summer, although, as you have seen, they are available dried throughout the year. 

And yet, we always consume too little, when they should be a privileged food in our diet, because they are low in fat, rich in fiber and protein. Even more if combined with cereals in dishes such as rice and lentils or pasta and lentils, end up having a composition of amino acids equal to that of meat.

In fact, they are also called “the meat of the poor“; only that, unlike meat, lentils and legumes in general are more sustainable from an environmental point of view because they require less natural resources to grow, so much so that 2016 was the international year dedicated to them. In short, it seemed to me that there are enough reasons to talk about lentils.

They are popular during the Christmas time. To eat “cotechino” and lentils on New Year’s Eve is a tradition spread throughout Italy, think that already the ancient Romans used to eat a plate of lentils on the first day of the new year as a good omen to ensure greater wealth.

But I do not like “cotechino” (an Italian large pork sausage requiring slow cooking).

However, I found this recipe which I really like a lot, and I do eat at New Years day (I don’t want to miss my greater wealth!), but I do eat it also in winter time.

Lentil Soup

For for people

150 gr of Ditalini Pasta

200 gr of dry lentils

2 Tablespoons of simple tomato sauce (or peeled tomatos) 

Mirepoix made with 1 carrot, 1 onion un stalk of celery, 1 clove of garlic (all finely diced or chopped)

1 vegetable broth cube

Bay leaf, thyme, basil (fresh is best)

Salt and Pepper as needed

Cooking time is 45 minutes, plus the time (overnight of soaking the lentils)

– Give a rince to the lentils, then in a bowl—bigger than you think as they grow in size—cover the lentils with cold fresh water, and leave them quiet for all night possibly.

– The next day, make the mirepoix, or chop the carrot, onion, celery, garlic; and gently sautee in olive oil. When they tender and the onion is transparent, add the tomato sauce, the bay leave, thyme, and basil. Stir for a minute or two.

– Add the lentils (drained) and stir for about 5 to 10 minutes. Add 1 lt and ½ of water, add the broth of your choice, and bring to a gentle boil.  Let them simmer for about 45 minutes.

– Adjust of salt and pepper to your taste (most preparation for broth do not have added sodium these days, so you need to try yourself).

– Once the 45 minutes are passed add the pasta and cook for the time necessary for the pasta to be cooked.

– Take off the bay leaf, and serve nice and hot, maybe with a little Extra Virgin Oilve oil (if you used it sparingly before), and a sprinkle of parmesan of course.

Enjoy while knowing that you are eating something actually good for you (and your wallet too). 🙂

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I lived the most part of my life in Washington DC, now in Italy getting to know again my country. Plenty of surprises, for good and bad, and lots of nostalgia for DC.

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