Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 30 minutes
It's the New Year! Want to combine a great and easy recipe with your resolution to eat healthy? This very old recipe for lentil soup hails from the Le Marche region in Italy. Bring some tradition to your table by serving this rich and nutritious lentil stew. And lentils are a super-food legume. If you are serving non-vegan diners, they won't believe how hearty and luxurious this stew is. As with most "heritage" recipes use this as a guideline. Grandma never used a rule-book.
Cultural note: Lentil soup represented prosperity in the New Year. The carrots are cut across to mimic golden round coins - pretty and fun.
- 2 cups of lentils (green or French) rinsed and drained
- 2 cups of vegan stock (vegetable or "chicken")
- 1 cup of water
- 1/4 cup of white wine or sherry
- 1/2 cup of chopped onions
- 1/2 cup of chopped celery
- 1 carrot (sliced across into rounds - to represent the coins!)
- 2 dried bay leaves (or 1 fresh)
- 2 tablespoons of chopped Italian parsely
- 1 garlic clove
- 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon of red pepper flakes (optional)
- olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Chop the onions and the celery into a rough, 1/4 inch dice. Heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil in the stock pot. Add the onion and celery and saute until soft.
- Finely chop the garlic glove and add this to the pot. Stir into the onion and celery. Do not let the garlic burn or this will add an unpleasant bitter undertone to the stew. Immediately add the wine or sherry.
- Add the two bay leaves and pepper flakes.
- Stir in the rinsed lentils and let the wine reduce with the lentils.
- Add the 2 cups of stock and the one cup of water.
- Do not cover. Allow the stew to come to a boil and reduce the heat. Let the stew simmer for 30 minutes (do not boil).
- Add the carrot coins.
- Let the stew cook on low heat. Stir occasionally and keep an eye on the "thickness." You may need to add more water. If the stew becomes to thick, add enough water to loosen the broth. The lentils soften, absorb the broth and thicken the stew in stages.
- Lentils are a natural and varied product, so cooking times and liquid additions vary. Test the lentils for "doneness" after one hour. One they are "soft" the stew is finished. Continue cooking if you like your lentils to open and become very soft. It's all a matter of taste!
- Remove the 2 bay leaves. Toss the parsley and add some freshly cracked pepper. Test the stew for salt and add this to taste. Do not add too much salt - add in steps, stirring in between and testing for salt levels each time.
Call in the crowd! Your New Year's Resolution dinner is ready. Serve with warmed French or Italian bread (or garlic bread). Pour some extra virgin olive oil in a dish, add some herbs and fine sea alt and you have a perfect Italian dipping oil for the bread. Who knew that healthy could taste so good and be so comforting! This antique stew holds so many memories. Let it help create new ones for your family and friends.
Photo Courtesy: Flickr