I love lentils. I do. They’re packed with good nutrients, they’re a source of protein and they’re very versatile. You can enjoy them in soups, salads, purees, as sides and as mains. I love them tossed with some wild mushrooms and kale in the autumn, in a comforting soup in the winter and in a delicious salad all year round. They can even be turned into the vegetarian version of bolognese sauce which is delicious on spaghetti! My favorite lentil dishes are a red lentil coconut curry soup, David Lebovitz’s french lentil salad with goat cheese and walnuts (from his book My Paris Kitchen) and this soup which I actually inherited from my mom… my kind of comfort food for a winter’s evening dinner after a long day at work. Make a big pot and freeze any leftovers, I always love to have some in my freezer :-).
For the soup (serves 6-8 people)
200 g lentils from Puys or any other brown lentils
3 large tomatos, peeled
200 ml tomato puree (passata di pomodoro)
2 celery sticks
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
2-3 laurel leaves
2-3 twigs of fresh thyme
A pinch of pepperoncino (optional)
Freshly grated parmesan cheese to finish (optional)
Finely chop the onion, carrots, turnip and celery. Heat the olive oil and cook the onion for 2-3 minutes. Add the minced garlic, carrots, turnip and celery and cook for another 3-4 minutes at lower heat to avoid burning. Add the lentils that you’ve prewashed and drained before. Chop the tomatos and add them to the rest of the vegetables and lentils. Add the tomato puree and enough water to cover all the ingredients well. Add the spices: laurel leaves, thyme, salt, pepper and pepperoncino, if desired. Cook for 15-20 minutes in a closed pot, until the lentils and vegetables are tender.
For a creamier texture of the soup, transfer about one third of the soup into a blender and blend until creamy. Transfer the blended soup back into the pot and stir well. Transfer the soup into bowls and add a few drops of olive oil and some grated parmigiano on top to finish. Complement with some toasted, whole grain bread full of good seeds and you’ll have the best winter comfort food dinner you can imagine. My perfect dinner after a long and tiring day at work!