My mom’s lentil soup has gotten better with age…my age. It wasn’t my favorite as a kid, but I have definitely come to love and appreciate it over the years. It’s a great option for vegetarian guests and although the vegetables make it light, the lentils make it hearty and substantial. Personally soup is my favorite way to eat vegetables because their flavors are enhanced and they remain hot throughout the whole meal due to piping hot broth. Lentil soup is my go-to for New Year’s Day when I make it with sausage because eating lentils and pork on January 1st is an Italian tradition said to bring abundance and wealth. It doesn’t hurt that this soup is also flavorful, hearty and satisfying! As usual the recipe below is just a guide. You can vary the vegetables to suit your taste. Although my mom never did it, sometimes I like to add sausage and even pasta for a wonderful all in one meal. See the notes section below for cooking instructions on the variations of this soup. Enjoy!
- 1 1/2 cup dried brown lentils
- 8-10 cups of water (less water will make a thicker soup, more will produce more broth)
- 1-2 large celery stalks
- 2 -3 carrots
- 1 medium onion
- 2 medium plum tomatoes
- 2 clove garlic, peeled and squashed
- 2-3 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon of olive oil
- Salt & pepper to taste
- Fresh chopped parsley (about a handful)
- 2 links of broiled sausage (optional)
- 1/2 cup pasta, measured dry (optional)
- Rinse lentils and set aside in a colander to strain.
- Rough chop the celery, carrots, onions and tomatoes so that they are all about the same size (about a 1/2 inch cube) so they cook evenly
- Peel garlic and squash or simply cut in half
- Partially fill a medium size soup pot (about 4 quart) with water (+/- one cup depending on how thick you want your soup) and then add the chopped vegetable, garlic, bay leaf, lentils, olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.
- Cook over medium heat until soup comes to a boil then reduce heat to low, cover and let simmer about 30-35 minutes or until the vegetables are soft.
- Stir the fresh parsley into the soup toward the end of cook time when the vegetables start to soften
- If using already broiled sausage, add to the soup toward the end of cook time when vegetables start to soften
- If using pasta, add already cooked pasta right before serving the soup
- When the vegetables are soft, remove from heat
- Serve hot
Note: If adding sausage, broil it for about 15-20 minutes or until brown, turning it once midway. Start broiling the sausage once all of the ingredients are in the water. When done, slice it and add it to the soup toward the end of the cooking time. If adding pasta, cook the pasta separately according to the instructions 20 minutes into the soup cook time. Once the pasta is done, add it to the soup and serve immediately. Keep in mind that the pasta will absorb the broth pretty quickly so it is best to keep the cooked pasta in a separate container with a small amount of broth adding enough pasta only to the portion of soup you are eating.