Lentil Tomato Soup
The New Year has come and gone, and we are well past it now, though it feels like it was yesterday that we were toasting 2010 (though we admittedly didn’t make it to midnight). The Italians eat lentils on New Years, for the same reason that the Jews eat carrots on Rosh Hashanah, because of their resemblance to coins and that they swell when they cook, representing abundance, we skipped lentils this year, as well as black eyed peas and collards, from the Southern tradition, but we made up for what we didn’t eat on December 31st the days following New Years, with a hearty lentil stew.
This was yet another recipe that I found in the New York Times’ Recipes for Health series, which tends to meet my needs for healthy and delicious meals. Unfortunately everything that is featured these days are winter vegetables in the cabbage family, which my daughter is telling me I shouldn’t eat, and considering the fact that her getting what she needs from me is more important that my desire for cabbagey foods, I can miss out on these greens for one year.
Lentil Tomato Soup adapted from the New York Times
- 1 cup lentils, washed and picked over
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, left whole
- 1 carrot, diced
- 1 stalk of celery, diced
- Salt to taste
- 1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
- 5 cups water
- A bouquet garni made with 2 sprigs rosemary and 1 bay leaf (I used sage and bay leaves)
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven, and add the onion. Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes. Add the garlic, carrot and celery, and a generous pinch of salt, and continue to cook for another five minutes until tender. Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni, and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes. Add the lentils, water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently one hour. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the bouquet garni, and stir in the parsley. Serve, garnishing each bowl with Parmesan or Gruyère.
Variation: For an even more substantial, minestrone-like soup, add 1 cup cooked elbow macaroni, rice or quinoa just before serving.
Yield: Serves four.
Advance preparation: This soup will improve overnight, and keeps well for three or four days, though you will probably finish it sooner. It can be frozen for a couple of months.