“That bowl of soup—it was dearer than freedom, dearer than life itself, past, present, and future.”
― Alexander Solzhenitsyn
I haven’t posted much lately because, in addition to the pandemic and my lack of travel, I’ve been dealing with a personal health situation. I thought, though, that I might post a recipe or two of things I’ve been able to eat during this time since (and I know you’ll find this hard to believe) they are old recipes my mom and grandmother used to make. I just simplified them a bit.
Lentils, as you are probably aware, are legumes and are part of the cuisines of Europe, Asia, and Africa (mostly north). There are many varieties of lentils—green, yellow, orange, brown, black, and they are high in both protein and fiber. Moreover, they’re easy to cook; you do not need to soak them overnight as you would other dried legumes such as blackeyed peas and kidney beans.
I will admit that I have not cooked lentils from their dry state. Instead, I buy Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils, a 17.6 ounce package of French lentils (French Lentil are smaller in size) and use what I need for the soup. If you don’t use the entire package, you can freeze the leftovers or use them in another recipe.
17-ounce package beef or chicken broth
12 ounces of Trader Joe’s Steamed Lentils
15-ounce can petite-diced or crushed tomatoes (Italian style or with basil)
* See sidenotes
Cooked pasta (pastine, orzo, quadrattini, etc)
Combine the broth and tomatoes in a pot and heat to boiling. Add the lentils and cook until heated through. You can add the pasta to the soup in the pot, or put some in a bowl and top with the soup. How much pasta you add is up to you; there are times I don’t even use pasta.
Because I cannot eat garlic and onions, I do not add them to my soup. You can add them to taste. In addition, I know some Italian cooks who add carrots and celery, If you add any of those items, you should cook them down in the pot with a. little olive oil. Once the onions have clarified, add the soup and tomatoes and continue.
Also note that you can make this a lighter soup by reducing the amount of lentils and pasta that you use. I like the lighter version in the summer.