Traditionally, at the strike of midnight, my family has lentil soup. In Italy this is meant as a way to ring in the New Year with good fortune and prosperity.This tradition actually dates back to ancient Rome.
I actually love this soup any time of the year. Not only is it healthy but it is a hearty soup as well.
Please note this recipe makes a very large quantity..about a gallon of soup. Feel free to cut it in half, but I suggest sticking to this recipe, because this soup does freeze so beautifully. If you are going to freeze it, leave out the pasta. You can even freeze it in small individual containers and even have it for lunch.
1 Cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
16 Garlic Cloves, Whole
10 Celery Stalks (about 1 lb), Tops and bottoms trimmed then diced
9 Carrots – (about 1 lb.), Peeled and diced
2 lbs. Dried Lentils
2 – 16 oz Cans of Whole Peeled Tomatoes, Pureed
2 ½ tsp. Salt
2 ½ tsp. Black Pepper
8 Cups of Low Sodium Chicken Broth
5 oz. of Baby Spinach, Uncooked
1 ½ lb. small pasta
2 Pecorino Romano Cheese Ends (This is optional but highly recommended)
Grated Pecorino Romano for garnish
In a soup pot, heat up the olive oil and cook the garlic cloves on low heat until they are fork tender. In a separate pot boil some water. Once it’s boiling add the lentils to the pot, and cook for 7 minutes. Drain the lentils and set aside. Remove the garlic from the oil. Raise the heat to low/medium. Put the carrots into the oil and sauté for about five minutes. Then add the celery. Sauté for another 10 minutes on a low flame. Add back the garlic to the pot. Add salt and pepper and the puréed tomatoes. Cook for about 10 minutes and then add the lentils. Give this a good stir and cook the lentils in the tomatoes for about 5 minutes. Add the chicken broth. Cook the soup for about 15 minutes. It will begin to thicken and simmer. Add the ends of the Pecorino cheese.
Boil the pasta of your choice. Add the spinach to the soup. Cook for about 5 minutes until the spinach wilts and cooks. Put some pasta in a bowl and top with soup and grated Pecorino Romano.