Italians eat lentils for New Year’s as they are supposed to be good luck. This easy recipe makes enough that you can freeze the leftovers and save for another day. I have tried many recipes but this is my absolute favorite!
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FOR THE LENTILS
- 2 cups dried lentils rinsed (1lb. bag)
- 6 cups water
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 smoked ham shank cut into pieces or several slices of pancetta or bacon cooked and cut into pieces
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 4 stalks celery leafy tops too if have, cut into small pieces
- 3 carrots peeled and shredded
- 1 onion chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
TOMATO SAUCE PART
- 1 – 28oz. can Italian plum tomatoes chopped well
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put lentils in a large bowl, cover with water and soak for several hours or overnight; drain and rinse. Discard any that are floating.
- Saute celery, carrots, onion, and garlic in a little olive oil until soft.
- Add rest of ingredients for “Lentil part” of soup. Cover and simmer about 45 minutes; stirring a few times during the cooking.
- While lentils are cooking, prepare the "Tomato sauce" part of the recipe. In a medium-size saucepan, heat oil and garlic and then stir in tomatoes and season. Simmer uncovered, 15-20 minutes.
- Remove all the bay leaves and discard.
- Transfer half of the lentils to a food processor or use an immersion blender and puree until smooth. Return to other portion. This way the soup has some texture but not all chunky. Sometimes I puree a little bit more than half the amount.
- Add tomato sauce to lentil batch and cook another 15 minutes.
- Serve with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan and a drizzle of good olive oil if you wish.
If you have never used an immersion blender – they are fantastic. I use mine for making soup, when I make homemade sauce, and even for frothing milk for cappuccino. We even purchased one in Italy so it already has the correct electric plug; I use it that much!