I had my share of Lentils growing up. They say eating Lentils brings great wealth.
For this recipe, Italian or French lentils are in order. Lentils from China that are all over the markets just won't do. You need tiny green lentils from France or tiny brown Lentils from Umbria, Italy. They are the best kind.
Give two cups of lentils a rinse, then leave them in a bowl with water covering them by two inches. Italian lentils from Umbria are best as they are smaller and full of flavor. They also cook faster and do not require soaking overnight.
Wait 30 minutes. Your bad lentils will float to the top. You might find an occasional rock floating away on the top too. Skim these away and set aside your bowl. You will even begin to notice your Lentils have expanded some. Do not worry.
In a deep pot, large enough to accommodate your soup, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil.
3 carrots diced (about one cup)
2 celery stalks diced (about one cup)
One large red onion ( about one cup diced red onion)
one clove of garlic chopped
one teaspoon of salt plus some additional to taste
4 optional sausage links.
1/2 pound of shell pasta (This will go a long way in bowls later. This is enough for 6 people).
Saute them in olive oil right in your soup pot until browned but not cooked through. Remove them from the pot and continue with your vegetables. You can return the sausages whole to the pot after your liquid is added and your soup is left to cook.
(Slice the sausage before serving in bowls).
Place all of the above ingredients in your pot. Saute and medium/low until your vegetables are fragrant and "sweating." This should take a good 8-10 minutes. Continue mixing, add your Lentils. Add another teaspoon of salt. Saute for another 5 minutes. At this point you want to add 8 oz of diced tomatoes and their juice. One 1/2 cup of white wine. Let the wine reduce for 5 more minutes. Keep your heat on medium and add 7 cups of water. Your lentils should be covered with liquid by about 2 inches. Set your lid ajar and let your lentils boil away for one hour. Keep a watchful eye that your liquid doesn't completely evaporate. If it looks dry, add another cup of water. After about an hour your lentils should be quite thick. At this point you can add some dried pasta directly to your pot. Follow cooking directions. (Any shell will do or break some spaghetti in little pieces). Let your pasta cook right in your soup. If you are not comfortable with this, you may cook your pasta separately. I like to cook everything in the same pot as your pasta will take on all that wonderful Lentil flavor. Serve in large bowls with crusty bread and garnish with Parsley. Buon Appetito.
Special Hints: You may use stock for your liquid. I do not since it seems to mask the flavor of the lentils. Salt and pepper is always to taste~ enjoy!
Special Note no.2, I like to use red onion as it is sweeter and easier to handle in the kitchen. These onions cook rather quickly in this recipe and retain good sweet flavor.
Special Note no.3, You can even add a few raw sausages before adding your lentils. I do not. Follow your steps above accordingly and add 30 minutes to your cooking time as you will need to cook your sausages in your pan before adding your lentils and your liquid. You will need to remove your sausages before adding your pasta to your soup. You may even have to add one cup of water. This is not necessary but will be delicious too. Buon Appetito!
(More pics later).