SERVES 6 TO 8
My dad remembers his mother's (Nonna Saporito) endless use of lentils; lentil soup and lentils with sausage were two familiar dishes when he was growing up. I presoak lentils the night before making this soup; this step can be eliminated, but the cooking time will be longer. At the end of the cooking time, I add a tiny soup pasta called acini di pepe for added texture and taste. This is a thick, hearty soup, which keeps well and may need to be thinned the next day with a little water or broth.
1 1/2 cups lentils
2 quarts water
1/4 cup Filippo Berio olive oil
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
1 28-ounce can plum tomatoes, with liquid
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup acini di pepe or pastina
Freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
Place the lentils in a bowl, add water to cover, and soak overnight.
Drain and discard the soaking water. Wash the lentils well in warm water, place in a soup pot, cover with the 2 quarts water, and bring to a boil. Add the oil, onion, celery, and tomatoes. Lower the heat and simmer the mixture, covered, for about 35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. (The cooking time will be about 1½ hours if the lentils were not presoaked.)
Add salt, pepper, and the pasta. Cook for about 15 minutes longer, or until pasta is al dente. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately, sprinkled with a little Pecorino Romano.
Variation: Add pieces of cooked chicken or sausage to the soup along with the pasta.
This recipe is from NELLA CUCINA by Mary Ann Esposito, published by William Morrow and Company, Inc., in 1993.
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