In my home country, lentils can’t be missed on the New Year’s Day table. Supposedly, it means to keep (or bring) money into the family. I keep this custom my whole life, but not just on New Year’s Day. I am not taking any chances…. We love lentils prepared different ways, and lentil soup is one of my favorites. Since my father always said that the correct soup consistency is the one in which the spoon holds straight up (yes, he didn’t care for thin soups), I love my lentil soup thick and full of goodies.
We then eat is as an entree, when looking for a bowl of something comforting. Because my husband is a soup person, I usually cook a large pot, freeze few portions for busy days, and we enjoy it with dinner rolls. If you want to make just small amount of soup, please cut this recipe in half.
After I moved to America, my original recipe underwent changes with all the Italian influence I had around me in Connecticut.
Please, let me know if you enjoyed my recipe!
2 cups of dry lentils
8 cups of chicken broth
2 carrots (chopped)
2 sticks of celery (chopped)
1 can 14.5 oz. of diced tomatoes with its juice (lately I love the fire roasted ones)
2 table spoons of tomato paste
Salt and pepper
Polish kielbasa (or leftover ham, or smoked turkey legs) – optional
Crushed red pepper flakes (when in mood for a little heat)
Measure 4 cups of dry lentils (I always do “security check” – pour little by little to a white plate and spread dry lentils with my fingers to check for anything that doesn’t belong there. It’s not fun to bite into a piece of pebble). Wash picked lentils under running water and let sit in colander to drain in the sink.
Add clean lentils to a large soup pot, cover with all the chicken broth and bring to boil. When it reaches the boil point, bring the heat down to low and let simmer. If you have a leftover ham (or even better, the bone from ham with pieces of meat on it) throw it in there for aroma and cook together with lentils.
If I’m using smoked kielbasa, at this point I add the whole piece to cook with lentils.About 10 minutes into the cooking I add cleaned and chopped carrots and celery sticks as well.
When the lentils are softer and vegetables almost cooked (about 20-25 minutes), stir in whole can of diced tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir well. Taste and season with salt and pepper if desired (some broths are salty enough). Let simmer for 5 more minutes or until the lentils are soft and all the flavors blended together nicely. Before the soup is done, take out the bone from ham (if used). When kielbasa is nice and soft, take it out of the soup with thongs, let cool on the cutting board and chop into small pieces. Return to the soup and enjoy!
One time I purchased a smoked turkey legs. Great addition to my lentil soup! I cooked it with the lentils and got a great, aromatic smokey soup. I then took it out, pulled the meat off the bone and returned the smoked turkey yumminess to the lentil soup. What a match!