Tips: Do not let the soup boil at any time. Just a lazy simmer. Measure the dried spices level. I prefer to make my own stock but if you wish to buy stock choose one without salt, msg, or chemicals. I like to use a combination of vegetable and chicken stock. Gently heat the stock in a separate saucepan before adding it to the soup.
If possible use organic lentils and vegetables. My first choice lentils are Shiloh Farms black beluga lentils, second choice is French green lentils, but you could use any kind of lentils. Spread the lentils out on a white plate and look them over for stones and shaft. Then wash them like rice, i.e., you put lentils in a bowl, cover them with cold water; let any dirt particles float to the top and then pour them off along with the water. Soaking lentils over night is not necessary.
For the pasta my first choice is the tortellini made by a company in Bologna, named Bertagni. Their pasta is sold in N.Y.C. at Fairway and Zabars. Or you could use a short dried pasta of your choice. You can store the soup in the frig for 5 days. Great to come home to.
- ½ cup lentils, washed and drained
- 2 bay leaves
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus a little extra to finish
- 4 garlic cloves, sliced (green stem removed, if any)
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup diced leek (white and light green parts)
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1/3 tsp. cumin
- 1/3 tsp. turmeric
- 1/8 tsp. cayenne
- 1/2 cup carrots, diced
- 1 cup celery, diced
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup diced ripe tomatoes (or substitute canned tomatoes)
- 8-9 cups combination of vegetable and chicken stock
- ½ bunch Swiss chard, washed and cut finely
- 1 cup fresh tortellini, boiled and drained
- Rosemary oil (see recipe on blog) to add at the end or a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil
- ½ cup (or more) grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Chopped parsley for garnish
- Bring 1½ cups of water to a boil. Add the lentils and bring back to a boil. Add the bay leaves; cover, turn heat to low and simmer 35 to 40 minutes; taste to see is they are soft. Turn off heat.
- Place a wide pot 10 to 12 inches preferable stainless steel or enamel over high heat for one minute. Turn the heat to medium-low and add 3 tablespoons of oil and then the garlic. Sauté for 2 minutes, then add the onions and leeks and continue to sauté for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the salt, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne; continue to sauté for another 3 minutes. Add the carrots and celery and sauté another minute. Add the tomato paste and move it around with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes then add the tomatoes. Turn the heat to high and add 8 cups of stock, bring to just below boiling and then turn the heat to low and simmer 10 minutes with cover askew; then add the cooked lentils and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, cover askew.
- In a separate 12-inch sauté pan, sauté greens in olive oil for 3-4 minutes adding a little stock as you go. Taste for salt just before serving, add the greens and the pasta to the soup; check the thickness and add more stock if necessary and bring back to a simmer. Serve with extra virgin olive oil drizzled into each bowl, or rosemary oil and grated Parmesan and chopped parsley.