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Pasta e lenticchie (Lentil and pasta soup)

  • 1 hour
  • Medium
  • First Courses
Thick and warm, this traditional fall dish is perfect for a relaxed dinner at home.
Puglia

Ingredients: Per 4 servings

  • 9 oz spaghetti, broken 1 inch pieces
  • 10 oz lentils
  • 3 ½ oz celery
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 3 ½ oz onion
  • 11 oz canned tomatoes
  • 3 ½ tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste

Preparation:

Rinse the lentils and place them in a pot of cold water. Soak for 12 hours.

Then, chop the celery and onion. Place a pot, preferable an earthenware pot, over medium heat. Add the olive oil and, once hot, add the onion, celery and 1 clove of peeled garlic. Cook for 5 minutes, then add the peeled tomatoes. Once the sauce is fairly thick, add the lentils and cover with cold water. (The water should cover the lentils by ½ an inch.)

Bring to a boil, cover the pot and cook for 20 minutes over low heat. Adjust the salt and add the broken spaghetti. Cook the pasta for the time indicated on the box.

Remove the pot from the heat and drizzle with olive oil.

Serve the pasta while hot and garnished with a generous amount ground black pepper.

Food History

Legumes have been cultivated for thousands of years and although they have never been considered a prized ingredient, they can be found in almost all cuisines due to their nutritional value. Lentils, in particular, are believed to be the first legumes to be cultivated, almost 10,000 years ago in what is now the Middle East. They probably were first grown in Syria and from there, spread to the rest of the Mediterranean area, first in Egypt, then to Greece and Rome.
Mentioned in the book of Genesis and noted for their therapeutic value by the ancient Greek physician Galen, lentils were particularly popular during the Middle Ages. Whereas most legumes were considered food of the poor, lentils were more highly regarded and were eaten by people of all social classes during the days of fasting set forth by the liturgical calendar.

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