New Year’s Lentils

In many cultures, eating lentils for the New Year  is considered to be good luck. Italians believe that the lentils represent coins, and eating them will bring prosperity in the coming year. Every January 1st, Hungarians and Brazilians eat lentil soup hoping it will bring riches, and even in the American South, families are served “Hoppin’ John”, a lentil, black-eyed pea, and greens stew, which is said to bring luck to those who eat it.
One recent afternoon it was cold outside and we were snowed in (which in Connecticut, just means we had a couple of inches of snow with more falling).  Those are the kind of days I love to bake.  Oh blurg!  What about my New Year’s resolution to “eat fewer cookies” ?  Since it would be nice to be able to stick to my guns for at least a couple weeks, baking was out of the question.  I decided a big pot of soup was in order…and because lentils are lucky, lentils it would be.  Maybe some of that luck would lend itself to helping me keep that “cut-back-on-cookies” resolution. 
As I poured over my pantry, I found a container of French green lentils, plus another of pearled barley.  I decided to combine these two ingredients to make a super-healthy, hearty soup, perfect for a cold winter’s day.  I started by sauteeing a trio of onion, carrot and celery (referred to as “mirepoix” or “soffrito”), which intensifies the flavor of the soup.  The lentils and barley give it some heft, so it is a meal in itself.  Serve it with some hearty bread, and you’ll forget you’re housebound for awhile!
Lentil Soup with Barley
Serves 8
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrot, chopped
1 large stalk celery, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
6 cups vegetable broth
2/3 cup lentils (brown, green, or black)
2/3 cup pearled barley
1- 14 oz can diced tomatoes
olive oil
salt and pepper
In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Saute onion, carrot, and celery.  After a couple minutes, add garlic, and continue to saute until veggies are softened but not beginning to brown.
Add broth, lentils, barley and tomatoes and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, and simmer for approximately 30 minutes, or until both lentils and barley are cooked (they will be tender and not have any “bite” to them). 
Using an immersion blender (stick blender), puree about 1/3 of the soup right in the pot.  If you don’t have an immersion blender, remove about 2 cups of the soup, transfer to a blender, and puree.  Return puree to pot (note:  be careful when blending hot liquids!  Remove the vent in the blender’s cover, and place a kitchen towel over the hole while blending, to allow for steam to escape). 
Season to taste with salt and pepper.  Serve hot. 

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3 Responses to “New Year’s Lentils”

  1. Sarah Says:

    I made this soup this past weekend and it was quite the hit with the whole family. We also tried the meatloaf recipe and the Chicken Pizzialo. They were wonderful too. All are recipes I will use again and again. Next up will be the Greek Lemon Soup!

  2. Jennifer Johnson Carr Says:

    Loved this soup. It was perfect after an afternoon of skiing. We had with some good crusty bread and a glass of wine. The leftovers were great to take for lunch the next day!

  3. Tracy Says:

    I’m so glad you enjoyed this soup! It is a great one this time of year…I hope you’ll make it again and again! Thanks for commenting!!!

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