Oh dear, I am 23 days late with this “good luck” dish. I am hoping that “better late than never” will apply here. You see, lentils on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day (my family has always been loose with some traditions so we usually give ourselves a day or two to carry out the deed), is said to bring good luck. Well at least this is so for Italians, and I believe it is so for a few other countries, such as Brazil and Germany, but perhaps others. The lentils are symbolic of coins, so I believe this “good luck” is tied to financial matters. No difference to me…good luck is good luck, and I will take it in any form. While I was in bed with the flu this past New Year’s Eve, my sister-in-law was nice enough to make this for my husband (his family adheres strictly to these traditions), so at least I feel good about the fact that he will have good luck. Isn’t his good luck, my good luck anyway? I think that is what marriage is all about.
But now, what about me and my good luck (which is also his)? I think that an exception can be made since I was sick for some time this January. So I just wanted to get some lentil soup made as soon as I felt well enough. I don’t mean to make this superstition yours (after all, most traditions are superstitions), but if you want to join in and get some good luck, or just want to enjoy a delicious soup, give this recipe a try.
This is a slow cooker recipe, which comes from a cookbook by Judith Finlayson. You can certainly adapt it to stove top cooking. It would probably need to cook for 2 hours or so…until the lentils and veggies are soft. I don’t have a lentil soup recipe from my mom because the only soup she made was chicken soup, as you already know. We had lentils, it was not soup, but lentils cooked with tomatoes and served with macaroni…usually small elbow macaroni. I still make this recipe (and I will post it here for you as well) but I have never been a big fan of elbow macaroni. I use cut up spaghetti in this recipe. If you want this recipe to be soupier, just add some vegetable broth or more juice from the tomatoes.
Slow Cooker Mediterranean Lentil Soup with Spinach
1 cup green or brown lentils
2 onions, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
1 potato, peeled and grated
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp. Cumin seeds
1 tsp (I like 2 tsp) grated lemon zest
6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 pound fresh spinach leaves or 1 package (10 oz.) spinach, washed and coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp (I use 1 whole lemon) freshly squeezed lemon juice
1. In a colander, rinse lentils thoroughly under cold running water. In a slow cooker, combine lentils, onions, celery, carrots, potato, garlic, cumin seeds, lemon zest and broth.
2. Cover and cook on Low for 8 to 10 hours or on High for 4 to 6 hours, until vegetables are tender. Add spinach and lemon juice. Cover and cook on High for 20 minutes, until spinach is cooked and mixture is hot and bubbly.
Mom’s Lentils and Macaroni
1 pound of lentils
1 small can (1 pound 12 ounces) Italian tomatoes with Puree
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced
1/2 pound macaroni
salt and pepper
freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Fill large pot with lentils and water. Drain after a few minutes, then fill again with water. Add about a Tbsp of salt and cover and let come to a boil. Lower flame, leave it covered and cook for 1/2 hour.
In a saucepan, add 1/4 cups olive oil and sauté the garlic. Add the tomatoes (squish in your hands, of course), salt and pepper to taste. Cook this for 15 minutes, then add to the lentils and simmer for another 15 minutes.
Bring slightly salted water to a boil and add the macaroni. I like spaghetti, broken into small pieces, but any small pasta(including elbows) will do. Cook until al dente. Then drain and add to the lentil mixture.
Serve with freshly grated Parmesan cheese.