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From my family to yours, have a very Happy, Healthy New Year.
All the best to you in 2016.
It is customary in many countries around the world to eat “Good Luck” foods to ring in the New Year.
On New Year’s Day in the Italian tradition it is customary to eat Lentils and Cotechino Sausage. The lentils, because they are shaped like little coins symbolize good fortune and prosperity. The cotechino, is a big pork sausage that’s boiled over low heat for about four hours before serving. When sliced, the pieces also look like coins and is meant to give wealth in the new year. My grandmother would also add spinach to the lentils because it is green and resembles the color of money.
So to keep with tradition, I wanted to share my recipes for Lentils with you.
Diane’s Lentil Soup
2 tbsp. olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
1 medium red onion, chopped
3-4 carrots, peeled and chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3-4 garlic cloves, chopped
Salt and fresh ground black pepper
Pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)
1 (14 ½ oz.) can of diced tomatoes with their juices
1 tbsp. tomato paste
1 bag of lentils (1 bag usually equals 1 ¼ cups)
8 cups low sodium chicken broth (2 boxes) or homemade broth
4- 6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 bay leaves
1 cup grated cheese
Cooks Note: I always make lentil soup when I have the bone of a spiral ham. You could use a ham hock or skip this ingredient entirely
I have also used a 1/2 lb. of chopped bacon or pancetta sautéed in a small amount of oil as the first step.
- Sort lentils for any stones, rinse with cold water – set aside
- Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat
- (sauté bacon or pancetta if using) or add the ham bone.
- Add the red onion, celery and carrots and a pinch of salt to sweat the vegetables.
- After 2-3 minutes add the garlic, tomato paste and pinch of red pepper and sauté until all the vegetables are tender, about 5-8 minutes
- Add the tomatoes with their juices
- Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes
- Add the lentils and mix well to coat. Sauté 1-2 minutes
- Add the broth, bay leaf, thyme springs, and ham bone, if using
- Bring to a boil over high heat
- Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes
- Remove the ham bone; when cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bone. Discard the bone; dice the meat and return to the soup. Discard the bay leaf
- Add salt and pepper and taste for seasonings
- When serving, you can drizzle soup with a little olive oil and serve with grated cheese
Cooks Note- salt the lentils at the end of cooking, rather than the beginning, so that they don’t remain hard.
I hope you try this recipe and it brings you and your loved ones,
good fortune in 2016 !
Until my next post, make every day a celebration!
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