This lentil soup is easy to make and is a hearty dish that leaves you wanting nothing else for dinner. According to Nonna Pina, this was a common dish growing up in Italy. As children, she said they were told to eat up their lentils cause they needed the iron. There wasn’t much meat in their diet in those days so lentils and other legumes that grew locally would have been a staple in homes. There’s no doubt that this was not just an old wive’s tale. Lentils are full of beneficial fiber, iron, and many other nutrients – so do as Nonna says and eat your lentils!
“Canada is the world’s leading producer and exporter of lentils. The province of Saskatchewan produces 95% of Canada’s lentils.”
You can certainly buy canned lentils that are cooked and ready to go but don’t shy away from dry lentils! They are readily available and cook quickly. They are great on the grocery budget too – a bag of dry lentils goes a long way! Did you know that there are several types of lentils so you can try different ones or mix them together for a great combination of flavours and textures.
For this recipe, we are using 1 cup of green lentils. A cup may not sound like much but think of popcorn! Yeah, it’s more than meets the eye so don’t go doubling the recipe unless you’re feeding 10 people!
Whenever using dry lentils, it’s a good idea to sift through them and check for any debris or stones. You can find some great information on lentils and their health benefits here at Lentils Canada.
- 1 cup dry green lentils
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 medium onion diced
- 3 Roma tomatoes, fresh or frozen, peeled and chopped
- 2 large potatoes, peeled and chopped into large chunks
- 5 cups (1 1/4 litres) chicken stock at boiling point or use a bouillon cube dissolved in boiling water
- salt and pepper
- Rinse the lentils in cold water and remove any debris or stones you may find.
- Heat the olive oil in a large stock pot, add the onion and cook until softened and lightly colored.
- Add the tomatoes and potatoes.
- Cover and let cook altogether for about 20 minutes or until tomatoes have softened and broken down.
- At this point, add the drained lentils and stir to mix well.
- Add 1 cup of the chicken stock or dissolved bouillon cube liquid and stir.
- Add 2 more cups of the chicken stock to the pot and allow to absorb in (much like when making risotto.)
- Then add the remainder of the stock a little at a time, allowing the lentils to soak it in between each addition. This builds the flavor over the course of cooking.
- Once all of the water has been added, cover the pot, turn the stove to low and allow to cook for about 1 1/2 hours or until lentils are soft.
- Near the end when the potatoes are soft enough, crush them with a large fork or spoon and stir. This will thicken the soup up before serving.