While going through the cupboards, I realized that I haven't touched any of the legumes that I had been continuously buying the past months. With the different kinds that I have accumulated, you would think that I have a show and tell project going on.
I started with the lentils of Abruzzo. The good ones come from that area and the best being the lentils of Santo Stefano di Sessanio. They are smaller & darker, having a higher iron content than the rest of its counterpart. And they are tastier too. I mixed what remained of my stock from our last trip from Santo Stefano di Sessanio and I opened a new pack from the same region. Here, you will find another recipe I did with lentils cooked with red mullet plus some pictures of Santo Stefano di Sessanio.
No one gets tired of lentil soup. There's nothing to negate about it really. It's healthy, tasty, easy to do and economical. I rarely do it at home, which I intend to correct immediately. The kids eat them without any untoward reactions which gives me a better reason to keep on cooking it.
I usually cook the lentils the classic way with the usual vegetables but when I add the pancetta affumicata and speck, it becomes spectacularly delectable. The two kinds of ham together work their wonders in making this dish very good. Jazzing up boring dishes with savory characters just has to happen sometimes. If you are vegetarian and would like the dish to be traditional, just take away the cured meat part and you will still enjoy this lentil and pasta soup.
Lentil and Pasta Soup
- 250 g. lentils
- 200 g. ditalini pasta (or any short & small pasta)
- 2 celery stalks, minced
- 2 carrots, minced
- 75 g. pancetta affumicata, diced
- 75 g. speck, diced (If you don't have speck, just replace it with pancetta affumicata. So instead of 75 g., make it 150 g. of pancetta affumicata.)
- 2 cloves garlic, halved
- 1 onion, chopped
- 2 big tomatoes, chopped
- 1 liter hot vegetable broth
- 1 - 2 cups hot water
- extra virgin olive oil
- 4 laurel leaves
- grated parmigiano reggiano (optional)
- Saute' garlic with extra virgin olive oil in a big saucepan. After a couple of minutes, add onion, carrots & celery. Cook for 5 minutes.
- Add diced pancetta and speck. Toast & brown them, about 8 minutes.
- Add tomatoes. Cook for another 5 minutes.
- Add lentils. Mix them to coat with the oil and vegetables, about 3 minutes.
- Pour hot vegetable broth in the saucepan. Add laurel leaves. Bring to a boil. When it boils, cover and simmer for about 30 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Cooking time always depends on the kind of lentils used. If you see that the sauce is drying up, add some hot water.
- Stir in the uncooked pasta and cook for 8 minutes (ditalini cooks for 8 minutes) or following the cooking time of the pasta that you added. Season with pepper. Add salt if still needed.
- Before servng, drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with parmigiano reggiano (if desired).
- Serve hot.