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Lentil soup is always on the New Year's menu at Rach's house to symbolize good luck, but this hearty, comforting soup is good every day of the year.

For more ideas, check out her favorite ways to cook lentils for a cheap dinner.


For the lentils:
  • One 12- to 14-ounce package small lentils (Rach likes Italian lentils from Umbria or Norcia)
  • 2 large bay leaves
  • 1 onion, halved
  • Salt
For the soup base and to serve:
  • 1 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 2 quarts stock, chicken bone broth or vegetable stock
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
  • 2 carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, chopped
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 small bulb fennel, cored and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • Salt and black pepper or white pepper
  • About ¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
  • ¼ cup tomato paste or 1 cup chopped tomatoes (optional)
  • ½ cup white or red Italian wine
  • A generous bundle of sage and rosemary, tied with string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 cups stemmed thinly sliced Tuscan or flat kale or 6 cups stemmed medium spinach, coarsely chopped
For topping (all optional):
  • Walnuts, chopped and toasted
  • Parsley, chopped
  • Sweet or hot Italian sausage, sliced or diced
  • Crème fraiche
  • Lemon juice
  • Dijon mustard
  • Herbs


Serves: 6


For the lentils, soak lentils overnight. Rinse and drain, then place in a pot with a couple of quarts of water, bay and onion, bring to boil, season with salt and cook 1 hour, skimming the lentils as need be. Cook lentils 1 hour at low boil. Drain if more than 2 cups of liquid remain and remove bay and onion from lentils. 

For the soup base, steep mushrooms in stock in a saucepot over medium heat. Reduce liquid to 6 cups, remove the mushrooms and finely chop.  

Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with EVOO, add carrots, celery, onion, leek, fennel, garlic, season with salt and black pepper or white pepper, add a little nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon), soften 5 minutes and add tomato paste, stir to combine, add wine, herbs, stock and mushrooms, lentils, and simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale or spinach to wilt, and adjust salt and pepper.  

Serve lentils in shallow bowls with toppings of choice. (If using, mix the chopped and toasted walnuts with parsley and stir the crème fraiche with a touch of lemon juice, Dijon mustard and herbs.)