This is a thick, hearty stew rather than a soup. It is Italian in essence, adapted from one of my all time fave books, Nigellissima. It is so healthy, and packed full of flavour. Everyone seems to like it, despite its rather grey and sludgy appearance. Arthur always says “I don’t like the way it looks!” – and then he eats a big bowl of it, so it can’t look that bad!
It’s also a great way to use up little packet-ends of pasta – we forever seem to have bags with 100g or so amounts in, which is little use to anyone really, until you make this beautiful soup… stew… whatever. Great for a bitterly cold day, the type of which we are having so many of at the moment. I’m so over this cold weather, aren’t you?!
The amounts given here are VAST. Do consider either making the lot and freezing the leftovers, or simply reduce by half. Don’t ask me why I make food in such large portions – especially as we don’t even have a freezer at the moment! Still, it always gets eaten. (If you have leftovers remember that it thickens when it chills, so simply add a little more water when reheating.)
This is a great recipe for weaning babies as it’s packed full of goodness and very soft – I gave it to both mine when they were really small.
Serve this with lots of freshly grated parmesan and a generous drizzle of extra virgin atop.
Serves: about 10-12 people
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 55 minutes
Total time: 1 hour
1 onion, diced
1 celery stick, diced
1 large carrot, diced
200g pancetta cubes
Handful fresh parsley, chopped
3 cloves garlic, crushed
2 tablespoons oil
500g green lentils
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes, plus the tin’s worth of water
2 bay leaves
2 litres vegetable or chicken stock
250g small pasta, mixed up leftovers, or something like macaroni
Salt and pepper
Extra virgin olive oil
More fresh parsley
Freshly grated parmesan
- Sweat the onion, carrot, celery and garlic in the oil until soft, about 10 minutes.
- Add the pancetta and fry for another 5 minutes. Now the parsley and cook out for a minute or so.
- Now the lentils and chopped tomatoes, along with a tin full of water and the stock, too. Add the bay leaves and bring to the boil. Simmer for about 30 mins, covered, until the lentils are cooked.
- Add the pasta and cook, uncovered, for about 10 minutes. Season and serve.