Hello and Happy Holidays to all!
On the 25th of December I hosted a Christmas party for my family. It was fantastic!
It was a pot-luck party so everyone brought something. My Aunt Mary made this beautiful fruit salad with berries, romaine lettuce and slivered almonds – delicious. My mom made her famous lasagna my Aunt Rosa made some Sicilian sausage buns , Aunt Lisa, the veal roast and the list goes on ….We had so much food!! We’re nuts.
Anyway, my job was to make the appetizers. One of the favorites of the evening was my red lentil soup.
I served up mini-bowls of this soup to people as they arrived. It was a cold and snowy day and the soup really did the trick. It was warm, inviting and flavourful. Lots of people asked for the recipe and had seconds!
Its not a recipe that I made up…It is my sister-in-law Johanne who introduced me to this as well as the concept for serving it as an appetizer. She served her’s in these beautifully painted little coffee cups. Very pretty. I was serving 25 people and did not have enough coffee cups to go around – too bad.
You can buy red lentils anywhere but I buy a brand called Dunya from Costco. Its a big bag so it goes a long way. Also what’s great about red lentils in particular is that they are a dry bean but they don’t need to be soaked and they cook super fast. It is so healthy and so tasty that you can make this often, even on weeknights.
Note: Red lentil soup, when cooked isn’t red at all. It’s yellow and looks like yellow split pea soup.
I simply made the recipe found on the back of the Dunya package. (I had to double the recipe for my group – I served one ladle-full per guest and I had a little left over for the week)
DUNYA Red Lentil Soup
1 cup of red lentils
6 cups of vegetable or chicken stock (I used low sodium chicken)
3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion
4 tsp of minced garlic ( I use 4-5 minced cloves , the more the merrier)
1/2 a tsp of cumin seeds (put a 1/4 tsp of seeds but you shouldn’t omit it if you’re not a fan – it works well with this soup)
2 small dried chili pepper (or a pinch of red hot pepper flakes)
2 stalks of celery, chopped
2 carrots, chopped
1 bay leaf
Salt , to taste (I used 1 tsp in a double batch and it was enough so you can use 1/2 tsp)
Fresh cracked pepper
In a saucepan , heat olive oil on medium
saute onions on medium heat until soft.
Add the minced garlic and cumin seeds.
Saute garlic and cumin seeds for 2 mins. Lower the temperature if garlic begins to brown. You just want to release the flavor.
Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil.
Cover and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 30 mins.
Uncover and let simmer for another 10 minutes.
Season to taste.
I recently learned a fun fact about lentil soup and the holidays from my friend Freddy. Apparently, Italian folklore holds that eating lentils on Christmas or New Years brings good luck and prosperity. The round lentils symbolize coins.
I didn’t know this when I made it but I’m even happier that I did now!
So, in closing, I wish you all good luck and prosperity for this holiday season along with good health, happiness, and good food! (Turns out Lentil Soup can help you in all of those areas , eh?)