Lentil soup on New Year's Day is a tradition in Italy, and a longstanding tradition in our Italian-American household. The lentils are thought to look like coins, so the more you eat, the more prosperous you'll be in the coming year. Can't hurt to try, right? In any case, it's a nice hearty winter vegetable soup.
1 1/2 cups dried lentils (1/2 lb )
4 cups water
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 lb Italian sausage (I use spicy, but sweet/mild is fine too)
2 ribs celery, sliced
1/2 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes, drained
2 bay leaves
salt + pepper to taste
2 Tablespoons chopped parsley
Rinse lentils with warm water in a colander before cooking.
Put rinsed lentils and 4 cups water in a large pot, and bring to a low boil.
Reduce heat and simmer for 1/2 hour - 40 minutes, until lentils have become tender and have absorbed much of the water.
Meanwhile, in another large kettle, heat olive oil.
Slit casings on Italian sausage and crumble the sausage out into the oil. Discard casings.
Brown crumbled sausage well.
Add chopped celery and sliced carrots and continue cooking until veggies begin to soften.
Add diced tomatoes and bay leaves to the sausage-veggie mixture and let all simmer.
When lentils are done, add them, along with remaining cooking water, to the mixture in the soup kettle.
Gently mix all to combine.
Taste before seasoning -- the sausage and pan drippings plus the juice from the tomatoes will have created a nice savory flavor base that might taste just right already.
If necessary, season to taste with salt and pepper.
Remove bay leaves before serving.
Add chopped parsley.
Serve hot topped with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
About 6 - 8 servings, depending on how wealthy you want to be in the coming year!