Zuppa di lenticchie – Lentil soup

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Italians have always eaten a special meal for luck on New Year’s Day. Lentils – coin shaped – are said to ensure financial security in the New Year. In the North, particularly the region of Emilia-Romagna, lentils are traditionally served with delicately spiced cotechino* sausage. Make this recipe with less liquid to accompany cotechino.

  • 3/4 lb. dried lentils
  • 1/8 lb. Pancetta, cut into small dice
  • 2 T. OO
  • mixed herbs: bay leaf, marjoram, rosemary, thyme
  • 1 C. tomato sauce
  • 1 large onion, chopped and sautéed in butter or OO
  • S & P
  • approx. 20 roasted chestnuts, peeled and coarsely chopped


Soak the lentils in lukewarm water for 24 hours. The next day, bring them to a boil in lightly salted water with a few bay leaves. Once they have come to a boil, turn down to a simmer and cook until tender. DO NOT OVERCOOK or they will turn into lentil puree.

Separately, in a sauté pan, cook the pancetta in the OO over medium heat until it has rendered some of its fat. Add the herbs, tomato sauce, onions and chestnuts. Season to taste with the S & P and add this mixture to the pot of cooked lentils. Simmer for a few minutes longer, stirring well. For the soup, there should be a little over one liter of liquid left with the lentils.

Ladle the soup into heated bowls garnished with a slice of bread, plain or fried in OO.

* Cotechino is a fat, spicy, fresh pork sausage made with ground pork rind (cotiche). It is also sliced like coins as a promise of prosperity in the New Year.