Zuppa di lenticchie – Lentil soup

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.

Zuppe di ceci – chick pea soup

This very easy soup is a staple in southern Italy. Relatively low in calories and very low in fat, it’s a perfect example of the healthful–and tasty–Mediterranean Diet. The soup should be highly flavored with herbs and a touch of crushed, red hot peppers.

Pancotto – bread soup

This recipe literally means “cooked bread” but is best described as bread soup. It’s the most commonly made peasant soup, which starts with a base of rustic country bread (not sliced loaf or sandwich bread, which would make it gluey and unpleasant), and a combination of local ingredients. In Italy the cook would use bread that has become firm and dry, …

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Minestrone does not really need a recipe. Farmhouse cooks use whatever vegetables are available to create supper for the family. Cook the vegetables until soft, add a filler such as beans, rice and/or pasta and finish with a final seasoning of olive oil, cheese or herbs.

THE VEGETABLES: start with the soffrito (sauté) of finely chopped carrots, …

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