Brown lentil soup is part of the Italian culinary tradition, a perfect side dish to accompany meat, roast, sausages or even in a pasta or just eaten as a soup.

Brown lentils also bring to mind the New Year’s Eve because according to Italian tradition, they are served with Cotechino – a slow cooked pork sausage – as a good omen for a good year ahead, since lentils bring money and luck /cotechino-e-lenticchie-traditional-slow-cooked-pork-sausage-with-lentils/

In some parts of Italy the freckles are also nicknamed as lentils.

Serves 4, Preparation time 10 mins, Cooking time 60 to 80 mins

  • 400 gr dried brown lentils
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 1 onion
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Juniper berries, 2 – 3
  • a sprig of fresh thyme or rosemary
  • a tbsp of tomato tube paste
  • EVOO – Extra Virgin Olive Oil, 2 tbsp
  • Salt, a pinch
  • Hot water or hot vegetable broth, 2 lt


Tip: dried lentils have a soaking time 1 to 2 hours. If you use dried ones as we did, rinse them under running water, put them in cold water for an hour before cooking. Drain them afterwards.

Otherwise, you can replace them by using pre-cooked lentils that will cook in 20 – 30 mins.

Dice carrots, onion and celery, peel and halve the garlic by removing the inner part.

Heat 2 tbsp of Evoo in a pot and stir-fry the garlic for a couple of minutes, then add diced onion, carrots, celery, bay leaf and thyme or rosemary.

Tip: if they tend to brown too much, just add a bit of hot water or vegetable broth.

Stir well. As soon as they have softened, add the well drained lentils and the juniper berries. Remove the garlic.

Now pour in the hot water or hot vegetable broth, cover lentils evenly, bring gently to the boil, add a tbsp of tomato paste, stir, cover with a lid and cook over a low heat for about 2 hours or until the lentils are cooked through and tender (not mushy); if necessary, add more water or veggie broth – always hot – if they become too dry.

Remove the bay leaves, rosemary or thyme sprig and juniper berries before serving them, add a drizzle of EVOO.

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