Rustic Minestrone with Lentils
A good bowl of hot soup- or two even, after a long day at work and a cold walk home... that was what I was looking forward to this evening! And yet I still decided to make it "old school" and let my soup take the time it needed... but the hours wait was well worth it!
This simple minestrone, filled with good, fresh vegetables and greens and fortified with Pardina lentils was comforting and delicious- and filled with childhood memories for me! All good stuff to make me feel happy and warm inside!
My mother used to make us a similar soup to this, back when I was a little boy and she had 9 children and a hungry husband to feed, only she used to add noodles as well- which is absolutely a great idea!
I myself only opted not to... because I ate two big bowls full! Don't judge me!
And for my 2 bowls of soup, I needed my last 5-6 leaves of Tuscan kale, 1 carrot, 1 potato (or 3 tiny ones in my case), 1 onion, about 3" of leek, about the same amount of celeriac, 7-8 cherry tomatoes, a few celery leaves, 1 bay leaf and 1 1/2 cups of lentils.
Basically, minestrone's are simply made from whichever vegetables are in season--- or in your fridge! About the only constants in them are the basics of carrot, celery of some form and onion in order to get plenty of flavor into your broth... the rest is always up to you!
To get my soup started, I cut up the onion, carrot, potatoes, celeriac and kale into little chunks- remember, you want that kale to fit into your spoon and not be dangling and dripping all over! Small but chunky is the way I like it.
I put all of those ingredients into my saucepan, seasoned them with salt and pepper, added the bay leaf and 3 celery leaves and enough boiling water to cover everything and let them bubble away for 15 minutes.
15 minutes later, I added the cherry tomatoes, which I cut into quarters and the lentils. I stirred these in, brought the soup back up to the boil, reduced it to a low simmer and let it bubble away again for the next half hour.
After 45 minutes, everything was basically cooked through- time to check the seasoning and add salt and pepper accordingly- and get ready for the final step in preparation.
Last, but not least, cake the thinly sliced leek and a good pinch of chili, to add a bit of "oomph!"
I did cut the leek in half lengthways before cutting it into fine slices- again, because otherwise, when those rings come apart, they otherwise tend to tangle around your spoon when eating... and ain't nobody got time fo dat!
What you do have to have time for though, is for the soup to continue simmering away gently for a last 15 minutes... it is really worth it!
So, yes, it HAS taken an hour to cook through... but the result is wonderful- and would be better still if it cooked a little while longer- or if you were to re-heat it the next day...
A good drizzle of olive oil before serving is an absolute must and a perfect one-pot, one bowl dinner is served! The real, Italian deal! Simple food- simply good!