Per far minestra di Lenti secche - To prepare a thick soup of dried lentils


Esau and the Mess of Pottage, by Jan Victors (1619-1676)

I love lentils! They are one of my favorite legumes and they have a very long history of cultivation dating back between 8000 and 10000 years ago.  When I found this recipe in Scappi's Opera I knew I had to try it.  It makes a delicious  (and inexpensive) soup, but an even better salad.  

I have to confess, I cheated and used canned lentils for the salad, but you could make this even less expensive and purchase dried lentils and cook them yourself according to your packages directions.  I have included the soup recipe here, along with the changes I made to convert this from a soup to a salad.

When/if the SCA allows us to cook feasts again, you will be seeing this soup at a future event. 

Per far minestra di Lenti secche - To prepare a thick soup of dried lentils

Clean dirt off the lentils and put them into a pot with warm water; remove any that float and boil the rest in the same water. While they are boiling, with a large, holed spoon lift out any that rise to the top and put them into another pot: that is done so that the sand that sometimes gets into their little hole will come out and drop to the bottom of the pot. Put good lentils into a pot with oil, salt, a little pepper, saffron, water and a handful of beaten fine herbs; finish off cooking them. For the dish to be good, make the broth rather thick. Cloves of garlic can also be cooked with them, and bit pieces of tench and pike.

1 ½ c. lentils
2 ½ c. water
2 T olive oil
1 tsp black pepper
2 cloves garlic chopped
3/4 tsp salt
¼ tsp. Pepper
Herbs to taste; basil, rosemary, oregano, fennel, thyme, parsley or sage  
Pinch saffron

Opt: Onion (for modern taste), additional olive oil, lemon

The beauty of lentils is that they do not need to go through a prolonged soaking period. Do make sure to rinse your lentils before you add them to your pot of water, and do make sure that as they cook you remove any that rise to the top, and any scum that forms while they are cooking. You can if you choose cook your lentils in vegetable stock but it is not a necessary step.  

Cook your garlic in your oil, add all other ingredients with the exception of salt.  Bring water to a boil, lower heat to a medium-low and simmer your soup until lentils are tender.  You may add any herbs you wish.  I usually add a handful of kale to this soup along with some onion (which I've cooked with the garlic), thyme, basil and parsley. 

To serve, garnish with a drizzle of oil and a squirt of lemon. 

To Make into a "Salad" -  Make a dressing using lemon juice or vinegar (about 1/4 cup), olive oil (about 3/4 cup), herbs and spices, and mix with your lentils while warm.  Serve warm or cold.