There are a number of traditional “lucky” New Years foods. I think most people are familiar with eating black-eyed peas for prosperity. I grew up eating dduk gook, Korean rice cake soup, every new year. And apparently, Italians celebrate New Years Eve with lentils to bring good fortune.
So with these traditions in mind as well as the ever-so-common New Year’s resolution of eating healthier, our first dinner of 2012 was lentil soup. I love lentils for their high protein content in vegetarian meals. They’re hearty but also healthy, and this soup is an easy way to incorporate them into your diet. There’s a bit of chopping, but nothing too strenuous… and I minced the garlic in my new garlic zoom and it was fun and practical, and my hands didn’t end up smelling like garlic! Also, Mark Bittman provides seven ways to jazz up your lentil soup.
2 cups lentils, rinsed and picked through
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped (about 2 cups)
2 cloves of garlic, minced (about 1/2 tablespoon)
2 carrots, diced (about 1 cup)
3 celery stalks, diced (about 1 cup)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
6 cups chicken, beef, or vegetable stock/broth or water
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon tomato paste (optional)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
Soak the lentils with super hot tap water in a bowl and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain. Heat the oil in a large pot on medium heat. Saute the onions until they are translucent, about 5-7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook together for a minute or two. Add the carrot and celery and saute for about 5-7 minutes. Stir in the salt, pepper, thyme and cumin. Add the stock/broth/water, bay leaf, tomato paste, if using, and the lentils to the pot. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer covered, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are cooked through (about 30 minutes). Stir in the vinegar and taste for seasoning, adding salt and pepper if needed, before serving.