Umbrian Lentil Soup (Zuppa de Lenticchie) | Christopher Kimball’s Milk Street

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Milk Street Recipe
Milk Street Bowtie Umbrian Lentil Soup (Zuppa de Lenticchie)

Umbrian Lentil Soup (Zuppa de Lenticchie)

1 hour

Umbrian Lentil Soup (Zuppa de Lenticchie)

Free

In her kitchen in Perugia, Italy, home cook Silvia Buitoni taught us how to make brothy but hearty Umbrian lentil soup, or zuppa di lenticchie, a regional classic and a fine example of rustic Italian cooking. Of utmost importance, of course, are the lentils. Golden in tone with a pale green cast, Castelluccio lentils, which are grown in the Umbrian village of the same name, are the backbone of this simple but satisfying dish. Their flavor is nutty, earthy and subtly sweet, and though they become tender and plump with cooking, they still retain their shape beautifully and don’t break down as they cook. Castelluccio lentils are worth seeking out in Italian markets or online—but if you can’t find them, opt instead for French lentils du Puy, which are green-gray in color and have similar texture and flavor characteristics. Puy lentils may take a little longer to cook, so be sure to taste them for doneness.

4 to 6

Servings

Tip

Don’t cook the lentils covered for the entire time. When they’re just shy of tender, uncover the pot, turn up the burner half a notch and cook for a few more minutes. This allows some of the liquid to evaporate so the broth becomes thicker and richer.

1 hour

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
2 medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped
2 medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch pieces
Kosher salt and ground black pepper
2 medium garlic cloves, finely grated
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1 1/4 cups Castelluccio lentils (see headnote) or lentils du Puy, rinsed and drained
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve
Ingredients
  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 2

    medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped

  • 2

    medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 3

    tablespoons tomato paste

  • cups Castelluccio lentils (see headnote) or lentils du Puy, rinsed and drained

  • 1

    tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

  • ¼ to ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

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Umbrian Lentil Soup (Zuppa de Lenticchie)

Get Ready to Cook

4 to 6

Servings

1 hour

Tip

Don’t cook the lentils covered for the entire time. When they’re just shy of tender, uncover the pot, turn up the burner half a notch and cook for a few more minutes. This allows some of the liquid to evaporate so the broth becomes thicker and richer.

Ingredients
  • 3

    tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more to serve

  • 1

    medium yellow onion, chopped

  • 2

    medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped

  • 2

    medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch pieces

  • Kosher salt and ground black pepper

  • 2

    medium garlic cloves, finely grated

  • 3

    tablespoons tomato paste

  • cups Castelluccio lentils (see headnote) or lentils du Puy, rinsed and drained

  • 1

    tablespoon minced fresh rosemary

  • ¼ to ½

    teaspoon red pepper flakes

  • Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Step 1 of 3

Prepare Your Dutch Oven

1
medium yellow onion, chopped
2
medium celery stalks, halved lengthwise and chopped
2
medium carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise and cut into ¼-inch pieces
½
teaspoon kosher salt
2
medium garlic cloves, finely grated
3
tablespoons tomato paste

In a Dutch oven over medium-high, heat the oil until shimmering.


Add the onion, celery, carrots and ½ teaspoon salt; cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are lightly browned, about 5 minutes.


Add the garlic and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 30 seconds.


Add the tomato paste and cook, stirring often, until the paste begins to brown and stick to the bottom of the pot, about 2 minutes.

Step 2 of 3

Stir In The Lentils

6
cups water
cups Castelluccio lentils (see headnote) or lentils du Puy, rinsed and drained
1
tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
¼ to ½
teaspoon red pepper flakes

Add 6 cups water and scrape up any browned bits. Stir in the lentils, rosemary and pepper flakes.


Bring to a simmer, stirring often, then cover and reduce to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are just shy of tender, about 40 minutes.

Step 3 of 3

Cook the Lentils

Kosher salt and ground black pepper
Finely grated Parmesan cheese, to serve

Uncover, increase the heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are fully tender and the soup has thickened slightly, 8 to 10 minutes. Taste and season with salt and black pepper. Serve drizzled with additional oil and sprinkled with Parmesan.

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