Warm and Comfort Lentil, Apple and Chestnut Soup

This month’s first recipe is an intriguing soup: the slightly sweet flavour of apples and chestnuts mixed with the taste of lentils will win you over.

This comforting soup is a traditional recipe from Abruzzo, a beautiful central Italian region. Montepulciano d’Abruzzo, a red wine made from grapes that grow in this region, is the right wine match for this soup.

There are many types of lentils, some are red, others are yellow or orange. To prepare this soup we used the brown type called Castelluccio di Norcia (Sibillini mountains in Umbria region), whose main characteristic is a soft consistency and a thin skin. This variety of lentils doesn’t need to be soaked before cooking. This makes the lentils a lot easier and quicker to work with.

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INGREDIENTS for 4 servings:

200g dry Castelluccio di Norcia lentils
15-20g chestnuts
1 small apple, peeled and chopped in small pieces
3 tbsp of tomato puree
1 garlic clove
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
1 celery stick, chopped
a bunch of parsley, rosemary and basil, finely chopped
2 bay leaves
extra virgin olive oil
salt and pepper, to taste

With a knife engrave chestnuts on the flat side. Then boil them for about one hour, adding 1 bay leave and 2 tbsp of oil to the water. In this way you’ll peel the chestnuts easily. Let the chestnuts cool, and then remove the shell and skin.  Keep aside.

Place the lentils in a strainer and thoroughly rinse under running water. Then put them in a large pot and pour enough cold water to totally cover the lentils. Add salt and a bay leave. Cover the pot with a lid and and bring to a boil. Then reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. During cooking add more hot water if needed. Cook until the lentils are tender (around 30 min).

In another pot pour 3 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, add onion, garlic, celery, tomato puree and apple. Let them sauté for around 10 min until soft, keeping stirring with a wooden spoon. Then pour the lentils and their cooking water into the pan, removing the garlic. At the end add the herbs and the chopped chestnuts. Let the soup cook for about 10 min at medium heat, or as long as the soup reaches the preferred consistency.

Serve hot with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and freshly ground pepper.

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Francesca & Marinella

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