Lentil and Chestnut Soup

  • Updated: January 27, 1998 - 10:00 PM

This soup, from "Soups of Italy," is said to be from the Abruzzi region. If fresh chestnuts are not available, vacuum-packed or canned chestnuts may be substituted. Pancetta is cured, not smoked bacon.

  •   6 c. cold water

  •   1 tsp. coarse salt

  •   2 fresh bay leaves or 1 dried

  •   1 c. (7 oz.) brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed

  •   3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

  •   3 to 4 oz. (about 2/3 c.) diced pancetta

  •   4 fresh basil leaves, finely shredded

  •   8 oz. chestnuts, fresh roasted or vacuum-packed or canned, peeled and drained

  •   Pinch of thyme and marjoram

  •   2 tsp. tomato paste

  •    2/3 c. dry white wine

  •   Salt and freshly ground pepper

  •   4 slices country bread

    Combine the water, salt, bay leaves and lentils in a heavy-bottomed soup pot. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until tender, about 1 hour.

    About 10 minutes before the lentils have finished cooking, in a separate heavy saucepan, combine the oil, pancetta and basil and saute over medium-low heat. Add the chestnuts and herbs and saute, stirring often, for 5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and wine and cook until evaporated, about 10 minutes. Using a wooden spoon, stir the entire mixture into the cooked lentils and cook for 10 minutes more. If needed, add a little water and salt and pepper to taste.

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