With a new year
just hours away, we could all use our share of luck for health, happiness and good fortune in 2011. They say you are what you eat, and several Eastern European countries follow a tradition of starting off every new year with a bowl of lentil soup
Lentils, like other dried peas and beans, are often considered to symbolize money. Little, round, flat lentils look a bit like coins, and Hungarian tradition has it that you will enjoy as many riches as there are lentils in your soup if they are the first thing you eat in the new year.
Besides being lucky, lentils are very good for you
. They are low in saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium, and are good sources of protein, iron, phosphorus and copper. Lentils are very high in fiber, and also supply folate and manganese. Even if lentil soup doesn't bring you instant riches, rest assured that they are a healthy boost to your diet.
Here's a hearty recipe for lentil soup
if you'd like to try this tradition on New Year's Day or any day:
(courtesy of Food Network, Alton Brown)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup finely chopped onion
- 1/2 cup finely chopped carrot
- 1/2 cup finely chopped celery
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 pound lentils, picked and rinsed
- 1 cup peeled and chopped tomatoes
- 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground grains of paradise
Place the olive oil into a large 6-quart Dutch oven and set over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery and salt and sweat until the onions are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. Add the lentils, tomatoes, broth, coriander, cumin and grains of paradise and stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. Using a stick blender, puree to your preferred consistency. Serve immediately.