Classic Italian Style Lentils (New Year Tradition)

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You don’t want to miss this classic Italian Style Lentil recipe (New Year Tradition)! Italians eat lentils for New Year for good luck. Make this easy nutritious vegetarian recipe all year long!

If you want prosperity and good luck in the coming year- you must eat these lentils on New Year’s Eve or New Year’s Day! Serve with crusty bread, and enjoy.

lentils on plate with bread
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Italian Soup Recipes

Fill up your soup bowls and prepare a meal the whole family will love.

More Italian soups you’ll loveItalian Pastina Soup Recipe (with Chicken broth)Classic Italian Minestrone SoupBlender Tomato Soup Recipe (Vitamix)Pasta e Ceci (Italian Pasta with Chickpea Soup),and BEST Bacon, Potato, and Kale Zuppa Toscana.

Classic Italian Style Lentils for New Year’s Eve

It’s a tradition to eat lentils for New Year’s Eve. Although, we make this recipe all seasons of the year.

The little coin-shaped legumes bring good fortune in the form of money. They are served on the last day of the year to bring good luck for the upcoming year. They are sometimes served with cotechino, a boiled sausage typical in northern Italy.

We make it with and without the cotechino (sausage) in our home. This is a vegetarian version of the recipe without meat. You can always add the sausage on top if desired.

Serve with my No Knead Bread RECIPE or Fast Italian No Knead Ciabatta Bread

Simple Ingredients for Italian Lentil Recipe

ingredient shot for recipe
  • Dried brown lentils
  • Onion
  • Carrot
  • Celery
  • Olive oil
  • Bay Leaf
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme 
  • Tomato paste
  • Water
  • Salt
  • Parsley (garnish)

How to Make Classic Italian-Style Lentils

Simple Italian Lentils Recipe starts with a “Soffritto.”

This humble lentil dish starts with a soffritto– the Italian term for a mixture of chopped vegetables sautéed gently in oil. The mix of vegetables generally includes onions, carrots, and celery.

The word means “under fried.” This method creates a tasty base for any soup. The added benefit is adding extra veggies to the dish!

Italian Lentils in a bowl and spoon

Trust me, friends, you will want to make this filling and satisfying lentil recipe. Once you do, it will be a recipe go-to!

Lentil Variety

Brown and green lentils are typically used to make this stew, as they are firm and retain their shape when cooking.

Red or yellow lentils are softer and cook faster. For this soup, they tend to fall apart and sort of dissolve into the soup. You can still use the orange variety, but it will change the consistency.

Italian Lentils Childhood Memory…

I remember in 7th grade when I went to my friend’s house to spend my first New Year away from my family.

I brought my little box of lentils ready to eat to keep the tradition.

My friends made fun of me and asked what “in the heck” I was eating. I didn’t let their mocking get in the way of eating my lentils.

I knew in my heart it was worth keeping the tradition; in the end, I would be blessed with good fortune :).

It never hurts to stick out like a sore thumb to keep your core values! You will never regret making the decision that makes your heart most happy.

lentils on a plate with bread

Eat Lentils all Year for Good Health…

Lentils contain a lot of fiber and protein. They are delicious topped with eggs, eaten as a vegetarian ragu, served on top of crusty bread, served on top of a green salad, and more!

Don’t let New Year be the only time you make these classic Italian lentils. Keep up the good luck all year!

Health Benefits of Lentils

Lentils are considered a superfood.

They are an excellent source of B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. They’re also a great source of plant-based protein and fiber. Try adding them to your diet.

Another way I enjoy lentils is over a thick slice of hearty bread and a fried egg. You can make this a breakfast/ brunch item OR a tasty dinner!

Try this recipe Lentils Toast with Fried Egg Tasty lentil stew scooped over hearty bread and topped with a perfectly cooked egg are your brunch and dinner dreams! Simple, nutritious, and delicious. Don’t wait to make it. 

Italian Lentils in bowl

How to Store Cooked Lentils

Lentils are a great make-ahead meal! After lentils are cooked: cover and refrigerate within two hours of cooking.

Dried lentils that have been cooked can be kept in the fridge for 5-7 days or frozen for up to 6 months.

Label with the date and store in an air-tight container made for freezing food. Having lentils in the freezer makes them easy to add to any meal.

The bay leaf and herbs add a savory flavor that makes this dish hearty and delicious!

From my Cucina (kitchen) to your table!

Made with Amore, Elena

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lentils on a plate with bread

Italian Lentils- New Years Classic

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5 from 16 reviews

Italian Lentil Soup Recipe: Simply Delicious. This hearty Italian Lentil Recipe is not only easy to make but healthy and delicious as well. One bowl is never enough!  It’s also great served in other ways! See notes…

  • Total Time: 40 min
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 1 1/2 cups (250 grams) dried brown lentils
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 sprig of rosemary
  • 1 sprig of thyme
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 pinch salt
  • A handful of flat-leaf parsley, chopped for serving

Instructions

  1. Place the onion, carrot, and celery in a large saucepan or soup pot with 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Sauté gently on low heat until the vegetables are very soft and the onion is somewhat translucent, but not colored. Add the bay leaf, rosemary, thyme, tomato paste, dry lentils, and 5 cups of water.
  2. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down to a gentle simmer and cook until the lentils are tender but retain their shape (this can take as little as 20 minutes to upwards of 35 minutes, depending on the lentils. I know that seems like a big time difference but all dried beans cook a little differently).
  3. Keep checking them and add more water if necessary. Add salt to taste only once the lentils are tender, otherwise, they will remain tough. Stir through the chopped parsley and serve as you like (see notes for ideas).

Notes

Lentils are delicious topped with eggs, eaten as a vegetarian ragu, served on top of crusty bread, served on top of a green salad and more! Don’t let New Years be the only time you make these classic Italian lentils. Keep up the good luck all year around!

  • Author: Elena
  • Prep Time: 5 min
  • Cook Time: 35 min
  • Category: Savory
  • Method: Italian
  • Cuisine: Italian

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About Elena

My dream is to share delicious wholesome recipes that you will share around the table with all your loved ones. The memories surrounded by food are the heart and soul of CucinaByElena.

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37 Comments

  1. Loved it!! Based on others comments, I did add some chicken broth and Parmesan Cheese. Will definitely make again.






  2. Simply and delicious- This recipe is easy to follow and is full of flavor. Great for welcoming in a new year or for a chilly winter evening.






  3. This recipe was amazing! So easy to make and full of flavor! This will be a family staple for years to come! Thanks Elena for sharing!






  4. I just made this today. I am 98% Italian but for some reason did not know about this tradition growing up. 😱
    I am not a huge brown lentil lover so increased the number of carrots and celery to 3 each which made it more flavorful for me. A bit of Parmesan sprinkled on it before serving made it very delicious. I will definitely be making this again. Thank you Elena!😃