The small town of Villalba in central Sicily is especially famous for its lentils, which are plump and green and hold their shape while cooking. Ustica, a small island about 40 miles (65 km) off the coast of Palermo, is prized for another variety that is more brown than green and quite small. Both work very well in this rustic soup. A bit of potato is added to help thicken it, but a handful of dried pasta or rice could be used instead.
Dive more into Sicilian recipes with The Food of Sicily by Fabrizia Lanza.
Looking for other comforting cold weather soup recipes? Here are some favorites
Minestra di Lenticchie: Sicilian Lentil Soup
- 2 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
- ¼ cup 60 ml olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2 small carrots, chopped
- 1 tomato, peeled and chopped, or 1 tablespoon estratto (sun-dried tomato paste) or other good-quality tomato paste
- 2 bay leaves
- Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
- 2 cups 400 g lentils
- 1 small potato, peeled and coarsely chopped
- 2½ quarts 2.5 L water
- chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for serving
- In a medium pot, cook the garlic in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant and golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the onion and carrots and stir to coat with the oil. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are beginning to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the tomato and bay leaves and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Season with ½ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Add the lentils, potato, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, partially cover, and cook gently until the lentils are tender and the soup has thickened, 1½ to 2 hours. Taste and adjust the seasonings.
- Serve the soup drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with chopped parsley.
Excerpted from The Food of Sicily by Fabrizia Lanza (Artisan Books). Copyright © 2023.