Lentil purée with croutons and escarole… sort of…

Some time ago a friend gave me a subscription to a great food magazine called La Cucina Italiana.  If feasible I try to make at least a couple things from each issue.  The last issue has a whole bunch of really good ideas.  Last night I made a soup, listed as Lentichie in vellutata con crostini e scarola, or lentil purée  with croutons and escarole.

Except… the store didn’t have any escarole.  So I used a flashy on sale purple kale instead.

Lentils are a great winter dish.  And super cheap.

I started with a cup, and rinsed them.

In a medium sized pan I softened up a half cup of finely chopped onion in olive oil.

Add your lentils and a couple cups of vegetable broth and a cup of water.

Cook for 40 minutes.   Put it through a blender or food processor in small batches.  You might keep some broth handy if it is too thick.  Return it to the pan and adjust the flavor with salt and pepper if you need to.  I don’t have a large food processor, so I used a blender.

In the meantime, in 350F oven make some croutons from good crusty bread.  I got a small loaf of one of those warm-it-at-home breads with some garlic it.  I cut some pieces and put them on a pizza stone.

In the meantime, I cut up the science fiction vegetable and put it into a frying pan with some olive oil, and wilted it down.

I really wanted the escarole, but… oh well.  I think you could also do very well with baby bok choy.

Out come the croutons.

Put it together. 

There were still some bubbles from the blending process, but it was still hot and I was hungry… so…

This made 4 servings.

A patient reheating before serving will get rid of the bubbles and escarole will make it look less Klingon.

Also, you could add more liquid for a thinner soup or leave it thick and use it almost like a sauce.

The texture was velvety.  It was a very nice, almost-makes-itself cold weather meal.

I will probably also try the vellutata di cavolfiore next, which is garnished with leek and veal, and then the crema di fagioli e orzo.  There is also an interesting one from carrot with little fish-meatballs.  If I can get some mussels on sale I will for sure try the squash purée with mussles.

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. MrsHall says:

    Looks great, Father. I love making lentil-this and lentil-that during the cold months and I am always looking for new recipes. I will go for the escarole… not sure if the “science fiction” kale would make my kids love it or recoil in shock. :)

  2. I’ll be making this Lentil Soup with Klingon Kale later this week. My teens both thought the purple kale looked great.
    Thank you-

  3. lucy says:

    What’s wrong with Klingon kale ? Looks great !! We’ve been enjoying the original Star Trek my hubby bought with gift certificates, both the first season and the second. Our kids are lovin’ it !!

    Thanks for sharing your cooking – I’ve been hoping for some colorful photos for a while now.

  4. dcs says:

    No butternut (or acorn) squash soup?

  5. dcs: Did you see that I mentioned squash in the entry above?

  6. Girgadis says:

    I never gave lentils a thought until I had a Moroccan lentil soup that called for soaking the lentils, then sauteeing them with onion and garlic and then pureeing the whole mixture, seasoned with cumin and lemon juice. Now, your lentil soup has your signature look with beautiful rustic-cut vegetables. Incidentally, tonight I tried using one of those clever little rotiserie chicken oven pans that has a spring-like rack that you insert inside the chicken and then lock into place. The skin came out perfect but the pan isn’t deep enough to catch all the juices that the chicken spits out. Any ideas?

  7. wanda says:

    One can hardly go wrong with lentils and dried beans as far as health food goes. No fat, minimal calories, they lower your cholesterol, etc. They are economical, as well.

    Lovely pictures. That is some neon purple kale, for sure. Another healthy eating tip..the more colors on your plate, the better for you.

  8. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Girgadis: put the whole pan into a bigger deeper one, so the overflow is caught?

  9. Wow! Great gift! I used to pick up individual copies at B&N in DT Minneapolis. Some really good recipes in there.

  10. Tina in Ashburn says:

    Father, thanks, looks great! I’m not crazy about lentils [probably related to early childhood traumatization of bad lentil cooking LOL] and I would like to see more versions. The recipes I find just don’t appeal to me, but this one does.

    I had tender delicious lentils in a local wine bar and the chef sent word back, after my query, that he soaks em in white wine for about 30 minutes. But I’ve also read that acid applied too soon to beans toughens them. My impression of lentils are usually badly cooked, tough…kinda like pencil erasers. Erasers being more flavorful.

    Blending/pureeing lentils would break them down certainly, but I sure would like to hear more thoughts on making these things edible.

    In the south, kale and such greens are eaten with vinegar traditionally. My research revealed that these kinds of greens are more nutritionally available when eaten with vinegar. I guess white wine would work too.

    I’m printing off this recipe of yours!

  11. catholicmidwest says:

    I’m all about Klingon veggies and croutons, yum, but not sure about the lentil stuff, although I like hummus with garlic. Similar?

  12. Elizabeth1 says:

    Father, have you considered purchasing an immersion blender? Makes the job of pureeing a soup tons easier and much less messy. Just pop the blender in your pot and blend! No moving a hot soup from one container to another.

    Here is a link to see one: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immersion_blender

  13. Elizabeth: I have one of those, actually. I forget about it! I don’t use it as often as I might because it has an inconvenient cord. I would prefer a cordless version. I would probably use it more frequently.

  14. catholic midwest: Insofar as chickpeas and lentils are different critters, I would say no. But if you were to use some chickpea and perhaps potato, that might be quite good. Let us know.

  15. Tina in Ashburn says:

    i have a powerful Bamix immersion blender [Swiss?] on a cord that i use frequently. The cord doesn’t bother me but maybe that’s because the outlets are conveniently placed all over my kitchen.

    Father I’ve never found anything cordless that works as well as the corded. Have you?

    The immersion blender does puree, but not as well as the food processor. According to a review I read somewhere, the blender purees better than anything. Go figger.

  16. KarenLH says:

    “Father, have you considered purchasing an immersion blender? Makes the job of pureeing a soup tons easier and much less messy.”

    Unless, of course, one is new at using the device and not quite clear on the necessity not to pull the stick blender out of the soup while it is still running. It is really astonishing how far split pea soup can travel.

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