Lentil Soup with Pasta and Mint
Based on a traditional recipe from Astypalaia, an island of the Dodecanese.
4 cups water
1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 bay leaf
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped red onions
1/21 teaspoon Aleppo pepper or pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups Chicken Stock or Vegetable Stock
1/3 cup stellini, small orzo or other tiny pasta shape or 2/3 cup crushed vermicelli
freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup chopped fresh mint, plus a few leaves for garnish
extra-virgin olive oil
sweet Greek vinegar, such as Kalamata vinegar, or balsamic vinegar
1. In a large pot, we combine the water, the lentils and the bay leaf and we bring to a boil.
2. We reduce the heat to low and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
3. We drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. We discard the bay leaf.
4. We wipe out the pot with paper towels.
5. We heat the oil in the pot and saute the onions with the Aleppo pepper or pepper flakes over medium heat until soft, about 5 minutes.
6. We add the lentils and saute for 1 minute.
7. We add the reserved cooking liquid, the stock and we salt to taste, bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. ]
8. We return the broth to boiling, we add the pasta, we increase the heat to medium and we cook for 8 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente.
9. We taste and adjust the seasonings, adding a few grindings of black pepper. We stir in the mint.
10. We ladle the soup into bowls, we drizzle oil and a little vinegar over each serving and we garnish with the mint leaves.