Simple, fragrant dishes call to the senses and evoke the ancients.
Bay leaves and lentils are staple ingredients in Greek cooking. This nourishing, low-fat soup can be a whole meal served with pita bread, wedges of feta cheese, and some Kalamata olives.
• 1 1/2 cups dried lentils
• 8 cups (2 quarts) water, vegetable broth, or fat-free chicken broth
• 2 cups tomatoes, chopped (fresh or canned)
• 2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
• 2 carrots, peeled and diced
• 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
• 1 zucchini, diced
• 2 fresh bay leaves
• 1 tablespoon dried Greek oregano
• 1 teaspoon honey (preferably Greek)
• 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1/4 cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped
• 2 cups small pasta shells (or elbows)
Pick through the lentils to remove any debris or foreign objects. Rinse them well in cold water.
Place all of the ingredients except the parsley and pasta in a 6-quart heavy pot. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for about 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and set aside. When the soup is done, stir in the pasta and parsley. Remove and discard the bay leaves. Divide the soup among six soup bowls. Serve immediately.
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