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zuppa di lenticchie e farro


I don’t blog about cooking or recipes very often – I’m not a confident cook and don’t experiment a great deal. But I love soup and lately have become obsessed with finding a great lentil soup recipe.

Primarily, this is because I recently discovered that lentils pack an enormous amount of iron as well as protein. I was recently diagnosed as being beyond anaemic—my doctor discovered the iron levels in my blood were so low as to be almost non-existent. No wonder my lips have been white for the past several years. I thought I was just aging badly.

So – among many other things, including heavy iron supplements and more beef – I’ve been paying much more attention to lentils. I like lentils, and my friend Letizia suggested this recipe, which I tried on Sunday.

The taste is fantastic, the recipe was incredibly simple, and it also includes one of my favourite new foods, farro – a grain from Umbria. I think it is related to spelt.

But, I’m not sure that I’m preparing it correctly, because after 30 minutes of simmering, the broth for my soup was almost entirely absorbed by the grain and the lentils. The texture wasn’t unpleasant at all, but I tend to think of soup as being ..... soupy. I must check with Letizia, to see if this is typical of Umbrian soups.

But I would highly recommend the recipe, the zuppa was tasty and filling, a full meal in itself.


1 large onion, sliced thin
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1-2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 cup/250 gr. small brown whole lentils
1 cup/250 gr. farro (or spelt)
parsley, finely chopped
4 cups/ 1 lt. water or vegetable or chicken stock
1 large garlic clove, halved lengthwise
1/2 slice toasted Italian crusty bread/person
1 tablespoon freshly grated Parmesan/person

In a 4-quart heavy saucepan make a “soffritto” by softening the onion in olive oil over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until pale golden. Add ginger and stir for 1 min. Add lentils and spelt (farro), hot water or stock and simmer, stirring occasionally, until soup is thickened and lentils are soft but still retaining their shape, about 30 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper only when cooked.

At this stage the cooled soup can be frozen. When ready to serve defrost, add some water - it will be quite solid – and bring to a low boil.

Toast bread slices, rub generously with fresh garlic and then cut them into small cubes. Ladle the soup into soup bowls, scatter over each bowl the chopped parsley, bread cubes , a teaspoon of good extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of Parmesan. Serve immediately.

Comments (10)


Sounds like a great combo. And yes, I'd say there needs to be more liquid for that amount of grains.


Oh that does sound delicious! I am a big fan of soup too, and love lentils. Another one for the "must try" pile! I love your dish (what I can see of it)...one of your Umbrian collection?

Not good to hear of the anaemia, but glad you've gotten it diagnosed so you can do something about it. Am I mistaken, or do leafy greens also pack iron?

Hi Sandra, sorry to hear about the iron deficiency. I didn't know that lentils were a good source of it, and I eat them a lot! This looks like a great soup. I've discovered that some beans absorb more water than others, might be their age and how dry they are, so sometimes I add more stock or water than a recipe calls for. I need to track down some farro so I can make this.

My mouth is watering. Thank you and Letizia for sharing this - she has the greatest recipes! m


Hi Amy, I think you're right!

Anne, that IS one of my Umbria ceramics. I love them and use them every day.

You're right about dark greens, especially spinach, being high in iron. I eat a spinach salad most days at lunch -- with lots of citrus fruit (which apparently is necessary to help with the absorption of iron from the spinach)

Annie, I wouldn't have thought of lentils as being high in iron -- they seem to be a wonder food! Low fat, high protein, great taste.....

Hi menehune, Letizia's recipes are fantastic, aren't they?

This sounds really good and your dish looks very Italian and beautiful. I would think that it would need more water, but maybe it is meant to be more thick and less soupy, and I imagine the taste is divine anyway.

Sorry to hear about your anemia. Take your supplements and eat well until you reverse it, and they keep taking the supplements and eating well to keep your iron in control.


Hi Candi, thanks very much!

Sandra: Just thought I'd let you know I made this yesterday while I had a day off from work due to forecasted snow. Seemed like a good choice - and it was! Delicious - less watery than a regular soup - agree that it's a meal unto itself. Once again - mahalo, m


menehune, that's great -- I'm glad it worked out! (And a good way to spend a snow day!)

Letizia will be pleased, she likes feedback on her recipes.

So sorry to hear about your iron deficiency. How scary that you have had this for a while and did not know it. Glad it was diagnosed. This looks like a great recipe.

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