A warm and comforting soup based on pasta e lenticchie, which is often made with just ditalini, but broken spaghetti or capellini, or pasta mista are also common. This recipe uses ditalini, but adds farfallini and fideo for variety. This is ‘soupier’ than the traditional dish and makes a small bowl for 4 or a larger bowl for 2. Double the pasta for something more traditional and filling or serve with fresh baked bread sticks as shown here.
For the pasta
6T semolina flour
1t plant-only egg replacer
2-3T lukewarm water
For the lentils
1 cup water, and 2T water, separated
1/2 cup brown lentils (black, green or dupuy will also work)
1 ‘sprig’ dried kombu, about 1″
2 scallions, minced, 3″ – 4″ green reserved for garnish
1/4t coarse sea salt
1/2t dried basil, rubbed
1/4t dried oregano, rubbed
1/4t dried thyme, rubbed
A pinch dried rosemary, rubbed
A pinch dried marjoram, rubbed
A pinch dried red chilis and/or 1/4t black pepper, freshly cracked
1T lemon juice
2 cups vegetable stock
2 cups tomato passata (or puree)
1 cup shredded green cabbage
1 cup green curly kale, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup nutritional yeast
2T fresh basil, chopped finely or chiffonade
Coarse sea salt and black pepper to taste
Optional: Add a teaspoon coconut sugar (or similar) if you like with the other herbs for a little more balanced flavour. Spinach would be more traditional than cabbage and kale, but chard would also make a nice alternative. Saute the scallions, et al., in a little cooking oil instead of water, or finish the dish with a little drizzled olive oil for a richer taste and mouthfeel. Replace the lentils with chickpeas or white beans.
Start the lentils, then make the pasta.
In a large frying pan with a lid, bring 1 cup water to a light simmer. Add the lentils and kombu. Cover, simmer for 30 minutes until they are fully cooked but still al dente.
While the lentils simmer, combine the dry ingredients for the pasta, add the water and knead until you have a smooth, elastic dough. If you knead for 2 – 3 minutes and the dough is still a bit dry, add more water, 1 teaspoon at a time, but give it a few minutes. When smooth, cover with a warm wet tea towel and let rest about 15 minutes.
When the dough has rested, prepare and cut the pasta shapes you’d like. See the notes below on how to make the particular shapes. Your lentils should be about ready by the time you are finished with the pasta. Drain, reserving the kombu. Set the lentils and kombu aside.
Warm the pan on medium heat. Add the 2T water, scallion, garlic and herbs. Stir fry for about 2-3 minutes. Add the cabbage and stir fry for another 3 – 5 minutes. Add the lemon and deglaze the pan. Add the stock and 1 cup passata. Return the lentils to the pan.
Return the pan to a light simmer, reduce heat to medium low and simmer 10 minutes. Remove the kombu. Add the kale and stir to combine. Return the pan to a light boil.
Add the farfallini and ditalini and simmer 3 – 4 minutes. Wait a minute or two before adding the fideo. Add the remaining passata and return the pan to a simmer. Simmer another 5 minutes or so until the pasta is done. Remove from heat.
Add the nutritional yeast and stir to combine. Season to taste. To plate, ladle out and garnish with scallion green sliced on an angle, basil, and some additional nutritional yeast if you like and serve.
Making the pasta
Any or all of these shapes will go well in this dish. I also use ricciolini from time to time. Toast or fry the fideo if you like. You can also use boxed pasta, but you may want to parboil separately depending on what you use.
For farfallini, roll out the a large rectangle about 1/8″ thick. Cut 3/4″ x 1/3″ rectangles (smaller if you can). The ends of farfallini are often rounded, but rectangles will be much easier. Working quickly, pinch each strip firmly in the middle with the edges of your thumbs. If you want to make them even smaller, you can always try a pair of tweezers. Let dry on the board.
For ditalini, you’ll either require a dowel or something similar (something long, round and needle-like, but even in diameter). Roll the dough out to about 1/6″ and cut into 4″ x 1/2″ strips. Wrap the dough width-wise around the dowel and pinch closed (so that you have a long, 4″ tube).
Roll gently on the cutting board to create long, even tubes, about 1/3″ in diameter. Slide off the dowel and repeat. If your dowel/dowel replacement is long enough, do longer pieces of dough. Let each dry on the board.
For fideo, some people simply use broken spaghetti, although traditionally, fideo is actually a Spanish noodle and has a slight curve. If you have a lot of experience with chiffonade or julienne, this won’t be a difficult shape.
Roll the dough into a rectangle about 1/8″ thick (thinner if you can). Cut into long rectangular strips about 1 1/2″ high by several inches long. Carefully and precisely cut 1/8″ strips. Roll each strip gently with a few fingers to round it. Either curve each strip a little and let dry on the board, or gently arrange on a curved glass and let dry there.
When ready, add to the soup as directed