Crema di lenticchie ai funghi trifolati

Frankprimi piatti, Soups32 Comments

Crema di lenticchie ai funghi trifolati (Cream of Lentil Soup with Mushrooms)

I love all kinds of legumes, but lentils are probably my favorite. Pasta e lenticchie was my favorite pasta growing up, and even now, into my sixth decade of this mortal coil, the love affair hasn’t cooled one bit. There’s something about that earthy taste I find tremendously satisfying and yes, comforting, especially in down-home pasta and rice dishes or paired with the richly unctuous sausage called cotechino.

But the humble lentil also gets along nicely with ‘fancy’ ingredients like butter and cream. In this gussied up version of a rustic lentil and mushroom soup, crema di lenticchie con funghi trifolati, the lentils are puréed, enriched with cream, garnished with paper-thin sautéed mushrooms and drizzled with rosemary-and-garlic scented olive oil. It’s an elegant yet comforting first course for your holiday or other important dinner. Or even for a light supper when you’re feeling like something a little special.

Ingredients

For the lentil purée:

  • 1-2 shallots, finely minced
  • Olive oil
  • 1 Tb Butter
  • 250g (1/2 lb) dried lentils
  • 1 potato (optional)
  • 1 liter (4 cups) broth or water (more if needed)
  • 250ml (1 cup) heavy cream
  • Salt and pepper

For the mushroom garnish:

  • 250g (8 oz) mushrooms, finely sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • A sprig or two of fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced

To finish the dish:

  • Olive oil
  • A clove of garlic
  • A sprig of fresh rosemary

To serve:

  • Grilled or fried bread

Directions

In a large pot, sauté the shallots gently in olive oil and a knob of butter, just until soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and mix. Let the lentils simmer gently, mixing from time to time, for a minute or two.

Add the broth or water. Simmer for about an hour, or until perfectly tender, adding more liquid if needed. (Lentils, like all legumes, absorb a great deal of liquid as they cook.)

Purée the lentils until smooth. (For this, the easiest method is to use a hand mixer directly in the pot, but you can also transfer the lentils to a blender or food processor, or—in the old fashioned way— pass them through a food mill and return them to the pot.)

Mix in the heavy cream and simmer the purée for a few minutes longer, to allow the flavors to meld. Let it simmer if it needs to thicken up. If it’s too thick for your taste, on the other hand, add some more broth or water.

While the lentils are cooking, brown the sliced mushrooms in garlic and oil, following our directions for making funghi trifolati. When they are nicely browned, remove them from the heat and sprinkle with the parsley.

In a separate small saucepan, very gently heat some olive oil (say around a quarter-cup) with a clove of garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Let the oil infuse for about 2-3 minutes and turn off the heat.

To serve, lay most of the slices of mushrooms down at the bottom of soup tureen (or in individual bowls as pictured), then ladle over the lentil purée. Garnish the top with the rest of the mushrooms, then drizzle everything with the infused oil and sprinkle with fresh parsley for color if you like

Serve with slices of grilled or fried bread.

Crema di lenticchie ai funghi trifolati

Notes

The choice of lentils will make the dish, but this treatment lends itself to just about any variety. The classic choice in Italy would be the famous lenticchia di Castelluccio di Norcia from Umbria, which enjoys an IGP designation. (Italy also has a number of other fine lentil varietals, although those from Castelluccio are the most famous.) I also think the French Puy lentils are lovely made like this. (Indeed, one of the most delicious cream of lentils soups I’ve ever had, garnished with seared fois gras, was in Paris.) But even your everyday brown lentil from the supermarket would work well, as would more ‘exotic’ red or yellow lentils. Indeed, since the lentils are puréed, there’s no particular need for lentils that keep their shape, which tend to be the more expensive ones.

The broth can be beef or chicken as you prefer—personally I think beef pairs with lentils rather better than chicken—and for the best flavor homemade, although the lentils and other flavorings are such that you could get away with store-bought in a pinch. If you’re opting for a vegetarian dish, use vegetable broth or just water. In the latter case, I’d up the seasonings and perhaps add another shallot to the soffritto at the beginning.

Making Ahead

The lentil purée can be made ahead of time and refrigerated (or frozen) until you’re ready to cook. The mushroom garnish could be made ahead as well, although for best results I’d make it last minute, as I would the infused oil.

Crema di lenticchie ai funghi trifolati

Cook Time1 hr 30 mins
Course: Primo
Cuisine: Italian
Keyword: mushroom, soup, vegetarian

Ingredients

For the lentil puree

  • 1-2 1-2 shallots finely minced
  • olive oil
  • 1 Tb butter
  • 250g 1/2 lb dried lentils
  • 1 potato cut into dice (optional)
  • 1 liter 4 cups broth or water more if needed
  • 250ml 1 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper

For the mushroom garnish

  • 250g 8 oz mushrooms finely sliced
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • olive oil
  • salt and pepper
  • 1-2 sprigs fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely minced

To finish the dish

  • 125ml 1/2 cup Olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary

To serve

  • Grilled or fried bread

Instructions

  • In a large pot, sauté the shallots gently in olive oil and a knob of butter, just until soft and fragrant. Add the lentils and mix. Let the lentils simmer gently, mixing from time to time, for a minute or two.
  • Add the broth or water. Simmer for about an hour, or until perfectly tender, adding more liquid if needed. (Lentils, like all legumes, absorb a great deal of liquid as they cook.)
  • Purée the lentils until smooth. (For this, the easiest method is to use a hand mixer directly in the pot, but you can also transfer the lentils to a blender or food processor, or—in the old fashioned way— pass them through a food mill and return them to the pot.)
  • Mix in the heavy cream and simmer the purée for a few minutes longer, to allow the flavors to meld. Let it simmer if it needs to thicken up. If it's too thick for your taste, on the other hand, add some more broth or water.
  • While the lentils are cooking, brown the sliced mushrooms in garlic and oil, following our directions for making funghi trifolati. When they are nicely browned, remove them from the heat and sprinkle with the parsley.
  • In a separate small saucepan, very gently heat some olive oil (say around a quarter-cup) with a clove of garlic and a sprig of fresh rosemary. Let the oil infuse for about 2-3 minutes and turn off the heat.
  • To serve, lay most of the slices of mushrooms down at the bottom of soup tureen (or in individual bowls as pictured), then ladle over the lentil purée. Garnish the top with the rest of the mushrooms, then drizzle everything with the infused oil and sprinkle with fresh parsley for color if you like.
  • Serve with slices of grilled or fried bread.

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32 Comments on “Crema di lenticchie ai funghi trifolati”

  1. Frank, unlike you I didn’t love the lentil soup our family ate weekly in winter! As an adult, I think my taste buds changed and I now love lenticchie! I do think that your crema di lenticchie would be ever more delicious.

    1. Thanks so much, Marcellina. Yes, it’s funny how our tastes change over time, especially between childhood and adulthood. I do sometime wonder why…

  2. I must admit that I’m not familiar with this dish, Frank. However, I do enjoy lentils in soup…I’ve just never had them pureed like this. We’re heading into full-fledged soup season here, and I want to put this on the menu. I like my soups to have some ‘body’ to them when they are serving as the main course. The pureed version would do just that! I can imagine all of the flavor tied up in just one spoonful. Yum!

    1. It is pretty tasty, David. If you like lentils, I think you’d really like this soup.The puréeing gives is really intense lentil flavor. Enjoy! And Happy New Year!

  3. Lovely recipe, Frank. I love lentils too, which I guess is almost inevitable for someone who grew up in Umbria 😉 Thank you for the pointer to the article on other varieties of Italian lentils (to the list I’d also add the black lentils from Enna). Happy New Year!

  4. Hoping you and yours have a wondrous holiday season and the very best for the coming year ! Many thanks for your wonderful posts during the year past . . .

  5. making dessert or main meal is so difficult on weekend because they always want something new and this site is my hack lol thanks for making different recipes i can copy lol 🙂

  6. I recently made a very similar soup for a dinner party and thought about adding lentils but the dinner was heavy and I worried that it might be too much. I still have some of the soup leftover and hope to make it into a mousse using puréed chestnuts for a course during our New Years Eve celebrations!
    Sorry I’ve bee AWOL but we just returned from a month-plus in Arizona! We had three sets of friends join us for 5-6 days each! It was definitely whirlwind but super fun! Now I need a vacation! Merry Christmas, to you and your partner and we hope you have a wonderful new year that’s filled with good health and much happiness!

  7. This will definitely merit a place in our soup rotation! Just made a smoky, spicy lentil soup with Spanish chorizo and had my love of these legumes renewed! Buon Natale e un Felice Anno Nuovo!

  8. Holy lentils! This looks/sounds phenomenal! I just bought a big bag of really nice (organic) lentils and will definitely be trying this when I get back from visiting my parents. I know they’re going to love it, too. Do you think half and half would be okay instead of full cream?

  9. Your cup of lentil and mushroom soup looks so inviting. I love lentils cooked in any fashion, but soup is likely my favorite. I’ve pinned this recipe as I think I’ll be needing such a soup after the holidays.

  10. Such a nice dish! We eat lentils — and soup — a lot, and I really like the addition of mushrooms and cream to basic lentil soup. Terrific recipe — thanks.

  11. Oh my goodness that is a lovely bowl of soup. I initially thought it was all mushroom. Lentils are a favorite here, but also white beans. Since discovering fancy lentils (like Le Puy) I haven’t pureed lentils for years, because I love how they hold their shape so well. So now I have to rethink that! Love the mushrooms and toppings. Merry Christmas!

    1. Worth a try, Mimi! Those Puy lentils also have wonderful flavor as you know, that works nicely in a purée. Merry Christmas to you and yours as well!

  12. This looks so good, Frank, I can almost smell it cooking from across the Atlantic. Have a wonderful Christmas and a happy New Year. Warmest best wishes, Linda x

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