"Lucchese" Soup with Lentils, Wheat Berries and Amaranth

Tonight I felt like I needed a little bit of home. I usually like to explore new tastes and since I have changed my diet I have been experimenting quite a lot with new flavors, but tonight I needed something that would bring me back home to Tuscany. One of the typical local foods of Lucca is Farro soup with lentils. Farro is a delicious kind of wheat, a more ancient variety of red wheat and if you can find it and want to spend a little extra, by all means I encourage you to try it. I had red wheat berries at home so I used those instead. The result was exactly what I needed: as warm in my stomach as it was in my heart. Most of the ingredients I used are staples in my house, that's why the herbs are dried rather than fresh, but if you have fresh herbs even better. The anchovies have a very important function: they add saltiness and umami-ness to the dish, and you can't actually taste them at the end. In the traditional italian soup some kind of pancetta or bacon is often used to impart smokiness and fattiness to the whole soup, I decided to use the anchovies instead and they worked great. Make sure to use the oil packed kind and not the salted kind, I usually find them in the Italian aisle of my supermarket. I also used three different kinds of lentils because I had only a little bit left from each package. I think the end result was very pretty and pleasant, but if you only want to use one lentil I think a green or a brown lentil would work as well. 

Lucchese Soup with Lentils, Wheat Berries and Amaranth by http://vegan-plus-fish.blogspot.com/

Total Calories: 469, Fat: 10g (1.4 saturated), Fiber:15g, Protein: 19g

Ingredients: (for 4 bowls)

1 cup of wheat berries (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of brown lentils (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of green lentils (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of red lentils (soaked overnight)
1/4 cup of Amaranth
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
4 medium carrots, diced
3 celery stalks, chopped
1-2 bay leaves
1 whole clove
2 teaspoons of paprika
2 tablespoons of tomato paste
1 tablespoon of dried thyme
1 tablespoon of dried sage 
1 vegetable bouillon
2-3 anchovies fillets (oil packed)* for a vegan version just skip the anchovies
2 green onions (for garnish)

Soaking ( at least 12 hours):

Wheat needs to be soaked overnight before you cook it and I actually found that the longer you soak it the better. When it soaks long enough the grains become nice and soft and loose all of the chewiness factor that some people (aka my husband) dislike. While lentils don't really need to soak I decided to soak them anyway as I read it helps with the uncomfortable side effects (gassy ones) some of us experience with legumes. I thought the lentils where particularly tender and there was no bitterness to them so I would recommend soaking them. Do not put them in the same bowl as the wheat though since you will have to add them separately to your recipe.


In a dutch oven or large pot put the oil, the garlic, the onion, the carrot, the celery the bay leaves and the clove and cook for 5-8 minutes until the onion is starting to become translucent and the carrots are starting to soften.

Add the paprika, the tomato paste, the thyme and the sage as well as a generous pinch of salt and keep stirring over medium low fire to let the vegetables absorb the flavor of the spices. 

Add the anchovy fillets and smashed them with the wooden spoon to the bottom of the pot to make sure they kind of melt into your soup base.

Add the drained wheat to the pot and stir well to coat the wheat with the vegetables and the spices. Cook for another 2-3 minutes.

soup base for Lucchese Soup with Lentils, Wheat Berries and Amaranth by http://vegan-plus-fish.blogspot.com/

Add 4 cups of water and the vegetable bouillon.

Bring the water to a simmer and then add the lentils and the rinsed Amaranth. Cover and cook for about 30 minutes.

Uncover and taste, let cook a little longer uncovered if too liquid or add more water if too solid. It should not be too soupy however but rather solid.

Garnish with chopped green onion to add a little bit of a fresh crunch (optional).

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