Soups, Stews and Sandwiches, Vegan/Vegetarian

Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup)

Nicoletta February 20, 2019

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Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup) is a classic dish of the Italian cuisine. Rustic, simple and packed with nutrients, it is a healthy comfort food that warms up your body and soul. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, Rice and Lentil Soup is perfect for winter but appreciated all year long.

Song of the day: Guardian – Alanis Morrisette

riso e lenticchie

Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup) is one of those dishes that has accompanied me through the years. However it is made by different members of my big Italian family oftentimes, with recipes changing from house to house. It is a wholesome, fast and simple soup but rich in substance. Pure comfort, it warms up your body and soul.

 

 

Grandma’s Kitchen

When people compare my cooking and baking to Grandma’s kitchen, I bow humbly, smile blushing, and consider it the best compliment ever. It is an achievement for me, a goal, to cook like a grandma. To bring comfort, love, and warmth with my ‘homey’ food.

“My grandma is the best cook ever”

You hear that a lot. Almost all the grandmas in the world seem to possess the “cooking gene”.  As a matter of fact, most kids love grandma’s food, they get pampered, spoiled and given all the foods they like.

I was certainly spoiled and given good food. I was taught to like all the foods, especially the healthy ones, but never forced to eat anything I disliked. And when I showed a certain fondness for a particular dish, my nonna made sure to make it for me. All. The. Time. The vegetables I liked best: sauteed greens, peas, roasted potatoes. The tomato sauces I loved the most, like the simple pomodoro e basilico with an egg cooked inside the sauce, or the vegetarian ragù with peas. The fresh pasta she made so well, especially her incredible fettuccine, and the pillowy gnocchi, another success story. Her wonderful soups: pasta e fagioli, pasta e ceci, pasta e patate, riso e lenticchie.

riso e lenticchie

Dried legumes

My family has always taken the longer route when cooking legumes. As a result, they start from dried organic pulses, soak them for a few hours or overnight, then cook them on the stove with some herbs before utilizing them in their dishes. Consequently, I guess their model makes me reach for the dried legumes when I buy them, instead of the canned ones (however I do not disdain the good organic legumes in a glass jar).

Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup)

Rice and Lentil Soup is a healthy and nutritionally complete dish that combines cereals and legumes with taste and lightness. It is a balanced meal, that can be made vegan, like the one I made here, or vegetarian, by the ones who like to top it with a sprinkle of Parmigiano, or “meaty”, for the ones that like to add pancetta or use chicken stock.

The right consistency of this soup is quite soft, not dry like a risotto. It is, however, possible to adjust it to your taste by adding more or less liquid.

Many versions of Rice and Lentils

To tell the truth, in Italy there are as many versions of Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup) as there are cooks. More or less brothy, with more or less tomato sauce, with different herbs, the rice and lentils cooked together or separately.

My aunt, for example, cooks the rice and lentils separately. She dresses the rice with burro e Parmigiano (butter and Parmigiano), then places it as a side to the stewed lentils.

riso e lenticchie

My dad’s version of Riso e Lenticchie

One Saturday late morning, I joined my dad in the kitchen to make Riso e Lenticchie. My mom had soaked the lentils in the morning, then cooked them with a clove of garlic and a rosemary sprig that she picked from a fresh plant on their terrace.

riso e lenticchie

Meanwhile, my dad was making a little sugo, tomato sauce, with the mirepoix of carrots, onion, celery, and a pinch of peperoncino. To that sauce, he then added the precooked lentils and half of the cooking water.

riso e lenticchieriso e lenticchie

He cooked the rice separately, but instead of cooking it all the way through, he only cooked it for half the time and then added it to the sauce and lentils. At this point, the rice and lentils cooked together, they had time to get acquainted and bond, resulting in a thick, delicious soup.

Time to eat!

The living room table nicely set, the TV blasting in the background of a quiet Saturday lunch, my dad brought Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup) to the table and scooped the soup in the bowls, a nice fragrance filling the air. The first spoonful revealed both rice and lentils with that ‘al dente‘ texture we like so much, succulent chunks of carrots mingled in, and a tasty broth with just a hint of spice. So comforting and delicious!

riso e lenticchie

Bring some healthy and nutritious comfort food to your table. Make Riso e Lenticchie, Rice and Lentil Soup Italian-styleSpoonful after spoonful you will feel warmth from the inside out.

Song of the day: Guardian – Alanis Morrisette

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riso e lenticchie

Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup)

  • Author: Nicoletta
  • Prep Time: 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 40 minutes
  • Total Time: 2 hours 55 minutes
  • Yield: 4-5 servings 1x
  • Category: Soups, Vegan
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Description

Riso e Lenticchie (Rice and Lentil Soup) is a classic dish of the Italian cuisine. Rustic, simple and packed with nutrients, it is a healthy comfort food that warms up your body and soul. Naturally vegan and gluten-free, Rice and Lentil Soup is perfect for winter but appreciated all year long.


Ingredients

  • about 250 g dried lentils, soaked for 12 hours
  • about 500 ml water
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 rosemary sprig
  • 23 Tbsp e.v.o. oil
  • 1/4 yellow onion
  • 1/2 carrot
  • 1/2 celery stalk
  • a pinch of peperoncino (chili flakes)
  • about 300 g crushed tomatoes or passata (we used my dad’s homemade passata)
  • 180190 g Carnaroli or Arborio rice (we use Carnaroli)

Instructions

  1. If using dried lentils, soak the lentils in water for 1-2 hours. Rinse and drain.
  2. Cook the lentils on low heat  in double the amount of water with a clove of garlic and a rosemary sprig for about 20 minutes. Add water if necessary. Drain with a slotted spoon, leaving the cooking water aside.
  3. In a saucepan, add the olive oil, minced carrot, onion, celery and a pinch of chili flakes. Saute until softened, for a few minutes.
  4. Add the tomato sauce and cook on low/medium heat for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Add the lentils and half of the cooking water. Stir and turn off heat. Turn the heat on medium a few minutes before you add the rice.
  6. In a pot of salted boiling water over medium heat, add the rice and cook for half of the cooking time (about 10 minutes).
  7. Drain, then add to the saucepan with the lentils/sauce.
  8. Keep cooking until the rice is cooked and lentils are tender and broth reduced.
  9. Turn off heat, let sit for a couple of minutes, then plate.
  10. Buon Appetito!

Notes

The prep time includes the soaking of the lentils for 2 hours. If you are using canned ones, your time will reduce considerably. Start from step 3.

The right consistency of this soup is quite soft, not dry like a risotto. It is, however, possible to adjust it to your taste by adding more or less liquid.

You could also cook the rice together with the lentils. At step 5, add more water and when it boils, add the rice and cook it for the required time.

riso e lenticchie

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24 Comments

  • Avatar
    Reply Gloria February 25, 2019 at 5:22 pm

    Homemade soup is the best. I have been making it weekly now for a month or two. All this cold weather calls for comfort food. Love lentils and this soup sounds delicious. What a hearty meal this would be.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 26, 2019 at 12:04 am

      Thank you, Gloria. Here it hasn’t been that bad, but we still eat soup often, especially with pulses. This is a favorite.

  • Avatar
    Reply Elaine Benoit February 26, 2019 at 6:19 am

    One of the things I most love about your blog is that everything you make reminds me of my grandmother (yup, I said it). 🙂 It’s like you were in my grandmother’s kitchen watching her and then proceeding to make all my favorites!! Your riso e lenticchie looks so delicious!!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 26, 2019 at 7:07 am

      Thank you so much, Elaine! What a compliment! When you think of grandmas, have fuzzy feelings, smile at the fond memories and are filled with warmth. That’s what I want to achieve with my food 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Chef and Steward February 26, 2019 at 2:00 pm

    I make lentil soup all the time but I think my son will love the addition of rice and your other flavour notes here. Thanks for sharing this beautiful heirloom recipe!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 27, 2019 at 12:04 am

      Thank you! Hope you like this soup that has all the hearty Italian flavors!

  • Avatar
    Reply Carrie | Clean Eating Kitchen February 27, 2019 at 9:30 am

    This looks like such a hearty and filling soup that’s full of flavor. I think we’ve got a few more weeks of cold weather, so will be trying this out for sure!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 27, 2019 at 11:24 am

      It is healthy, hearty and so flavorful. We have it any time of the year, even cold 🙂 . Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Denise February 28, 2019 at 11:25 am

    This looks incredible! Such a warm, satisfying and hardy soup! That crusty bread looks amazing as well!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta February 28, 2019 at 1:13 pm

      The bread in Italy is amazing! We love it crusty and with not a lot of crumb. The soup is heartwarming. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Lorie February 28, 2019 at 8:53 pm

    I don’t think I’ve ever had rice and lentils mixed together—always one or the other. Reading this post made me think of my big Italian family and all the food that goes along with them!!! ❤️

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 1, 2019 at 4:54 am

      It is so good together! Hope you try it! Nice to have stirred your wonderful family memories 🙂 .

  • Avatar
    Reply Analida Braeger March 2, 2019 at 6:33 pm

    I am a big fan of hearty winter soups like this, most especially with lentils! Will try this out .

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 2, 2019 at 11:38 pm

      Thank you! Healthy and hearty!

  • Avatar
    Reply Jo March 3, 2019 at 7:11 am

    My day-to-day everyday meal is rice and lentils. Yes I eat it everyday, but only in different form. It’s always refreshing to get to eat your favorite rice and lentils in new and delicious forms. This is just that. I’m definitely trying this recipe soon

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 4, 2019 at 12:32 am

      Wow! Every day! It is indeed healthy and also very tasty, in all different forms.

  • Avatar
    Reply Kiki Johnson March 3, 2019 at 6:15 pm

    I have only ever had Lebanese lentils and rice or Indian-inspired versions! This recipe sounds absolutely lovely with all those Mediterranean spices! LOVE! This needs to be tried!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 4, 2019 at 12:34 am

      There are so many versions of rice and lentils. Our version is pretty simple but still very tasty. Thank you!

  • Avatar
    Reply Amy March 3, 2019 at 6:49 pm

    I have GOT to try this! I’m a total sucker for comfort food — but I also really try to eat healthy to power my body through all my sports. So great to find a recipe that can satisfy both! 🙂 Really great post — thanks for sharing!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 4, 2019 at 12:35 am

      Thanks! Yes, this is healthy but also comforting and delicious.

  • Avatar
    Reply Julie March 3, 2019 at 7:29 pm

    I just made my first lentil soup tonight (with lots of curry flavors) and it was delicious, so now I’m hooked! This will be my next version. I love generations-old recipes; thank you for sharing your family’s take.

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 4, 2019 at 12:37 am

      Thank you! Curry flavors are not to be found in Italian cuisine, so sometimes I like to go outside the box too 😉 . Hope you try this simple version!

  • Avatar
    Reply Kelsey Rickert March 4, 2019 at 7:35 am

    I am very new to cooking with lentils! So when I see a lentil recipe I want to make it so this is getting added to my menu this week! I really love the flavors you have going on!

    • Nicoletta
      Reply Nicoletta March 5, 2019 at 12:32 am

      Thank you! It is easy to make and pretty delightful to eat 🙂 .

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