Concetta’s Lentil Soup

La Minestra di Lenticchie di Concetta

In Campobasso, regional capital of the rather remote region of Molise, there is a tiny back street trattoria owned and run by a lady called Concetta Cipolla. In a very small kitchen, dominated by a vast fireplace, Concetta prepares lunches and dinners for up to 160 people! One of the most memorable things I have ever eaten there is this delicious lentil soup.


  • 7 oz (200 g) brown lentils, soaked in water overnight, or red lentils
  • fl oz (65 ml) olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed
  • salt
  • croûtons of bread fried in olive oil to serve


If using brown lentils, remove and discard all those which have come to the surface of the water during the night and rinse the others in clean cold water. Put the soaked lentils (or the unsoaked red lentils) in a saucepan with the oil, garlic, salt to taste and about pints (2 litres) cold water. Bring to the boil and simmer very slowly for about 1½ hours or until the lentils are almost disintegrating. Serve the soup very hot, with croûtons of bread fried in olive oil if you wish.