Esau’s Lentil Soup

This post is also available in Italiano

Almost everyone knows the biblical story of Esau, who sold his own birthright in exchange for a plate of lentils, but no one knows exactly how that dish was made, delicious to the point of being worth more than the many rights that in Biblical times were reserved for a firstborn son.

Minestra di Esaù

Jews of the ancient Italian-Tuscan Jewish communities tried to imagine how this well-known lentil dish could be prepared: their recipe follows.

The traditional version that I explain below requires, along with lentils, meatballs; these, however, can be substituted with dehydrated soy bites or even completely omitted.

Esau Lentil Soup
Tipo di portata: Primo
Cucina: Ebraica
Tempo di preparazione: 
Tempo di cottura: 
Tempo totale: 
Porzioni: 6
  • 500 g of lean ground beef
  • 4 tablespoons extravirgin olive oil
  • 2 carrots, diced, for the sautéed vegetables
  • 1 stalk of celery, chopped, for the sautéed vegetables
  • 1 minced onion, for the sautéed vegetables
  • 250 g coarse ground tomato puree or tomato pulp
  • 5 glasses of water
  • 300 g of dried, well-washed lentils
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 laurel leaf
  • parsley (optional)
  • salt
  • pepper
  1. Mix the ground meat with a teaspoon of salt and a pinch of pepper, forming very small meatballs.
  2. In a frying pan with a high edge or in a saucepan, prepare the sautéed vegetables with and cook the meatballs in the same pan, browning them well over a high heat for about ten minutes.
  3. The crushed garlic should be added raw when the dish is cooked, but if this idea does not thrill you, you can add it to the sautéed vegetables.
  4. Pour the tomato puree or pulp into the pot and let it simmer for 5 minutes, then add the water, 1 teaspoon of salt and continue cooking the meatballs in the sauce. After the water begins to boil, add lentils and laurel leaves, then cover the soup and let it cook over low heat for a good half hour.
  5. Remove the pot from the heat, and check if the lentils are cooked. If necessary, you can add water and continue cooking them, but without exceeding cooking times, otherwise they will be overdone and mushy.

Leave a comment!