Our family always has a big pot of slow soup on the table for lunch on Christmas Eve. Along with fried potatoes, or Schnipperla as it is called in Thuringia, where our tradition originated, this makes for a very tasty lunch. And because it’s so good, it gets a second look right a week later on the last day of the year. But why do we actually eat lentils at Christmas or New Year’s Eve? “So that you always have a lot of tiny change in your wallet,” was the explanation for me as a child. Here, the custom is also known elsewhere.
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Lentils and peas are said to bring change
In the Ore Mountains, for example, there are lentils as part of the Neinerlaa. The Neunerlei, which is traditionally served at Christmas. Each of the nine ingredients of the dish has its importance. Lentils and dumplings are always included. The remaining seven dishes may vary. Meat and bratwurst promise good luck, strength and prosperity. Vegetables like lentils, peas or millet bring the little change into the house. Dumplings make great money. But only if you don’t count them or if you publish an odd number. The celery in celery salad represents power and fertility.
Lentils in Italy
And in Italy, too, lentils – “lenticchie” with sausage – are served and eaten on New Year’s Eve. The custom stems from the fact that people used to give away a wallet full of lentils on the last day of the year. With the hope that the many many small lenses can become money.
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So the connection between lenses and money is ancient. In the Old Testament, Esau sells his firstborn to his brother James for a dish of lentils. Cinderella has to order lentils. Vegetarians appreciate them because they contain 25 to 30 percent protein. Lentils have been and are a typical winter meal, in the past because hardly anything fresh was available, today because they are simply delicious.
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In the Czech Republic, lentils are eaten on January 1 to ensure enough money for the new year. In Hungary the lentil dish for New Year is known. “Hoppin ‘John”, a black-eyed pea stew is popular in America. Moreover, in the Scandinavian countries people eat herring, which is reminiscent of silver. In France and Spain, it is a well-known custom to eat twelve grapes at midnight.
Recipe of the Ore Mountains
Ingredients for 4 to 6 people lentil soup
You need a lot of greens, 500 grams of lentils, 300 grams of potatoes, 2 onions, grams of onions, 1 ring of hanging sausage, 2 liters of water, 4 tablespoons of sugar, • 1-2 tablespoons of vinegar essence, salt and fresh ground pepper
And here’s how it works: Without soaking them first, cook the lentils with the overcooked vegetables and a pinch of salt until they are soft. Depending on the type of lens, this lasts 45 to 60 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the sliced potatoes separately with a little water and salt until tender. Cut the sausage into rings and fry. When enough fat has escaped, the onions cut into rings are added and fried with constant stirring until they are glassy and soft. Add finely chopped garlic.
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Taste the lentils sweet and sour
Add four tablespoons of sugar and stir. Remove the raw vegetables from the soft boiled lentils and add the potatoes with their cooking water and the mixture of sausage and onion. Stir well and add 1 tablespoon of vinegar essence. Move and taste! Add sugar and salt. A pinch of ground pepper completes the soup. The soup tastes even better when it is soaked and heated!