In the Czech kitchen: New Year's Day lentils à la Café Savoy

Lentils on the plate, money in the pocket: Try this classic Czech recipe for a year-round abundance of health, and if you believe the superstition, wealth.

Klára Kvitová

Written by Klára Kvitová Published on 30.12.2022 15:01:00 (updated on 12.01.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

Lentils are an essential part of the New Year's menu for Czech families. Their shape resembles a coin, which superstition dictates should give those who eat lentil dishes enough money for the whole year. Lentils are also a great pick-me-up after New Year's Eve celebrations.

Legumes, and lentils, in particular, may be consumed in Czech culture to ensure wealth, but they're also known to improve your health. A superfood rich in protein, healthy fats, vitamins, and minerals, they're affordable, filling, and have a long shelf life. Historically this has been seen as an advantage -- available year-round, lentils in their unprocessed form keep for up to 6 months in the pantry.

In the Czech culinary tradition, lentils can be prepared several ways. Sour lentils served with fried egg or sausage are the most common preparation. A lighter variant is lentil soup. The recipe here, courtesy of the chefs at Prague's legendary Café Savoy, is a denser soup that can be served as a first course or a separate meal.

New Year's Day lentils à la Café Savoy

Serves 10


  • 700 g of lentils
  • 2 l of meat broth (chicken or beef)
  • 2-3 onions, roughly chopped (250-300 g in total)
  • 80 g of lard
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced into larger pieces
  • 120 ml of tomato purée
  • 1 tbsp sweet ground paprika
  • 5-6 tbsp of vinegar
  • 1 sausage of any kind
  • 1 tsp ground caraway
  • 1 tbsp marjoram
Prague's Cafe Savoy. (Photo: Ambiente Group).
Prague's Café Savoy. (Photo: Ambiente).


  • 1.The day before making this dish, soak the lentils. Add half a kilo of the lentils to a container and add 1 liter of the cold meat broth to cover. In a separate container add the remaining 200 g of lentils and cover with water until completely submerged. Leave both batches of lentils to soak overnight.
  • 2.When you're ready to cook the lentils, prepare a large pot. Melt the lard over medium heat and fry the onion in it until caramel-brown in color, then add the garlic, cooking until soft. Next, add the tomato puree and ground paprika. Stir well to combine.
  • 3.Add the lentils that have been soaked in broth to the onion-garlic mixture (if there is still some liquid left over, drain). Add another liter of broth and cook for about 40 minutes. Stir continuously, tasting along the way to test the texture. Once the lentils are soft enough to blend, add the vinegar, caraway, marjoram, and salt and pepper to taste. Then blend until smooth with a hand blender.
  • 4.Meanwhile, boil the second batch of soaked lentils in fresh water with a clove of the chopped garlic, until tender but firm, about 15-20 minutes. This batch of lentils will be added to the soup to thicken it.
  • 5.Next, slice the sausage and dry fry it in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the cooked lentils and sausage to the blended mixture, stir to combine, and then season with marjoram and caraway as needed.
  • 6.Plate and serve with a bit of fresh chive sprinkled on the top.

TIP: Using quality ingredients in your lentil soup makes all the difference. You can buy ready-made broth and sausages at the butcher counter at Kantýna in Wenceslas Square or in the Naše Maso butcher shop on Dlouhá Street or via their e-shop.

This article was created in cooperation with Ambiente. Read more about our partner content policies here.

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