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Roman Lentil Casserole ( Pottage)

This recipe is in categories Romano-British, Healthy eating, Soups and Sauces,
About this recipe:
Difficulty: 3

This recipe has several steps and you do need to be organised before starting. You will need to make the defrutum the day before as it takes about 3 hours to make. It will keep covered in the fridge for 3-4 days.

Preparation Time: 15 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 minutes + 3 hours for defrutum + soaking lentils overnight
Number of servings: 4
Serving suggestions: Serve with flat bread.
This is a vegetarian recipe

This Roman recipe has a complex balance of flavours and makes the lentils into a splendid dish in their own right. Romans ate many varieties of lentils but red lentils seem to have be used in Romano-British dishes in particular. You can, however, use any lentils for this dish.

Defrutum is a kind of syrupy, grape juice and we have included the recipe here too. You can eat the cooked figs with cream and a little of the syrup as a pudding once you have made your defrutum.

We used dried rue as we were not able to obtain fresh. It was added with the thyme, but do make sure you add these early enough to soften completely.




Making and cooking it


  1. Simmer the figs in the red grape juice for 3 hours or until reduced by two thirds.


  1. Soak lentils overnight
  2. Drain and cover with fresh water (you can add white wine for a richer dish)
  3. Bring to the boil and simmer until starting to soften
  4. Add the clean leeks and continue cooking
  5. Add the olive oil, vinegar, honey and defrutum.
  6. Dry roast the coriander seeds and asafoetida
  7. Grind them to a powder and add to the pan
  8. Add the dried mint (if using)
  9. When fully cooked add the fish sauce, fresh coriander, rue and mint
  10. Bring back to heat and thicken with a little cornflour
  11. Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper and serve