Czech Traditions: New Year’s Eve and Lentils Soup

czech lentils soup recipe new years eve

The Czech Republic has got a very rich history full of traditions that carry on to today.

New Year’s Eve celebrations are usually full of lavish feasting and hilarity which is a paradox considering the religious connection to Pope Sylvester (in Czech, we call New Year’s Eve “Silvestr”) who died in December 31, 335.

We should start the New Year in a better way than we finished the previous one, therefore you can hear Czechs saying “Jak na Novy rok, tak po cely rok” (free translation: as on New Year’s Day, the same throughout the whole year).


  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1-2 Tbsp flour
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 Bay leaves
  • 2-4 Tbsp. white vinegar


Put the lentils into a middle-sized pot full of water overnight. The next day, put the pot with lentils and water on the stove, start simmering them. In a large pot, brown butter, add diced onions, bacon, crushed garlic, and sliced carrots.

When the bacon and onions are golden brown, dust the mixture with all-purpose flour, stir and cook for 2 minutes. Pour lentils with water from the smaller pot to the large pot with mixture (add even more water if needed), stir them well and let cook until they are soft.

Salt heavily, add pepper and pickle juice. Cook for 5 more minutes. Take the pot off the heat and add parsley into the soup. Serve on January 1.


According to Czech superstition, the New Year’s dish should not include poultry or anything that fly, to prevent good luck flying away from us.

Therefore, traditional New Year’s lentils consist of these so-called “sour lentils”. They are accompanied with smoked meat and/or a fried or poached egg and pickle. (Even though I never quite understood something… Isn’t egg poultry?)

Anyhow… Dobrou Chut!

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