LENTIL VEGETABLE SOUP
Serves 6 to 8.
Note: This is meatless if you use vegetable broth. But if you have a hungry crowd that wants meat, sauté diced bacon or pancetta with the onions. From "Mad Hungry: Feeding Men & Boys," by Lucinda Scala Quinn.
• 21/2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
• 1 onion, chopped
• 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
• 2 celery ribs, peeled and chopped
• 3 garlic cloves, minced (1 tbsp.)
• 1 tbsp. coarse salt, divided
• 1 small tomato, chopped
• 1 tbsp. tomato paste
• 2 c. brown or green lentils
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1 small bay leaf
• 1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
• 6 c. chicken broth or vegetable broth
• 4 c. water, plus more if needed
• 2 tsp. red wine vinegar
Heat a large soup pot over high heat and swirl in the olive oil. Add onion, carrots, celery, garlic and 1 teaspoon salt. Reduce heat to low and sauté until vegetables are lightly caramelized, about 5 minutes. Add tomato and cook for 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook another 2 minutes.
Add lentils, thyme, bay leaf, pepper and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Add broth and 4 cups water, and bring to boil, skimming and discarding any foam as it rises to surface. Reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender, 15 to 20 minutes.
Stir in vinegar. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If needed, thin soup with additional water or broth for desired consistency. Serve in a bowl topped with croutons scattered atop.