'Semplicissima' French Lentil Soup
Note Regarding the Lentils: make sure to find "French lentils," also sometimes called green lentils for this soup--the other lentils don't survive with shape intact through the long cooking time, and these have a flavour all their own. They are also sometimes called "green lentils" which is confusing because they look almost black to me. Just make sure they resemble the above picture. If you can't find them at the grocery store, try a health or bulk food store.
- 1 lb/ 500 grams French lentils, rinsed (in a colander/strainer)
- 1 - 2 carrots, peeled and chopped small
- 2-3 celery stalks, peeled and chopped small (plus celery leaves, washed and chopped)
- 1 large onion, chopped small
- few garlic cloves, chopped
- filtered water
- extra virgin olive oil
- sea salt and fresh ground black pepper
- 2 bay leaves
- a rind of any hard cheese (pref. grana padano or parmigiano, but anything will do)
- few sun dried tomatoes, chopped (optional)
- jar/ can of whole tomatoes with juice, chopped
- white wine (optional)
1. Place a large heavy bottomed pot over medium- high heat and cover the bottom with several good drizzles of the olive oil.
2. When the oil has warmed, add the chopped carrots, celery and leaves, onions and bay leaves and stir frequently to prevent burning, about 10 minutes.
3. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute more.
4. Add about half a cup of wine, if using, and stir until partially evaporated. If not (or once it has almost evaporated) add the chopped tomatoes with their juices and the lentils, turning the heat to high, and stirring to combine everything about 5 minutes.
5. Add enough water to cover the lentil mixture by about 2 inches (you can always add more later depending on the consistency that you like your soup) as well as the cheese rind and the optional sun- dried tomatoes.
6. Bring to a boil then lower the heat to a simmer (medium- low) for about an hour- if you are in a rush, you can test to see if it is ready after 45 minutes.
7. Serve hot with a swirl of olive oil and some grindings of black pepper!