This soup can be thrown together when it seems as if there's nothing on hand for dinner. To add color to the finished soup, cut some celery, carrot, onion and pancetta into small dice; add it to a saute pan with a little heated olive oil and cook just until the vegetables are tender. Top each portion with a spoonful.
The soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for 2 to 3 days; it freezes well.
Servings: 5 cups
- 8 ounces dried brown lentils
- 1 tablespoon mild olive or vegetable oil
- 2 ounces thinly sliced pancetta, cut into 1/2-inch dice (about 1/2 cup)
- 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped (about 3/4 cup)
- 1 rib celery, cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4- to 1/2-inch dice (about 1/3 cup)
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 4 cups low-sodium chicken broth
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Water (optional)
Rinse and drain the lentils; sort through them to discard any debris.
Heat the oil in a large (4-quart) pot over medium-high heat until the oil shimmers. Add the pancetta and cook, stirring, for 3 to 4 minutes, until its fat is rendered. Add the onion and cook for 3 to 4 minutes, until it just starts to soften. Add the celery and carrot, and cook, stirring every minute or so, until they just start to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute, then add the lentils and chicken broth.
Stir the soup and cover the pot with a lid, leaving it slightly ajar. Reduce the heat to medium or medium-low so the soup is barely boiling at the edges. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Carefully process the soup in batches in the blender just enough to puree the lentils and vegetables while still leaving some texture; the soup should not be completely smooth. Fill the blender no more than halfway. Or use an immersion (stick) blender in the pot. If the soup is too thick, add water as needed to achieve the desired consistency. Serve hot.
From In Season columnist Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
Tested by Stephanie Witt Sedgwick.
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