from Mark Bittman’s How To Cook Everything Vegetarian1 cup dried lentils, washed and picked over 1 bay leaf Several sprigs fresh thyme or a few pinches dried 1 carrot, cut into 1/2 inch dice 1 celery stalk, cut into 1/2 inch dice 6 cups vegetable stock or water, plus more as needed Salt and freshly ground black pepper 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 1 onion, chopped 1 teaspoon minced garlic
1. Put the lentils, bay leaf, thyme, carrot, celery, and stock in a deep skillet or medium saucepan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then turn the heat down to low and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring, until if softens, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and stir, then cook for 1 minute more and turn off the heat.
3. When the lentils are tender, fish out the bay leaf and thyme sprigs and stir the onion mixture into the soup. (The soup may be made ahead up to this point, cooled, and refrigerated for up to 2 days. Reheat gently.) Add more stock if the soup is too thick, then taste, adjust the seasoning, and serve.
Italian-Style Lentil Soup with Rice Variation: Increase the amount of stock to 2 quarts. Prepare the soup through step one and start cooking the onions and garlic in step 2. After the lentils have been cooking for about 15 minutes, stir in 1/2 cup short-grain rice, preferably Arborio. Add 1 cup chopped tomatoes (canned are fine) to the pan with the onion. Pass freshly grated Parmesan cheese and extra virgin olive oil for drizzling at the table.