Soup-making affords a lot of room for creativity. Sometimes this soup reminds me of an Indian dal, and I blend in lemon juice and cilantro at the end. Sometimes it seems more Italian; then I might stir in some olive oil and chopped parsley. Either way, I serve the soup with crusty bread and Agliata, passed separately.
1/4 cup COLAVITA Extra Virgin Olive Oil 2 celery ribs, with leaves, trimmed and chopped fine 1 medium onion, chopped fine 1 carrot, peeled and trimmed, chopped fine 1 pound brown lentils 1 1/2 cups finely chopped canned Italian tomatoes, with juice 6 to 8 cups low-salt chicken or meat broth Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper Lemon juice, to taste Agliata, as desired
1. Heat the oil in a heavy 5 quart stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the celery, onion and carrots; saute until softened, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pot and sweat the vegetables until tender, about 15 minutes. 2. Meanwhile, rinse the lentils in a sieve under cold running water. Pick over the lentils; place in a bowl and cover with cold water. 3. Drain the lentils; add to the pot along with the tomato and broth. Season with salt and pepper. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 40 minutes. 4. Pass the soup through a food mill fitted with a fine disk into a bowl. The soup should be the consistency of a thin puree; if not, thin as necessary with additional broth. Alternately, working in batches, puree the soup in a blender until smooth. 5. Return the soup to the pot, heat to simmering and season to taste with salt, pepper and lemon juice. Ladle into warmed bowls passing the Agliata separately. Makes 8 servings Per Serving (without Agliata): 293 Calories (24.8% from fat); 9g Fat (1g Sat, 5g Mono, 1g Poly); 25g Protein; 38g Carbohydrate; 18g Dietary Fiber; 0mg Cholesterol; 232mg Sodium. Food Exchanges: 2 Grain (Starch); 2 1/2 Lean Meat; 1 Vegetable; 1 1/2 Fat. Cooks Note: Make the soup up to 4 days in advance. Reheat the soup over low heat, thinning with broth as needed. Taste and correct seasonings with salt, pepper and lemon juice.