Lentil Soup

  • 1 pound brown or green lentils
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 cup chopped celery
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups chicken or vegetable broth
  • 28 ounce can plum tomatoes, finely chopped (with juice)
  • 1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
  • Salt, to taste
  • Sour cream and extra parsley, optional

 Wash the lentils under cold running water, picking over them to remove any debris or defective lentils. Drain and set aside.In a large heavy pot heat the olive oil and sauté the onion, garlic, carrots and celery for 5 minutes, stirring often. Add the paprika, cumin and cayenne and cook 1 minute more. Add the broth and lentils and bring to a boil, stirring to mix well. Tie together the thyme sprigs and bay leaf with some kitchen twine and add to the pot. Cover, reduce to simmer and cook for 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.Add the tomatoes and cook, uncovered, for 10 to 15 minutes.Stir in the parsley and lemon juice. Salt to taste.Serve hot. May be topped with a dollop of sour cream and sprinkled with some more parsley.Serves 10 to 12.