For the Lentils:
- 2 cups dried lentils, rinsed (1lb. bag)
- 6 cups water
- 1 quart chicken broth
- 1 smoked ham shank, cut into pieces or several slices of pancetta or bacon cooked and cut into pieces
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 4 stalks celery (leafy tops too if have), cut into small pieces
- 3 carrots, peeled and shredded
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1/2 teaspoon thyme
- 3 dried bay leaves
For Tomato Sauce:
- 1 – 28oz. can Italian plum tomatoes, chopped well
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley, chopped
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Put lentils in a large bowl, cover with water and soak for several hours or overnight; drain and rinse. Discard any that are floating.
- Saute celery, carrots, onion and garlic in a little olive oil until soft.
- Add rest of ingredients for “Lentil portion” of soup. Cover and simmer about 45 minutes; stirring a few times during the cooking.
- While lentils are cooking, prepare the tomato sauce. In a medium size saucepan, heat oil and garlic and then stir in tomatoes and season. Simmer uncovered, 15-20 minutes.
- Remove all the bay leaves and discard
- Transfer half of the lentils to a food processor or use a hand blender and puree until smooth. Return to other portion. This way the soup has some texture but not all chunky. Sometimes I puree a little bit more than half the amount.
- Add tomato sauce to lentil batch and cook another 15 minutes.
- Serve with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan and a few drops of good olive oil if you wish.