This is an easy, robust vegetarian soup that tastes almost meaty. The rosemary in the bouquet garni contributes an earthy flavor.
1 cup lentils, washed and picked over
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 carrot, diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
Salt to taste
1 14-ounce can chopped tomatoes, with juice
5 cups water
A bouquet garni made with 2 sprigs rosemary and 1 bay leaf
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Grated Parmesan or Gruyère for serving
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley
Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a heavy soup pot, and add the onion.
Cook, stirring, until tender, about five minutes.
Add the garlic, carrot and celery, and a generous pinch of salt, and continue to cook for another five minutes until tender.
Add the tomatoes and bouquet garni, and cook, stirring often, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant, about 10 minutes.
Add the lentils, water and salt to taste. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer gently one hour. Taste and adjust seasonings. Remove the bouquet garni, and stir in the parsley.
Serve, garnishing each bowl with Parmesan or Gruyère.
Yield: Serves four.MARTHA ROSE SHULMAN