Lentil Tomato Soup (Martha Shulman, NYT)

1 cup lentils (I use red)

1 tble extra virgin oil

1 medium onion chopped

2 garlic cloves minced

1 carrot diced

1 stalk celery chopped

salt to taste

1 14-oz can pureed tomatoes

5 cups water

1 bouquet garni made with 2 sprigs rosemary and 1 bay leaf

Freshly ground pepper to taste

Grated parmesan or gruyere for serving

1 to 2 tble chopped flat leaf parsley

1. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in heavy soup pot or dutch oven, and add 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, and stir in parsley.  Serve, garnishing each bowl with grated cheese.

Variation:  for an even more substantial, minestrone-like soup, add 1 cup pasta or rice just before serving.

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