I like to pair this soup with crusty bread and a green salad tossed in a creamy dressing, for a casual, hearty vegetarian meal.
The alliance of tomatoes, lentils, and fresh herbs is so very pleasing. The soup actually improves when made in advance, allowing the flavors a chance to marry. Serve this for dinner tonight and save the leftovers for a quick lunch during the coming weekend.
1 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 c. vegetable stock or canned chicken stock
2/3 c. dried brown lentils, rinsed
2 carrots, finely chopped
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 bay leaf
One 6-ounce can tomato paste
¼ c. finely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 tbsp. minced fresh thyme, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. snipped fresh dill, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tbsp. minced fresh tarragon, or 1 tsp. dried
1 tsp. fresh sweet marjoram, or ¼ tsp. dried
½ tsp. freshly ground pepper, or to taste
One 28-ounce can tomatoes, coarsely chopped, with juice
Salt to taste
Sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley or thyme for garnish
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes. Stir in the vegetable stock, lentils, carrots, celery, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat; cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and vegetables are tender, about 1 hour.
Meanwhile, stir together the tomato paste, parsley, thyme, dill, tarragon, marjoram, and pepper in a small bowl; set aside.
Remove the bay leaf from the soup. Stir in the tomatoes with juice. Add 1 cup of the soup liquid to the tomato paste mixture and stir until smooth; add to the soup and stir gently until heated through. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
This soup will keep for up to 5 days in a covered container in the refrigerator. When reheating, stir in vegetable stock or water to thin as desired.