With a little bacon and some leftover ham, that bag of lentils in your pantry turns into a hearty, satisfying soup. Leftovers are great, as most legume soups benefit from being made a day ahead so their flavors meld. Substitute green split peas for the lentils, if you prefer; they take less time to cook, so monitor the soup accordingly.
5 slices thick-sliced bacon, cut crosswise into 1/2-inch strips
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1 pound dried lentils
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
How to Make It
Cook bacon in a Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp. Remove from pan, reserving 2 tablespoons drippings in pan; set bacon aside. Add ham to drippings in pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the onion and the next 4 ingredients (onion through carrot); cover and cook 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and next 6 ingredients (broth through bay leaves). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils are tender. Discard bay leaves; sprinkle with bacon and chives just before serving.
Enjoyed this soup, but I'm not sure yet if we'll have it again. I had to add 10 min to simmering to get the lentils tender and this resulted in nearly all the liquid being absorbed. Next time I'd add extra water or broth. I omitted celery and fennel due to family preferences, and added a little white pepper and red pepper.
I love love love this recipe! I got it from a co-worker who described it as "magical" and thus began my affair with CL recipes! I have made it several times omitting the fennel. I also use red lentils which I find to be much more tender than hohum regular lentils. Red lentils also "melt" into more of a soupey texture. Other than that I made as directed.
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