Small French green lentils (also called Puy lentils) are great for soups because they hold their shape well. A portion of this soup is pureed to lend body, but you can omit that step if you prefer.
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 1/2 cups chopped Rio or other sweet onion
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrot
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups dried petite green lentils
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 cup water
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite-cut diced tomatoes, drained
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, divided
How to Make It
Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion and next 5 ingredients (through bay leaf) to pan; sauté 12 minutes. Add lentils; cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Stir in broth, 1 cup water, and tomatoes; bring to boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 40 minutes or until lentils are very tender. Remove from heat; let stand for 5 minutes. Discard bay leaf.
Place 3 cups lentil mixture in a blender. Remove center piece of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender. Place a clean towel over opening in blender lid (to avoid splatters). Blend until smooth. Return pureed mixture to pan; stir in juice, salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle with remaining 1/2 teaspoon pepper.