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LENTIL SOUP • Prepare lentils as instructed in the packaging, leaving slightly al dente. Separate into three containers, rinsing in cold water to stop the cooking. • In a soup pot, brown a whole onion, at least four cloves of garlic, a couple of chopped carrots and the flesh of a bell pepper until slightly soft. Some people like celery, but I find it too strong a taste for the gentle goodness of lentils. • Add in one can of good quality chopped tomatoes, stir in with vegetables, season to taste and try an herbal combo you like – I alternate between the European taste of thyme or the central Asian taste of curry. Lentils take on the flavor of the rest of the ingredients, so they are extremely versatile. • Finally, add in your somewhat pre-cooked lentils, mix together and cover with water, chicken stock or my own secret trick – mushroom broth. Mushroom broth doubles up on the earthy flavor of your lentils without being overt. • Simmer until desired consistency is reached. For a thicker, richer stew-like consistency, use an immersion blender once completed. For a lighter, broth-based soup, skip this step. • While I never use a smoked meat product to flavor my lentil soup, the end presentation provides tons of options based on taste: crumbled bacon, crushed pork rinds hot sauce and sour cream, crème fraiche, pepitos, etc. Finish with chopped scallions and you have a soup course or main dish well removed from a canned (gasp!) lentil soup. Photo licensed by Ingram Image

Photo credit: © depositphotos.com | fudio

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