Vegetarian Lentil Soup

Ingredients

1 tbsp olive oil

1 large onion, diced

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 stalks celery, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 tbsp tomato paste

3 ripe tomatoes,diced (or one can peeled, diced tomatoes)

1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

1 tbsp fresh basil, chopped

2 tsp cumin powder

1 tsp crushed red pepper (optional)

1 1/2 cups brown lentils

2 quarts cooking liquid (vegetable stock, water, or a mix)

Salt & pepper to taste

1 or 2 handfuls fresh spinach leaves

1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Directions

1.  In a large soup pot, heat the oil and saute the onion, garlic, celery and carrots until the vegetables are just starting to soften.  Add the tomato paste, mix well and continue to saute for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables are just starting to stick to the bottom of the pot.  Add the fresh tomatoes and continue cooking for about 5 minutes, until the tomatoes are soft.

2.  Add the cumin powder, herbs, lentils, salt, pepper and cooking liquid.  Stir well.  Bring to a low boil, stirring occasionally.  Reduce the heat.  Continue to simmer until the lentils are cooked and soup has thickened (about 45 minutes).

3.  Taste and adjust seasonings per your preference.  Stir in the spinach leaves and red wine vinegar.  Serve hot with salad or crusty bread.

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