Prep 20 mins
Cook 1 hr 10 mins
A satisfying main dish soup from "The Best Vegetarian Recipes" by Martha Rose Shulman. The pasta and rice absorb a lot of the liquid, so the soup is thick (add more water if you want a brothier soup). Advance preparation: The soup is even better if it's made a day ahead of time; but don't add the pasta or rice or parsley until you reheat. Then proceed with step 4. It will keep for 5 days in the refrigerator and for 3 to 4 months in the freezer.
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 small carrot, minced (about 1/2 cup)
- 1⁄2 cup minced celery
- 4 large garlic cloves, minced or pressed
- 1 (14 ounce) can tomatoes with juice, seeded and chopped
- 1 1⁄2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 1 parmesan rind (optional)
- 3 sprigs parsley
- 3 sprigs thyme
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 pinches cayenne pepper (to taste)
- 1⁄2 cup small shell pasta, such as elbow macaroni or small shells or 1⁄2 cup arborio rice
- fresh ground black pepper
- 1⁄4-1⁄2 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1⁄4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
- Heat the oil over medium-low heat in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven. Add the onion, carrot, and celery. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in half the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until the garlic smells fragrant and is beginning to color, about 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes. Turn the heat to medium and bring the tomatoes to a simmer. Cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes, until the tomatoes have cooked down somewhat and smell fragrant. Stir in the lentils and 8 cups water and bring to a boil.
- Meanwhile, tie the Parmesan rind (if using), parsley, thyme, and the bay leaf together with kitchen twine, or tie in a piece of cheesecloth. Add to the soup. Add the cayenne, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Add salt, about 2 teaspoons to begin with (you will probably add more) and the remaining garlic. Simmer for another 15 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the broth is fragrant.
- Add pepper, and stir in the pasta or rice. Continue to simmer for another 10 to 15 minutes, until the pasta or rice is cooked through.
- Taste to adjust the seasonings, and remove the Parmesan rind bundle. Stir in the chopped parsley. Serve, topping each bowl with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.