Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Cups red lentils, rinsed and picked through
  • 1/2 lb pancetta, or good quality slab bacon cut into a 3 or 4 large chunks
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon minced rosemary leaves
  • 1 teaspoon minced marjoram, or oregano
  • 1 red bell pepper peeled, seeded and chopped
  • ½ gallon homemade chicken stock or canned broth
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed, toasted in a dry pan until fragrant
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper

Preparation:

In a heavy bottomed soup pot heat olive oil on medium heat. Add carrot, celery, onion and pancetta.  Sauté gently for 7-10 minutes until the vegetables are soft but not caramelized and the pancetta has rendered some of its fat.  Add in the garlic, rosemary and marjoram and sauté briefly until aromatic.  Add in the stock and lentils.  Bring to a boil, and then turn the heat down to low.  Simmer 1 hour or until the lentils are tender.  Add in  spices.

With tongs remove the pieces of pancetta and set aside.  When cool enough to handle, pulse in a food processor or chop by hand into small pieces.

With a hand blender (or in batches in an upright blender) pulse the soup until mostly pureed but with a few chunks.  Add back in the chopped pancetta and adjust the seasonings. Depending on how salty your pancetta is, the soup may need some salt added.