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Lentil Soup with Pasta

Lentil Soup with Pasta
Instead of using pancetta, ask your butcher or delicatessen for prosciutto ends. The cost should be a fraction of the price of sliced prosciutto.

Ingredients:

  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 2 oz. chopped pancetta or bacon
  • 1 small yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, finely chopped
  • 1 celery stalk, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbs. minced fresh sage
  • 2 cups lentils
  • 1 cup canned whole plum tomatoes, chopped,
      with juice
  • 6 cups chicken broth, plus more if needed
  • 1 Tbs. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1/4 lb. tubettini, ditalini or other small soup
      pasta
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

Make the soup base
In a large pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta and sauté until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery and sage and sauté until the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes.

Cook the lentils
Stir in the lentils and tomatoes and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high, add the 6 cups broth and bring to a boil. Add the 1 Tbs. salt, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are nearly tender, 30 to 40 minutes. Add more broth if the soup starts to dry out.

Cook the pasta
Add the pasta to the lentils. Cook, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking, until the pasta is not quite al dente, about 2 minutes less than the package instructions. The pasta will continue to cook in the heat of the soup. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve immediately. Serves 4.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Pasta, by Julia della Croce (Oxmoor House, 2006).