4 strips bacon*
1 medium onion
2 large carrots
2 celery stalks
2 cloves garlic
1 tablespoon sherry (or omit)
1 cup dry green or brown lentils
1 bay leaf
6–8 cups water
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
2 teaspoons soy sauce (use 1 teaspoon salt if you can’t do soy)
Dice the bacon finely and put into a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon fat has mostly rendered out and the bacon bits are beginning to crisp (about 5 minutes)
Meanwhile, dice the onion and slice carrots and celery. Add the onion to the bacon and cook a minute or two until beginning to soften.
Add carrots, celery and minced garlic. Cook 60 seconds. Deglaze the pot with the sherry.
Once sherry has evaporated and the bottom of the pan has been scraped up, add the lentils, bay and 6 cups of water. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. (If your pot’s lid doesn’t seal really tight, add 8 cups of water instead to make up for evaporation loss.)
At 30 minutes, the lentils should be softened. Add paprika and soy sauce and simmer another 10-15 minutes. If the soup is thick enough, keep the lid on; if it’s too thin, simmer uncovered.
Serve hot. Soup freezes and reheats perfectly.
*For a vegetarian lentil soup, omit bacon. Saute vegetables in a tablespoon of oil or butter. Add 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika along with the sweet paprika.