Adapted from recipe in cooks illustrated.
makes about 2 quarts, serving 4 to 6. Published January 1, 2004.
Lentils du Puy, sometimes called French green lentils, are our first choice for this recipe, but brown, black, or regular green lentils are fine, too. Note that cooking times will vary depending on the type of lentils used. Lentils lose flavor with age, and because most packaged lentils do not have expiration dates, try to buy them from a store that specializes in natural foods and grains. Before use, rinse and then carefully sort through the lentils to remove small stones and pebbles. The soup can be made in advance. After adding the vinegar in step 2, cool the soup to room temperature and refrigerate it in an airtight container for up to 2 days. To serve, heat it over medium-low until hot, then stir in the parsley.
3 slices bacon (about 3 ounces), cut into 1/4-inch pieces
1 smoked ham shank (remove most of the ham from the bone and cut into cubes to add to soup.
1 large onion , chopped fine (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 medium carrots , peeled and chopped medium (about 1 cup)
3 medium cloves garlic , minced or pressed through garlic press (about 1 tablespoon)
1 can (14 1/2 ounces) diced tomatoes , drained
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 cup lentils (7 ounces), rinsed and picked over
1 teaspoon table salt
ground black pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
4 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
3 tablespoons minced fresh parsley leaves
1. Fry bacon in large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. Add onion and carrots; cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften, about 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in lentils, salt, and pepper to taste; cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook until vegetables are softened and lentils have darkened, 8 to 10 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to high, add wine, and bring to simmer. Add chicken broth and water and smoked ham shank and diced ham; bring to boil, cover partially, and reduce heat to low. Simmer until lentils are tender but still hold their shape, 30 to 35 minutes; discard bay leaf.
2. Puree 3 cups soup in blender until smooth, then return to pot; stir in vinegar and heat soup over medium-low until hot, about 5 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons parsley and serve, garnishing each bowl with some of remaining parsley.