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Lentil Minestrone with Greens
    Serves 4 - 6
        This is as warming, filling, and comforting a winter soup as you can get. The greens, added towards the end of cooking, make a great partner for the lentils. If you make this soup a day ahead, don’t add the pasta or rice, or the greens, until you reheat before serving.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
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1 small onion, chopped
1 large or
2 small
carrots, minced
(about 3/4 cup)
4 large garlic cloves, minced or put through a press
1 can (14 ounces) tomatoes, seeded and chopped, with juice
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme (or 1 teaspoon fresh leaves)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
3/4 pound lentils (about 1 1/2 cups), picked over and rinsed
8 cups water
1 Parmesan rind
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  A few sprigs each parsley and thyme
  1 bay leaf
  A few pinches of cayenne
1/2 pound Swiss chard, stalks removed, leaves washed and chopped
(2 cups, tightly packed)
1/2 cup soup pasta (such as elbow macaroni, small shells, or tubetti) or Arborio rice
  Freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

1. Heat the oil in a heavy soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-low heat, and add the onion and carrot. Cook, stirring, until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes or a little longer, and stir in the garlic. Cook, stirring, just until the garlic smells fragrant and is beginning to color, about 1 minute, and 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 water and bring to a boil.

2. Tie the Parmesan rind, parsley and thyme sprigs, and bay leaf together with kitchen string (or a piece of cheesecloth). Add to the soup. Add the cayenne, reduce the heat, cover, and simmer 30 minutes. Add salt, about 2 teaspoons to begin with (you will probably add more), and simmer another 15 to 30 minutes, until the lentils are tender and the broth fragrant.

3. Add pepper to the soup, and stir in the chard and pasta. Continue to simmer another 10 to 15 minutes, until the pasta is cooked through. Taste. Is there enough salt? Garlic? Adjust seasonings, and remove the Parmesan rind bundle. Stir in the parsley. Serve, topping each bowlful with a generous sprinkle of Parmesan cheese.


Advance preparation:The soup can be made through Step 2 up to 4 days before you serve. It will thicken. You can thin it out with water to taste. Bring back to a simmer and proceed with the recipe.

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