Pasta & Lentil Soup recipe
1 cup dried brown or green lentils
6 tbsp olive oil
¼ cup finely diced beef
1 onion, finely chopped
1 celery stick, finely chopped
1 carrot finely chopped
8 cups chicken stock or water
1 fresh sage leaf
1 fresh thyme sprig or 4 tsp dried thyme
2 cups ditalini or other small soup pasta
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Crusty bread, to serve
Carefully check the lentils for small stones. Place them in a bowl, add cold water to cover and leave to soak for about 3 hours. Drain, rinse and drain well again.
Heat the olive oil in a large, heavy pan over low heat. Add the beef and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
Add the onion and cook gently, stirring occasionally until softened but not colored for about 5 minutes.
Stir in the celery and carrot and cook, stirring frequently, for a further 5 minutes. Add the lentils and stir to coat them evenly in the cooking fats.
Pour in the stock or water and add the sage and thyme. Increase the heat to medium and bring the soup to the boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and simmer gently for about 1 hour or until the lentils are tender. Season it to taste with salt and pepper.
Stir in the pasta, increase the heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, until it is just tender. Remove the pan from the heat and leave to stand for a few minutes. Ladle the soup into warmed soup bowls and serve with crusty bread.