A winter warming nourishing soup to serve with Martha’s Cornbread
1 large onion, finely chopped (for a French version I add a few shallots)
3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
A handful (1/2 cup) diced bacon or pancetta
Flat leaf parsley
Brown or green lentils, about 2 cups, washed and picked over
Stock or water – enough to cover vegetables completely
1 bunch spinach
Mint and lemon to garnish
Sauté onions, garlic and pancetta in olive oil until golden. Add the chopped parsley.
Add the lentils and stir into the bacon-onion base.
Add enough stock or water to cover and simmer gently about 30 minutes.
Season with salt and fresh pepper. I add a bay leaf or two, a few sprigs of fresh thyme, and a dash of hot pepper flakes to warm it up a notch.
Wash and stem the spinach and tear into chunks. While it is still wet, steam in a shallow pan over high heat, covered, for just a minute or two so that it stays bright green. Put into soup bowls and ladle in the hot soup. Garnish with shredded mint leaves and a squeeze of lemon.
Variations: For an earthier soup, add celery (1 or 2 stalks) and a few mushrooms sautéed along with the onions, and spicy mustard greens or bok choy instead of the spinach.