This is my favorite filling, healthy lunch during the chilly late Fall and Winter months. It feeds a crowd, but it freezes well. It’s earthy, hearty, smoky. It’s also vegan, but I sometimes make it with chicken stock and/or add kielbasa (one package, diced) after the veggies have had a chance to sweat for a few minutes.
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium shallot, small diced
2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp sweet smoked paprika
1 tsp cumin
5-6 cloves of garlic, peeled and minced
5 medium carrots, peeled and small diced
5 large stalks celery, small diced
1 28 ounce can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 1/3 cups red lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
6ish cups vegetable stock
salt and pepper
Heat the oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium low. Add the shallots and carrots, and saute for at least 10 minutes, stirring them occasionally. It shouldn’t sizzle too loudly, this is a slow-cooking kind of process. When the carrots are slightly softened, add the celery, thyme, cumin, and paprika and saute for another 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and stir until very fragrant, about another minute or two.
Add the can of tomatoes and stir to coat vegetables. Cook out the tomatoes for about 5 minutes so as to remove some of their tinniness. Add drained lentils and stir to coat in the vegetables, oil and tomatoes. Add a splash of the stock and scrape any browned bits on the bottom of the pot. Add remaining stock, a few big pinches of salt, and a few grinds of black pepper, then give the whole mix a good stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling, return pot to a simmer, cover with a heavy lid and allow to cook for 25-30 minutes or until the lentils are soft. Check in on the pot once in a while and give it a stir. Season to your liking with salt and pepper.