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Lentil soup is always on the New Year's menu at Rach's house to symbolize good luck, but this hearty, comforting soup is good every day of the year.
For more ideas, check out her favorite ways to cook lentils for a cheap dinner.
For the lentils, soak lentils overnight. Rinse and drain, then place in a pot with a couple of quarts of water, bay and onion, bring to boil, season with salt and cook 1 hour, skimming the lentils as need be. Cook lentils 1 hour at low boil. Drain if more than 2 cups of liquid remain and remove bay and onion from lentils.
For the soup base, steep mushrooms in stock in a saucepot over medium heat. Reduce liquid to 6 cups, remove the mushrooms and finely chop.
Heat a soup pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat with EVOO, add carrots, celery, onion, leek, fennel, garlic, season with salt and black pepper or white pepper, add a little nutmeg (about ¼ teaspoon), soften 5 minutes and add tomato paste, stir to combine, add wine, herbs, stock and mushrooms, lentils, and simmer 30 minutes. Add the kale or spinach to wilt, and adjust salt and pepper.
Serve lentils in shallow bowls with toppings of choice. (If using, mix the chopped and toasted walnuts with parsley and stir the crème fraiche with a touch of lemon juice, Dijon mustard and herbs.)