- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 2 cups diced yellow onion (from 1 large onion)
- 1 cup diced carrot (from 1 large or 2 small carrots)
- Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 3 garlic cloves, minced (about 1 tablespoon)
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 128-oz. can whole tomatoes, crushed lightly
- 5 roasted piquillo peppers (jarred or freshly roasted), roughly chopped (about 1/2-cup), or 2 roasted red peppers
- 1 tablespoon thyme, finely chopped
- 2 teaspoons Spanish smoked paprika, or more to taste
- 2 cups French lentils or Spanish pardina lentils, rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, plus water, as needed, to thin the soup
- 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar, or more to taste
- Heat the oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, and a pinch of salt, and cook until soft, stirring occasionally, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Move the ingredients to one side of the pan to create a “hot spot” for the tomato paste. Add the tomato paste and toast for a minute or two, stirring the paste a few times to prevent burning, then combine with the onions, carrots, and garlic.
- Add the tomatoes (I like to lightly crush them with my hands or cut them into coarse chunks with kitchen shears), piquillo peppers, thyme, smoked paprika, lentils, bay leaves, broth, 2 teaspoons of salt, and a few grinds of freshly ground black pepper and bring to a boil. Once at a boil, lower heat and simmer (uncovered) for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add water to thin, if needed. Reduce heat to its lowest setting and add sherry vinegar. Adjust seasoning and acidity to taste. Turn off the heat, remove bay leaves, and serve.