Warm Lentil Soup With Pancetta
- 3 ounces thinly-sliced pancetta cut thin strips (Italian bacon cured in salt, available
- at Italian markets, some specialty foods stores, and some supermarkets)
- 1 1/2 cups coarsely-chopped celery - (abt 3 stalks)
- 1 1/2 cups chopped white onion - (abt 1 medium)
- 3/4 cup chopped carrot
- 2 slices thick-cut bacon chopped
- 1 head garlic most of outer skin
- removed, cut in half crosswise
- 2 small bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
- 1 pound French green lentils rinsed, drained
- 10 cups low-salt chicken broth or more if needed
- 2 tablespoons whipping cream
- 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar
- 8 green onions quartered
- crosswise, then cut lengthwise into thin
Sauté pancetta in heavy large pot over medium-high heat until crisp and brown. Using slotted spoon, transfer to paper towels to drain (do not clean pot). Spoon 1 tablespoon drippings into medium skillet and reserve.
Add celery, onion, carrot, bacon, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme to remaining drippings in pot and sauté until vegetables are soft, about 8 minutes. Add lentils and stir 1 minute. Add 10 cups broth; bring to simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until lentils are soft, about 1 hour. Discard bay leaves and garlic.
Using slotted spoon, transfer 2 cups lentils to small bowl; cover and reserve. Working in batches, puree remaining soup until almost smooth. Return to pot. Add cream and vinegar. Thin with more broth to desired consistency. Season with salt and pepper.
Reheat pancetta drippings in reserved skillet over medium-high heat. Add green onions; sauté until wilted, about 1 minute.
Divide soup among bowls. Spoon lentils in center of each bowl, dividing equally. Garnish with pancetta and green onions and serve.
This recipe yields 6 first-course or 4 main-course servings.