1small fennel bulb, finely diced (or 1 large celery stalk)
2garlic cloves, minced
1tablespoonprepared mustard (I used stone-ground)
1 1/2cupsfrench green lentils de puy, optionally soaked for 4-8 hours
6 - 8cupsvegetable stock or water
salt and black pepper
4-6cupsloosely packed baby spinach leaves, washed
parmesan, for serving
In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over a medium flame until is shimmers. Add the onion, carrot and fennel, and saute, stirring occasionally, until the onion is tender and translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 1 minute, being careful not to let it burn. Add the mustard and tomato paste. Cook, stirring, until it forms a film on the bottom of the pan, 1-2 minutes.
Add the red wine, scrape up all the good stuff from the bottom of the pan, and let the mixture simmer until slightly thickened, 2 minutes. Drain the lentils if soaked, and add them to the pot along with the bay leaf and vegetable stock or water (use the smaller amount if the lentils have been soaked). Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.
Add 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt (less if your stock is salteand continue to cook, covered, until the lentils are very tender, about 10 minutes. Green lentils hold their shape well, so if you see some beginning to fall apart, the soup is probably done.
Stir in the spinach leaves and simmer until wilted, 1-2 minutes. Or, if you're not serving all of the soup right away, save the spinach leaves and add them as you heat up individual portions of soup.
Taste for seasoning, adding more salt if needed and freshly ground pepper. Serve bowls of soup topped with freshly grated parmesan and more pepper.
Adapted from Vegetable Soups from Deborah Madison's Kitchen.Soaking the lentils for 4-8 hours will help them cook faster, but it's not essential. If you do soak them, use the smaller quantity of water as they will have already absorbed some.This soup keeps well for up to a week in the fridge; add the spinach to order if you want it to stay green.Finish bowls with a grating of parmesan and pepper, and enjoy it with the rest of the red wine and some crusty bread.Nutritional values are based on one of six servings.