1/2 lb diced bacon or turkey bacon or diced sausage (this is totally optional – if not using bacon or sausage, you will need some canola or olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan before sautéing the veggies)
1 white onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 ribs of celery, sliced (including the leaves, they are so good, especially in soups)
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 zucchini, diced
1 cup cut green beans (or cabbage or cauliflower)
1 big can diced tomatoes or 2 cups diced fresh tomatoes
2 cups cooked french lentils (brown or Puy – just not red lentils – boil them in stock, herbs and a tsp of butter until they are al dente)
1/2 tsp chili flakes
salt and pepper
chopped fresh basil or flat leaf parsley or both (and as much or as little as you like)
1 tsp balsamic vinegar
- Fry the bacon in the soup pot until crispy – depending on the size of the pot, you may need to do this in batches. If you put too much bacon in at once, it kind of struggles to get crispy – leave space between the pieces. If using bacon, start with a cold pot and heat it at medium high, this avoids the bacon burning or being burnt and soggy: truly a bacon disaster.
- Once the bacon or sausage is nice and crispy, remove it from the pot and set aside. Drain off most of the fat, just leaving a coating on the bottom of the pan.
- Saute the onions over medium high heat until soft and just starting to turn brown, add celery, carrots and garlic. Add chili flakes, salt, pepper. Cook for another 1-2 minutes then add the zucchini. Continue to saute for a few minutes. Add the canned tomatoes, green beans and lentils. Let simmer for 30 minutes. Add the chopped herbs and the balsamic vinegar. Enjoy!