This is one of my favorite soups! I made it once without bacon for my vegan friend– I just used a little oil to cook the vegetables instead.
3 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped fine
1/4 cup celery, chopped fine
4 carrots, peeled and chopped medium
2 golden potatoes, peeled and cubed
3 medium garlic cloves, minced
1 15oz can of diced tomatoes, drained
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp dry thyme
1 cup lentils, rinsed and picked over
1 tsp salt
black pepper to taste
4 1/2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
1. Fry the bacon in a large stockpot or dutch oven over medium-high heat until bacon is crispy. (3-4 minutes) Add the onion, celery, and carrots; cook until vegetables begin to softened. (3-4 minutes) Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme; cook another 30 seconds. Stir in the lentils, salt and pepper; cover, reduce heat to medium-low. cook 8-10 minutes.
2. Uncover and increase the heat to high. Add the potatoes, broth and water and bring to a boil. Cover partially, and reduce the heat to low. Simmer until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape (30-35 minutes). discard bay leave.
3. Puree 2 cups of the soup in a blender until smooth and return to the pot. Stir in the vinegar and heat the soup over medium-low until hot. (5 minutes)