* This was not met with "rave reviews" as is customary for the recipes I list here, but I am including it because it was good and I'm trying to do more meatless main dishes.
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 large sweet onion, diced
1 stalk celery, chopped
2 large cloves garlic, finely minced
1 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 can (28 oz.) diced tomatoes, drained
2 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
2 1/2 c. dried lentils, soaked in cold water 1 hour, drained and rinsed.
2 bay leaves
6 c. beef broth
2 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1/3 c. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley leaves
3/4 c. packed fresh basil leaves
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large saucepan over medium heat, heat olive oil. Add onion, celery and garlic and cook and stir 5 minutes; do not brown. Stir in tomato paste, tomatoes, thyme and lentils. Add lentil mixture to slow cooker along with the bay leaves and beef broth. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 6 hours or until lentils are soft. While the soup is simmering, prepare the vinaigrette. Combine the vinegar, oil, parsley, and basil in a blender or food processor. Process on high speed until smooth; set aside. Stir vinaigrette into soup just before serving. Season with salt and pepper. Makes 4-6 servings.
* Variation: Alternatively, place all soup ingredients except vinaigrette to slow cooker. Stir to combine; cover and cook on high 4 hours or on low 8 hours.
* Note: Add 1 to 2 hours to cooking time if you do not soak lentils before cooking.