While you can eat this broth as is, I think of it more as a base to which I add whatever veggies I have on hand, beans and/or grains and possibly a few additional spices. It’s perfect for a cold day, and the lentils enrich the broth and make it surprisingly hearty even with out add-ins.
1 yellow onion, diced
1 cup sliced carrots
1 cup chopped celery (aim for roughly an equal amount of onions, carrots, and celery)
2 tablespoons oil([I use a mix of grapeseed and olive)
salt and pepper to taste
2-4 chilis japones or other small red dried chilis (optional)
1/2 cup small red lentils of peeled mung beans (small lentils are key! You can make this with larger lentils or split peas, it will just take much longer to cook)
1 12-oz can of tomato sauce or puree
1. In a soup pan, heat the oil and saute the onion, carrot and celery. When the onion starts to get translucent, add the pepper and chili. Continue to cook until the onion is soft but not caramelized. Add the lentils and salt and stir to coat.
2. Add the tomato sauce and 5-6 cups of water. Bring to a simmer and let cook until the lentils dissolve into the broth, about 45 minutes to an hour. Season with more salt and pepper to taste. Serve with crusty bread on a cold winter night.
To fancy up the broth into a full blown soup, add some spices at the end of step 1 (when you add the lentils). Consider using curry powder, ras el hanout, basil, oregano or any other herbs or spices that you like. Then add some vegetables and/or canned beans in step 2 when you add the liquid. Consider using potatoes, cabbage, brocoli, green beans, garbanzo beans, kidney beans, zucchini, hominy, barley or other vegetables and grains that you like.
You can also stir in chopped cilantro at the end once you turn off the heat. This is especially nice with the mung beans and curry powder flavors.