I truly believe that you can have your bacon and eat it too... I found this recipe when trying to find a soup that my husband would enjoy, but still getting him to consume more lentils and beans! It was a hit in our house...the only unhealthy thing in here is the bacon...and truly, we didn't even use as much as the recipe called for. In the past, I have also baked bacon on cookie trays, letting the fat drip off onto a cookie sheet prior to using it in the soup!
Lentil Garlic Soup
2 tbsp Extra virgin olive oil, for cooking, plus more for stirring into the soup
1/4-pound bacon chopped very fine
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tsp chopped garlic
1/3 cup chopped celery
2 tbsp chopped parsley
1/3 cup fresh, ripe, firm tomatoes, skinned raw with a peeler, all seeds removed, and chopped or canned Italian plum tomatoes, cut up, with their juice
1 cup dried lentils
1-1/2 cups short, tubular soup pasta
1/4 cup freshly grated romano cheese
1. Choose a saucepan that can later contain the lentils and pasta with sufficient water to cook them. Put in two tablespoons olive oil, the chopped bacon, onion, garlic, celery, and parsley, and turn on the heat to medium. Cook, stirring and turning the ingredients over often, until the vegetables become deeply colored, about 15 minutes. Add the chopped tomato, stir to coat it well, and cook for a few minutes until the fat floats free of the tomato.
2. Add the lentils, turning them over three or four times to coat them well, then add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Adjust heat so that the liquid simmers gently, and cook until the lentils are tender, about 25 to 30 minutes. Whenever the water level falls below the 1 inch above the lentils you started with, replenish with as much water as needed.
Ahead-of-time note: You can make the soup up to this point several hours or even a day or two in advance. Reheat thoroughly, adding water if necessary, before proceeding with the next step.
3. Add salt and several grindings of pepper, put in the pasta, and turn up the heat to cook at a brisk boll. Add more water if necessary to cook the pasta. When the pasta is done - it should be tender, but firm to the bite - the consistency of the soup should be more on the dense than on the thin side.
4. Taste and correct for salt and pepper. Add the grated cheese and about 1 tbsp of olive oil, stir thoroughly, then take off heat and serve at once.