Yield: 6 servings
2 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for drizzling (LuAnn used 1 Tablespoon and did NOT drizzle on extra olive oil when serving the soup)
1 medium onion, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 pound lentils (approximately 1 1/4 cups) (LuAnn actually weighed the lentils; on my scale, 1 pound was about 2 cups of lentils)
11 cups low-salt chicken broth (LuAnn used 12 cups water + 2 Tablespoons vegetarian beef-style seasoning)
4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs (LuAnn used 1 teaspoon each dried basil and dried oregano and 2 teaspoons dried thyme)
2/3 cup dried elbow pasta
Salt and pepper to taste (LuAnn used 2 teaspoons salt + several twists of the pepper mill)
1 cup shredded Parmesan (LuAnn omitted - but, I'm sure it would be delicious)
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat.
Add the onion, carrots, and celery, garlic and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes.
Add the tomatoes with their juices; simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes.
Stir in the lentils, broth and thyme sprigs; bring to a boil over high heat.
Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the pasta; simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls.
Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.