New Years Lucky Lentil Soup

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2 cups French green lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 large plus 1 medium yellow onion, small dice, about 3 1/2 cups
2 Tablespoons minced garlic, about 4 large cloves
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 1/2 taeaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2-3 large ribs of celery, small dice, about 1 1/2 cups
4 medium carrots, small dice, about 1 1/2
1 1/2 quarts ( 6 cups) low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
2 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 Tablespoon red wine or red wine vinegar, optional
Freshly grated Parmesan cheese for sprinkling on top, optional

Make the soup:
        In a large heavy pot over medium heat, heat the olive oil. Add the onions, garlic, salt and pepper and saute until translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin and continue to cook until the vegetables are softened, about 10 more minutes.
        Stir in the lentils, chicken stock, and tomato paste. Bring to a boil and turn down to a simmer. Cook uncovered for about 1 hour, until the lentils are tender. Taste to see if you need more salt or pepper. the seasonings. Stir in the red wine or red wine vinegar. Serve, sprinkled with some grated Parmesan, if desired.

Makes 6-8 servings.       YUM!

LESSONS Learned:
1. The hardest part of this recipe is finding the French green lentils. But most supermarkets and health food stores will carry them. There's always online too.
2. You can sub in the regular brown lentils, but it just won't be the same.
3. Make sure to pick through the lentils, you may find a few small stones or twigs.
4. Since you only need 2 Tablespoons of tomato paste, buy it in a tube.
5. This recipe is easily doubled, the extra can be frozen for a quick winter meal.
6. Don't eat my grandmother's lentil soup!