From the store to the kitchen to the table: We outline the steps that get you from raw ingredients to your dinner tonight, free of measurements and complicated techniques. It’s the most basic way to make the thing you’re making—like a fantastic lentil soup.

You’ll need:

  • two scoops of lentils (any color except red)
  • half an onion
  • one celery stalk
  • one carrot
  • three garlic cloves
  • oil (olive or vegetable)
  • salt and pepper
  • fresh thyme (optional)
  • one bay leaf
  • one 15-ounce can of diced tomatoes
  • one quart of vegetable broth, more if needed
  • red wine or sherry vinegar
  • two big handfuls of spinach leaves (optional)
  • a blender or food processor (optional)

How to make it:

  1. Rinse the lentils in a colander or strainer.
  2. Finely chop all the vegetables.
  3. Coat the bottom of a pot with oil and heat. Add the vegetables and cook until they’re softened. Season with salt and pepper.
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  5. Add the thyme (if using), bay leaf, tomatoes and their juices, lentils, and broth and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes or until the lentils and vegetables are soft.
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  7. Check to see if the soup needs any additional, broth, salt, or pepper, and finish with a drizzle of vinegar.
  8. Optional: Add spinach and stir until wilted.


If you like, purée half of the soup in a blender and add it back to the pot for a creamier texture.


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