Lentil Soup with Wild Rice and Scallions

Serves 6

Olive oil

4 ounces prosciutto or bacon (optional), finely chopped (optional; fatty pork products are not everyone’s idea of dietary redemption, I know)

1 large Spanish yellow onion, diced

Salt

3 medium or large carrots, diced

2 celery stalks, diced

5 or 6 peeled garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 pound lentils (preferably French lentilles du Puy or Umbrian lentils), rinsed

2 bay leaves (fresh if you've got 'em)

2 tablespoons double concentrated tomato paste

1 (28-ounce) can crushed Roma tomatoes

8 cups sodium-free chicken stock (or water), or as needed

Cooked wild rice

1 bunch scallions, trimmed and thinly sliced

Best-quality extra-virgin olive oil for drizzling

Pour enough olive oil in a big soup pot to coat it generously and heat it for a minute or 2 over medium heat just to warm it. Add the prosciutto, if you’re adding it, and cook over medium heat until the prosciutto is golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Add the onion, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt and cook for about 5 minutes until the onions begin to soften, stirring often so it doesn’t brown. Add the carrots, celery and garlic, sprinkle with 1 tablespoon of salt, and cook for about 5 minutes, until the carrots, celery and garlic begin to soften and the onion is tender and translucent. Add the tomato paste, increase the heat to medium, and cook for a minute or 2 to caramelize it without burning it. Stir in the lentils and half of the stock. Increase the heat to high and bring the liquid to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 1 hour, until the lentils are cooked through, adding the remaining stock during the cooking process until you have added all 8 cups of the stock. Add more salt to taste.

To serve, spoon ¼ to ½ cup of rice into each bowl and ladle the soup over it. Scatter the scallions over the top and drizzle with the good oil.