This is adapted from Frances Moore Lappe's recipe in Diet for a Small Planet, which is good, hearty and well ... it just needs garlic, ham and a few more carrots. Her original recipe is tried and true, since her book is now over 20 years old. It's guest tested. I personally have served it to several dozen
1/4 cup olive oil
2 large onions, chopped
2 or 3 cloves of garlic crushed and chopped (optional)
2 fresh (never frozen) carrots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon each thyme and marjoram
3 cups Seasoned Stock (Lappe calls for vegetable broth -- I never use that I always use chicken stock)
1 cups lentils, rinsed
salt to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 1-pound can tomatoes
6 oz or so cubed ham pieces (optional)
1/4 cup dry sherry
2/3 cup grated swiss cheese
Heat oil in a large pot and saute onions, garlic and carrots for 3 to 5 minutes. Add herbs and saute 1 minute. Add stock, lentils, salt, parsley, ham and tomatoes and cook, covered,until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes. Add sherry (or use red wine, or my personal favorite, beer). To serve, put 2 tablespoons cheese in each bowl and fill with soup. Or grate the cheese on top. Or do both Serves 4-6.
With this soup I would choose a light salad (Romaine hearts and endive with a dressing made from plain yogurt, maple syrup and Indian curry) before it with a crisp white like a Suave Bollo or Pinot Grigio. Serve this with flatbread and a red like a Merlot and follow with a plate of aromatic cheeses and a Petite Sirah.
Or -- just toss it down with a beer.