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Italian Lentil Soup

1 cup dried lentils
2 Tbl. olive oil (optional)
3/4 cup diced onion (1 medium onion)
3/4 cup diced celery (2 large ribs)
1 large clove garlic, minced (I add LOTS more)
6 cups vegetable stock (or water)
1 14-ounce can diced or crushed tomatoes
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried basil
salt and ground pepper to taste
a couple of drops of Tabasco sauce
1 cup cooked chick-peas (garbanzo beans) (optional)

Heat olive oil in a large pot then saute onion, celery and garlic
until softened but and aromatic but not browned.

Add stock, tomatoes and all seasonings except salt. Drain lentils
and add to soup. Bring to a boil then cover pot and reduce heat
to a simmer. Cook for 1 to 1 1/2 hours until lentils are soft
(cooking time varies with age of lentils). Add chickpeas if you
like. Add salt and correct seasonings to taste.

It's good with parmesan cheese sprinkled on top as a garnish.
Serve with garlic bread and red wine.

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