Lentil and Chestnut Soup
1/2 pound dry lentils 2 tablespoons pancetta fat or olive oil 1 onion, diced 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon 1 bay leaf 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme 4 cups water, vegetable, meat or poultry stock 2 tablespoons tomato paste 16 cooked chestnuts, coarsely crumbled salt, fresh black pepper fried bread croutons (optional) for garnish 3 tablespoons chopped parsley 1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
Soak the lentils in water to cover for a few hours or overnight.
Melt the pancetta fat and cook the onion over moderate heat until
tender, about 8 minutes, adding salt and a little cinnamon if
desired. (The cinnamon will play up the sweetness of the onion,
pancetta and chestnuts.) Add the lentils, bay leaf, thyme and water
or stock, and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer until
the lentils are tender but not falling apart. Add the tomato paste
and chestnuts and simmer for 5 minutes. Season to taste with salt
and pepper. Garnish with fried bread croutons if desired, and
chopped parsley and thyme.