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Heat oil in a large saucepan or pot over low-medium heat. Cook onion until transparent. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant (one minute). Add the carrot and celery and cook until softened (about 8 minutes).(If adding any meats, do so now and brown before continuing next step.)
Mix the lentils through the flavours in the pot, allowing them to cook for a couple of minutes, while stirring occasionally (add in 1 tablespoon of extra oil if needed).
Add in the tomatoes and cook until soft, then add the potatoes and allow them to cook for further 4-5 minutes.
Mix through all remaining ingredients except the salt and pepper. Increase heat; bring to a simmer while stirring occasionally to prevent sticking to the bottom.
When the soup has been simmering for 2-3 minutes, reduce heat down to low, cover with a lid allow simmer for 40-50 minutes, while occasionally stirring, until lentils and potatoes are soft.
To thicken soup, use a potato masher, pressing down 3 or 4 times through the soup until reaching your desired thickness or consistency. (You can also use a stick blender: 2-3 quick pulses.)
Season with salt and pepper, to your tastes. Garnish with a little extra parsley (if you wish) and serve with garlic bread!