A Lovely Lentil Soup

I went outside early this morning, and it was so pretty.  I suppose that dew had come overnight, and so everything has a sparkly surface over it.  The grass and sidewalks were shinning like diamonds.  I was so... thrilling with how pretty everything was, because I don't think that I have ever seen anything as pretty as that before.  I think that that sort of dew is just as pretty as snow, especially because it's not as messy.  But, oh!  I don't think I will forget that for a long time, because everything just had a coating of diamonds. 
Which obviously means that it's REALLY cold over here.  I pointed out to M that we are pretty good for marching around outside when it's 20 degrees out with shorts on.  Go us.  But, anyway, this lentil soup was another perfect thing to fit the bill for cold days.  It's another one of those harty dishes that will warm a person right up, and does wonders to make you feel better.  I am usually pretty hesitant to use lentils in cooking, but here I decided to give it a go.  The original recipe called for brown lentils or Mexican lentils, but all my grocery store had was red and green, so I went with the green.  I think that this is one of the best lentil soups that I have ever made- foolproof goodness.

Fancy Lentil Soup
Adapted from I Eat Food and I Eat Food
Serves 8

1 large onion, chopped
3 carrots, coined
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, pressed
6 cups water plus vegetarian chicken bullion
1 1/2 cups lentils, brown, soaked overnight
3 yukon gold potatoes
1/4 cup tomato paste
14.5 oz can tomato sauce
1 tbsp smoked paprika
2 tbsp molasses
1 bay leaf
4 cups vegetarian ham
Juice of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp chili sauce
freshly ground sea salt and black pepper, to taste

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the onion and carrot, and sauté for 3 minutes. Add the bell pepper and garlic, and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes. Add the water through bay leaf, bring to a boil, and simmer for 35 minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer for 10 more minutes, until the lentils a cooked and heated through. Serve, topped with parmesan cheese if desired.

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