As long as I can remember I have been a fan of lentil soup.
When I was younger I would heat up a can of Progresso, cook pasta shells in it, and then proceed to dump at least a quarter-bottle of grated Parmesan into the mix. This is not an exaggeration. You know how the bottle has two settings? One of them is the sensible trio of holes that will simply dust your food with a socially acceptable amount of cheese, the other is one gaping hole that is intended for quick and sudden evacuation for large amounts of cheese. I used the gaping hole side. This dish is what my Italian father dubbed “Pasta Fazool.” It was simple and tasty and I am sure that our Great Italian Grandmother is rolling over in her grave somewhere at the thought of us using canned soup and buckets of pre-grated Parm.
For a long time this satisfied me. Opening up cans, dumping the contents, saturating the finished product with buckets of gritty cheese. This got me through most of college… along with a suspicious amount of turkey sandwiches and vodka. Then, one year I got bit by the soup bug. I am sure this was during the first year that I started teaching. I was constantly sick. I started making soup from scratch and it was a revelation. I experimented with everything from chicken noodle, beef stew, chicken and rice, spicy sausage soup with spinach and of course lentil. […]