Lentil Soup

2 tablespoons finely chopped onion

3 tablsepoons olive oil

40g butter

2 tablespoons finely chopped celery

2 tablespoons finely chopped carrot

30g shredded pancetta, prosciutto or green bacon

220g tinned Italian tomatoes, cut up, with their juice

220g drived brown lentils, washed and drained

1 litre broth or beef stock cub dissolved in the same quantity of water

Salt, if necessary

Freshly ground pepper, 4 to 6 twists of the mill

3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Put the onion in a stockpot with the oil ad 25g of the butter and saute over medium-high heat until a light golden brown.

Add the celery and carrot and continue sauteing for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring from time to time.

Add the shredded pancetta and saute for 1 more minute.

Add the cup-up tomatoes and their juice, and adjust the heat so that they cook at a gentle simmer for 25 minutes, uncovered. Stir from time to time with a wooden spoon.

Add the lentils, stirring and turning them two or three times, then add the broth, salt and pepper. Cover and cook, ata a steady simmer, until the lentils are tender. (Cooking time is about 45 minutes, but it varies greatly from lentils to lentils, so that the only reliable method is to tatste hem. Note, too, that some lentils absord a surprising amount of liquid. If this happens add more home-made broth or water to keep the soup from getting to thick.)

When the lentils are cooked, check salt; then, off the heat, swirl in the remaining butter and the grated cheese. Serve with additional freshly grated cheese.