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Country Lentil Soup

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1 cup dried lentils
6 cups chicken stock
2 slices bacon
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, diced
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
3 tomatoes, peeled and chopped
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
1/2 cup short tubular pasta
2 tbsp butter
6 slices bread, cut into desired shape
3/4 cup Romano cheese, freshly grated

1. Rinse lentils and place in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cover with stock and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 30 to 40 minutes, until lentils are tender.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon. Add olive oil, onion, garlic, celery and parsley. Cook, stirring 15 minutes until onions are golden. Stir into cooked lentils.
3. Stir in tomatoes, salt, pepper and pasta; simmer 10 to 12 minutes until pasta is al dente.
4. In a skillet over moderate heat, melt butter. Cook bread slices 2 minutes on each side until golden brown.
5. Ladle soup into ovenproof bowls and top each with croutons and 2 tbsp (25 ml) cheese. Place under broiler for 2 minutes until cheese is melted.

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Country Lentil Soup Recipe