This is an easy, hearty, vegan/vegetarian dish, great for autumn and winter. It's my favorite way to eat lentils. You can garnish it with Spanish croutons--bits of bread quick fried in olive oil--or as it is. It's great with a salad, bread, and a glass of red wine.
I got the basic recipe from Esperanza, my mother-in-law. I have adapted it slightly over the years, using more pimentón and no chorizo.
1 small (12-ounce) bag of lentils
1/4 cup of virgin olive oil
1 large onion or two medium ones
2 cloves of garlic
2 teaspoons of pimentón picante de la Vera (or to taste)
2 bay leaves
1 teaspoon of salt (or to taste)
2 medium carrots
1 1/2 tablespoons of all purpose flour
First pour the lentils into a pot and inspect them while they're dry, moving them around with your fingers. You're searching for little stones and debris. Pick out any than you find.
Now wash the lentils. Fill the same pot full of water, stir the lentils around in the water with your hand. Pour off most of the water off (careful, don't let the lentils pour out with it and go down the sink) and repeat until the water looks clear and clean. Strain the lentils in a colander. Rinse them. Rinse the pot. Put the lentils back in the pot and cover them with at least two inches of water.
Bring the lentils to a boil and turnd down the heat to medium. Add the bay leaves and salt. Peel the carrots, cut them into 2-inch pieces, and add them to the pot.
Let them simmer until they soften. This usually takes 30 minutes or so, but it could take 45 minutes or longer if your lentils have been sitting on the shelf a while. Keep an eye on the water level and add more when necessary, turning up the heat to keep them at a simmer. You always want the lentils covered by 1 to 2 inches of water.
While the lentils are simmering, chop the onion and saute it in the olive oil over medium heat, stirring frequently, until slighly carmelized. This usually takes twenty minutes or so.
Add the garlic to the onions. Add the flour and stir. Allow the flour to "fry" in the oil several minutes. Take the pan off the heat and allow it to cool slightly. Now add the pimentón and stir.
When the lentils are beginning to soften, add the onion-oil mixture to the pot and stir. The soup will begin to thicken. Turn down the heat to medium low. Stir the soup now and then. You will notice a "skin" forming at the top of the soup. This is from the flour and it is normal. Just stir it in.
Taste for salt and pimentón, and add more if you like.
When the lentils are soft, they're ready to eat. However, like many soups, it will taste even better if you let it sit for a few hours or overnight.