This is a simple soup created from the memory of eating lentils at my grandmother's as a child and watching her drizzle a thin ribbon of olive oil over my bowl before serving me. I can still hear her saying it was the best part. She was right. Don't skip it or the vinegar. They make the soup.
1 large onion, quartered
2 medium carrots, each cut in thirds
1 bell pepper, seeded and quartered
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
2 Tablespoons sweet pimenton (or paprika)
2 teaspoons cumin
1/4 cup olive oil
2 Tablespoons salt
2 cups French lentils
10 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Sherry vinegar
maldon salt (optional)
Make a sofrito by placing the onion, carrots, pepper, and garlic in a food processor or blender with 2 Tablespoons of water. Blend until you have a smooth paste. If you need to add a little more water to make it smooth add one more Tablespoon.
Add 1/4 cup of olive oil to a heavy soup pot and heat on medium until the oil begins to shimmer. Add the sofrito and cook for 5 minutes stirring often. Add the salt, cumin, and pimenton and cook for another five minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaf, and 10cups of water. Bring to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes.
Peel the potatoes and dice them. Add them to the simmering soup. Cook for about fifteen minutes. Taste the soup to see if the lentils and potatoes are tender. Cook a little longer if either needs it. When the lentils and the potatoes are both tender.
Before serving stir in 1 Tablespoon of sherry vinegar into the pot.
To serve ladle into bowls. Drizzle olive oil on top, then sprinkle a little Maldon salt.