The secret to great lentil soup is to use your lentils very soon after you purchase them at the store. They will never cook properly if they are too old.
Using a large soup pot, heat the water (or broth) to boiling. Add the sorted and washed lentils and reduce the heat to simmer. The surface of the water should be barely moving.
In a large frying pan, heat 2 T olive oil on medium heat. Add the diced onion and sauté until the onion begins to become translucent. Add the carrot, celery, and bell peppers to the pan and sauté for 15 mintues just until the vegetables are tender and begin to brown. Turn off the heat under the frying pan.
Check the lentils. When they are just beginning to soften, add the vegetables from the frying pan and continue to simmer the soup.
Heat another 2 T olive oil in the pan. Add the garlic, herbs and paprika to the oil and stir it around over high heat until it becomes aromatic, then scrape it into the soup. Use a ladle-full of soup broth to de-glaze your frying pan and pour the broth back into the soup pot.
Continue to simmer the soup a few more minutes until all the lentils are just about to fall apart. Allow it to cool a bit and serve with whole grain bread.
The wine? That’s not for the soup—it’s for you!