Lentil Soup with Smoked Chicken

"Lentils are a favorite of mine.  The liquid smoke adds a touch
of richness and depth to the soup."


INGREDIENTS:
3 chicken breasts or 4 chicken thighs
1 can diced tomatoes
2-4 tablespoons olive oil
3 celery ribs, chopped
1 carrot, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, crushed and diced
2 fresh tomatoes, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 1/4 cup lentils (green, brown, red or mixed)
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
8 cups water
2 teaspoons liquid smoke
2 potatoes (red is preferred), halved and sliced 1/4 inch thick
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup Parmesan or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese (sprinkle on top of each bowl before serving)

PREPARATION:

1.     Place chicken and canned diced tomatoes in a large skillet.  Cover and simmer for 45-55 minutes. 

2.     Remove chicken from skillet and place on cutting board to shred.  Return chicken to skillet.

3.     In a large stock pot; sauté onions, carrot and celery, in olive oil, until the vegetables soften (5-8 minutes). 

4.     Add garlic and sauté for a minute longer.

5.     To the stock pot; add the fresh tomatoes, bay leaf, lentils, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and shredded chicken/tomato mixture. Gently stir to combine. 

6.     Pour water into pot and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for about 1 hour; gently stir a few times.

7.     Add sliced potatoes and liquid smoke to the pot; cover, and simmer for another 15 minutes.

8.     Turn off heat; add chopped parsley; salt and pepper to taste.

9.     Spoon into bowls and sprinkle with cheese – enjoy!

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