Michael has certainly been looking forward to this soup. It is another one that his Zia made for him when he was little. I wish she had been alive when Michael and I were married, because I would have loved to learn to make all of these dishes from her. He sure does miss her, but for a moment he can relive those times by sharing this wonderful soup.
I have to be honest and say that I really messed up the beginning of this soup. I had a brain malfunction and somehow went from tablespoons of oil to ounces of oil. Don’t ask me how, but it made sense at the time. I started browning the onion and pancetta in the mixture of butter and oil and realized my mistake. So, I ended up scooping off the excess oil. I think I was able to get back to the right amount because the rest of the soup went together well, but it did cause me a few minutes of panic. I added the carrot and celery and then the diced tomatoes (San Marzano line) and let it cook for about a half hour. I then washed the Lentils. We had Italian Green Lentils at the store, so I chose to use them for this soup. They are very small and dainty. I drained them and then added them to the soup, with the beef broth. This cooked for about an hour. It smelled heavenly.
When the lentils were tender, I swirled in butter and some grated Parmigano Reggiano. It was wonderful. It was storming that night and it really was comforting to have a rich hearty soup for dinner. I am especially thankful that the electricity stayed on for the whole recipe!!