A hearty and warming winter soup, Linsen- suppe (lin-zen-soo-pey) is almost a meal in itself served with crisp rolls and butter.

1 lb. lentils, soaked overnight 4 pints cold water 1 ham bone or knuckle (optional) 8 oz. lean bacon, in one piece leek, trimmed, cleaned and chopped large carrots, scraped and chopped parsnip, peeled and chopped celery stalks, chopped

1½ teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped

2 tablespoons flour

1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar

8 oz. garlic sausage, diced

½ teaspoon dried thyme

½ teaspoon black pepper

Drain the lentils in a colander and set aside.

In a large, heavy saucepan, bring the water to the boil ovci high heat. Remove the pan from the heat and add the lentils, ham bone or knuckle, if you are using it, bacon, leek, carrots, parsnip, celery and 2 teaspoon of the salt. Return the pan

to moderate heat and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to low and simmer the soup for 45 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a heavy frying-pan heat the oil over moderate heat. When the oil is hot, add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the onions are soft and translucent but not brown. Sprinkle the flour over the onions, reduce the heat to low and cook, stirring constantly, for 3 to 4 minutes or until the flour turns golden brown. Do not let the flour burn.

Remove the frying-pan from the heat and add about a cupful of the soup to the mixture, stirring well with a wooden spoon until the mixture is thick and creamy.

Stir in the vinegar.

Pour the mixture in the frying-pan into the soup, stirring with a wooden spoon until the ingredients are well blended.

Cover the pan and simmer the soup over low heat for a further 1 hour, or until the lentils are tender. Add more water if the soup gets too thick.

Remove the ham bone or knuckle from the soup and discard it. Remove the bacon from the soup and cut it into small pieces.

Return the bacon pieces to the soup and add the sausage, thyme, the remaining salt and the pepper. Simmer for a further 4 to 5 minutes, or until the sausage is heated through.

Remove the pan from the heat and serve the soup at once.

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