Cardamom Lentil Soup

This soup sparkles with the exotic flavor of cardamom and lemon.

1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 medium carrot, chopped
1 leek, white part only, chopped
8 cups Vegetable or chicken stock
1 medium onion, stuck with four whole cloves
Bouquet garni (fresh marjoram, fresh parsley and a bay leaf tied in a cheesecloth bag)
1 16-oz. bag dried brown lentils, rinsed under cold running water
¼ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
¼ teaspoon cardamom
Fresh lemon juice 
Sea salt to taste
Options: Plain yogurt and chopped parsley for garnish

*  Heat oil in stockpot and saute? the celery, carrot and leek until soft. 
*  Add stock, onion, bouquet garni and lentils. Bring to a boil, lower heat and simmer, covered, until lentils soften and split, about 40 minutes.
* Discard onion and bouquet garni.
* Allow soup to cool slightly then puree?e soup in batches in a food processor or blender.
* Return to pan and season with pepper, cardamom, lemon juice and salt.



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