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3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
4 carrots, finely chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 sprig/s small bunch thyme sprigs, plus extra to serve
225g green dried lentils
1 L fresh vegetable stock
400g can plum tomatoes
150g pentland brig kale, thick stems removed, leaves torn into small pieces
2 fresh bay leaves
225g ditaloni pasta
1 chilli flakes, to serve
Heat the oil in a large pan over a low heat. Add the carrots, onion, garlic and thyme with a pinch of salt; cover and cook very gently for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Uncover and cook for another 10 minutes, stirring every so often, until very soft but not brown. Remove and discard the thyme stalks. Rinse the lentils in a sieve until the water runs clear, then add to the mixture with the stock, tomatoes, kale and bay leaves; season then bring to the boil. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 25-30 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
Meanwhile, bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the pasta, bring back to the boil, stir, and cook for 2 minutes less than the pack instructions. Drain then add the pasta to the cooked soup, stir through and season if needed. To serve, divide the soup between 4 bowls, drizzle with a little oil and top with a few thyme leaves and chilli flakes, plus some grated cheese, if liked.
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