The proportions are for three people + leftovers. Lentil soup freezes very well, so leftovers aren't really a problem.
Wash a half package of lentils and pick them over for stones, etc. I ran some hot water over them just to help start rehydrating them, since it's so dry out here. Set them aside.
We had four tired looking Roma tomatoes (those tall thin pastey ones) that needed to be eaten, so I heated some water for blanching them in the final cooking pot. (Skinning the tomatoes really isn't necessary, but these were non-organic, and the store where they were from is dirt cheap, but dirty, so - govern yourself accordingly. If you don't want to skin the tomatoes, just dice them finely.)
Meanwhile, I chopped a half onion roughly, and tossed it in the blender along with the juice of a fourth of a lemon that was rattling around the fridge. I added some ground black pepper and about a tablespoon of fennel seeds. One can of diced tomatoes also went in, along with three teeny carrots from the garden and four stalks of celery. This was whirled around with about six small cloves of garlic (maybe four if they were normal sized?) and about a cup and a half of white wine.
The fresh tomatoes were blanched and diced and held aside. The pan got the hot water dumped out and a pat of butter (maybe a fourth of a tablespoon?) tossed in the still hot pan. The blended veggies got added, and heated till they started to bubble. Then I added about 2 cups of water, the lentils, the diced tomatoes, and enough water that it didn't look like it'd stick. Then I brought it to the boil and tasted it for salt. I think I added maybe a teaspoon total of salt.
Then, it just simmered until the lentils were cooked. At the end, some sliced precooked bratwurst was added. I think Italian sausage, kielbasa, etc. might also work. A bit of Parmeson cheese was nice just for that final kick of salt.
So - good points: The blended goop added texture, and meant that the lentils were lovely little discs instead of lost in the chunks of veggies. The fennel amount was just about right, and easily tested since the goop could be tasted. The diced tomatoes added textural interest. bad points: The lentils were still a teeny bit tough by the time we served dinner. The hard water here and the dryness do not help beans cook quickly at all.
Jazzing it up: Omit the onions from the veggie glop and fry them in the cooking pan instead until lightly browned. Kale / spinach / beet greens or another sturdy dark green veggie could be added near the end. The broth is primarily reddish, so green or yellow would compliment it nicely. One could fry yellow squash until it browns in a pan with salt and garlic and add it too. Croutons would be another nifty addition. If you like bell pepper, a finely chopped mix of colored bell peppers would be nice. You could even make a really ritzy meal (in winter) by doing an onion soup variation. Make your soup, prepare some bread that fits in your oven safe bowls, pour the soup in each bowl, top with bread and cheese and zap in a hot oven till the cheese is brown and bubbling. You'd need a fairly wet soup to soak the bread properly. You could use broth instead of water.
Vegetarian options: Cut out the sausage, and the meal is basically vegetarian.
And now, I sleep.