I'm not even remotely proficient in the kitchen, but I love making soup. I really do. I've made two pots in two days: chicken soba noodle (soba noodles are the best, because they remind me of Campbell's noodles), and Rosemary Lentil. The RL is still cooling on the stovetop; it's for the aforementioned Thanksgiving potluck tomorrow night.
My recipe is a slight variation of Arthur Schwartz's from What to Cook When You Think There's Nothing in the House to Eat. I usually end up doubling it, because this is what I make when I have to feed more than six people.
3 tablespoons olive oil
an onion, chopped
2-6 cloves of fresh chopped/crushed cloves of garlic
2-6 carrots, chopped
2-6 stalks of celery, chopped
(with the three preceding ingredients, you can add as many you as you like and/or have)
at least one teaspoon of dried rosemary (original recipe says to chop; I don't)
2 cups of lentils
2 cans or one box of vegetable broth
1 quart of water
salt (I don't like bouillon cubes, so I substitute salt)
In your big soup pot, heat up the oil and add the onion and saute for a few minutes, then add the carrot, celery, and garlic, and keep sauteing. After about 10-15 minutes total, when things are really starting to look and smell good, add the rosemary, pour in your broth and water, and add the lentils. Add the salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, stirring and making sure the bottom doesn't burn. Lower it to a simmer for 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add more water if it gets too thick, or if more people come for dinner.
There you have it: the perfect lentil soup. I like this version much better than the Moosewood, which is good, but calls for tomatoes and oregano/basil/thyme instead of rosemary. But as Mollie Katzen says about lentil soup, it really is gentle.