- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter, plus 1 tablespoon melted butter
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 5 ounces Serrano ham or lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1 large onion, finely chopped
- 1 medium leek, white and tender green parts only, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped
- 2 quarts plus 1/2 cup chicken stock or low-sodium broth
- 2 cups brown lentils (3/4 pound), rinsed and picked over
- 2 cups firm-textured white bread, cut into 1/2-inch dice
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Preheat the oven to 350°. In a large saucepan, melt the 1 tablespoon of butter in the olive oil. Add the Serrano ham, onion, leek and carrot and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes. Add the stock and lentils and bring to a boil over moderately high heat. Simmer the soup over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.
- Meanwhile, on a baking sheet, toss the diced bread with the melted butter and bake for 8 minutes, or until browned.
- Puree the soup in a blender in batches; transfer the puree to a clean saucepan. Add the cream, bring to a simmer and season with salt and pepper. Serve the soup in bowls, garnished with the croutons.
The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. The croutons can be kept in an airtight container overnight.