I was trying to think of a more catchy name for this post. Like "french lentil soup" or something. Because, while the preparation itself was not so french, the lentils I used were of the small, green lentil du pays variety. You can use any kind of lentil you want, I just like those best. But I guess what makes it most interesting is that I went and got a smoked turkey leg to make the stock with, then shredded the meat to add into the soup. If you don't have a source for smoked turkey legs, just use a chicken carcass after you roast a chicken...or just skip the stock making step all together and use a good packaged chicken stock. It won't be exactly the same thing but it will still be a tasty soup. Or you can make it vegetarian by using vegetable stock. You may need to adjust the seasonings somewhat but you'll still end up with lentil soup.
Covered one smoked turkey leg with water to fill up my dutch oven pot and brought to a boil. While it was heating up I sloppily chopped up one very small onion, 2 cloves garlic, 2 celery stalks and 3 carrots and added those in to join the turkey leg, along with 2 bay leaves. Brought it all up to a boil together, covered and let simmer for at least 45 minutes, possibly even one full hour. You just need to make sure you keep it more or less covered so you don't boil off all the liquid. Removed the turkey leg and set aside to cool off slightly. Poured the rest of the stock through a fine mesh strainer into a clean container and set aside. When the turkey leg was cool enough to handle, pulled off the skin and shredded all the usable meat off the bone and set it aside to add back into the soup later. In the now-empty dutch oven, sauteed 1 small minced onion in 2 tablespoons butter. When they were softened, added 3 diced celery stalks and 2 diced carrots and a teaspoon of red pepper flakes. When all the vegetables were very soft but not browned, added back in the stock and 2 cups of lentils. Stirred everything well, added a bouillon cube and a pinch of thyme and brought it to a simmer/light boil until the lentils were just beginning to get soft-about 10 minutes. Added back in the shredded smoked turkey. Covered the pot at this point and turned it down to a simmer. Once the lentils were very soft (about 30-40 more minutes, depending on your lentil type) added 2-3 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1/4 cup red wine. When the soup had thickened to a consistency that pleased me (you may want to add more water or wine if you want it thinner or perhaps let it boil a little bit harder with the cover off to reduce it if you want it thicker) and the lentils were soft and delicious, stirred in 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, let it cook for 2 more minutes, then removed from heat to serve. If you have fresh herbs such as parsley or anything else you like, feel free to stir them in at the end.