2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
4 carrots, peeled and chopped or shredded
2 celery stalks with leaves, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
1 (28-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 lb lentils, rinsed
9 cups veggie (for vegetarian option) or chicken broth
2 cups V-8 juice regular or spicy
1 bay leaf
2/3 cup dried smallish pasta - elbow macaroni, mini penne, corkscrew, stars, etc
OR some diced potatoes, chef's choice here
1 cup shredded Parmesan
Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down some, stirring occasionally, about 7 or 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and V-8 and stir. Add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.
Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is al dente, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.
Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with additional olive oil if desired.