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Olive oil gives you options in the kitchen

How and what we cook with often begins with where we live and what lessons have been passed down to us from generations previous. Now, however, we also have to contend with global influences from around the world, whether they be good or bad.

Growing up, our mothers never used things like olive oil, sea salt and other Mediterranean products that we see in recipes so often today.

We have, like most people, embraced the use of global products, but with that comes some confusion.  Olive oil, for instance. When and where should you use it? In Canada we have so many choices for fats, everything from lard to canola oil to butter to different types of oil. Here’s where we use olive oil, and when we say olive oil, we mean extra virgin.
Olive oil has more flavour and character than other cooking oils.  So therefore we use it when that matters, and adds to our recipes. It is often added at the beginning, and at the end. A final drizzle of olive oil on any dish (soup, pasta, roast chicken) adds flavour, shine, mouth-feel and some good-for-you unsaturated heart healthy fat.

Sauté the onion with the oil and 2 tbsp of the butter over medium-high heat until golden;

Add celery and carrot and cook for 2-3 minutes;

Add the pancetta and sauté for one minute;

Add the tomatoes, lower the heat and cook slowly for 25 minutes, uncovered, stirring occasionally;

Add the lentils, stir to coat, add the broth and salt and pepper;

Cover, and cook at a steady simmer or until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes, but this can vary from lentil to lentil;

Let the soup out with more broth or water if it becomes too thick;

When the lentils are cooked, correct the seasoning, then, off of the heat, swirl in the remaining butter and the grated cheese. Serve with more cheese and olive oil.

Lentil Soup

  • 1/2 a yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, diced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 celery rib, finely chopped
  • 2 small carrots, finely chopped
  • 1/3-cup diced pancetta
  • 1 cup canned Italian tomatoes, with their juice
  • 1/2 lb of green or brown lentils, washed and drained
  • 4 cups homemade broth (chicken or beef)
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground black pepper, about 8 twists
  • 3 tbsp freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • More olive oil, for drizzling.


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