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- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 12 oz cremini or button mushrooms, trimmed and sliced
- 1½ cups thinly sliced leeks (white and light green parts only), well-rinsed before slicing
- 2 tsp minced garlic
- 2 tsp dried herbes de Provence or ½ tsp. each: dried tarragon, thyme, rosemary and basil
- 1 tsp fennel seeds
- ½ cup dry white wine or vermouth
- 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup French green lentils
- 2 cups diced fennel (hard core removed) or celery
- ½ cup Picholine or Niçoise or other small Mediterranean brine-cured olives (or a combination)
- 2 tsp grated lemon peel
- 2 to 3 tsp Balsamic Syrup
- Chopped fennel fronds, for garnish (optional)
- tablespoon oil over medium-high heat. Add Mushrooms and sprinkle with ½ teaspoon salt. Cook, stirring almost constantly, until Mushrooms are browned, 7 minutes.
- Add remaining 1 tablespoon oil. Add leeks, garlic, herbs and fennel seeds. Cook, stirring often, until leeks soften slightly, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in wine and cook until almost all is evaporated, about 1 minute.
- Add broth, Lentils and fennel, stir and bring to a boil. Cover and gently boil until Lentils are tender, 40 to 50 minutes. About halfway through cooking time, taste and add more herbs if necessary. Stir in . Cover and cook 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add salt to taste, lemon peel and Balsamic Syrup. Serve in shallow soup bowls. Garnish with fennel fronds.