Place the lentils into a pan of boiling water. Simmer for 5 minutes then drain, discarding the water.
Refill the pan with water, add the lentils and bring up to the boil again. Add the bay leaves, the sliced onion and simmer for 20 minutes.
Now add the tomato paste (diluted in a cup of water), a glug of olive oil, salt, pepper and chilli flakes to taste.
At this point you can also add any of the above optional ingredients, 2 peeled & chopped tomatoes, 2 sliced carrots, chillies -according to your spice tolerance levels, a sliced leek and or a sliced celery stick.
Simmer for a further 40 minutes minimum, add the chopped parsley, check the seasoning then serve. The lentils should be soft and the soup relatively thick (thin porridge consistency).
This dish is usually served with vinegar or lemon which each person adds to their own bowl according to taste.It’s generally accompanied by feta cheese, extra olive oil, bread and some kind of fish meze such as the anchovies that we will give the recipe for.