Peel and finely chop the onions and carrots, trim and finely chop the celery, and peel and finely slice the garlic. Finely chop the bacon.
Heat a lug of olive oil in a large pan over a medium heat, add the bacon and fry slowly until the bacon starts to release all its tasty fat and goes crispy, then crumble in the dried chilli, and add the dried thyme, onion, carrot, celery and garlic.
Cook gently with the lid on for about 15 minutes, or until all the vegetables are soft, then add the lentils and 1 litre water or vegetable stock.
Bring to the boil and simmer until the lentils are soft (check the packet instructions as different types of lentils vary in cooking time. If you’re mixing your lentils, cook for the longest amount of time to make sure they are all cooked properly).
Drain, then tip in the cannellini beans and, if the soup’s a little thick, add a splash more water. Bring back to the boil and simmer for another 10 minutes, then taste and season with sea salt and black pepper.
Meanwhile, pick and finely chop the parsley.
Ladle into bowls and finish with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and the chopped parsley. Serve with hunks of bread for dunking.
Sometimes I add a few dried porcini mushrooms to make it extra special.