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Heat the oil in a large non-stick pan then fry the onions for a few mins until they start to colour. Add the carrots, celery and garlic then fry for 5 more mins, stirring frequently, until the vegetables start to soften.
Pour in the passata, bouillon powder and the lentils with 2l boiling water. Add the smoked paprika, thyme and plenty of black pepper then bring to the boil, cover the pan and simmer for 20 mins.
Tip in the penne then cook for 12-15 mins more until the pasta and lentils are tender, adding a little more water if necessary. Stir through the cheese, then ladle half the soup into bowls or a wide-necked flask if you're taking it as a packed lunch. Cool the remaining soup (remove the thyme sprigs) and keep in the fridge until required. It will keep well for several days. Reheat in a pan, adding a little extra water if the soup has thickened.