Pick over the lentils and remove any shrivelled pieces and small stones.
Cover the lentils with warm water for 3 – 4 hours. Change water every hour or so. Drain.
Add lentils to a pot and cover with an inch of water. Bring water and lentils to a boil. Boil for 15 minutes and then drain lentils and discard the water they were boiled in. Rinse lentils.
While the lentils are boiling, prepare your vegetables by finely dicing onion, carrot and celery, thinly slicing the garlic and grating your potato if you're adding it.
In a large pot (you can use the same pot you just boiled the lentils in – but dry it first) combine the olive oil and chopped onion. Cook onion over medium heat until soft, approximately 5 minutes.
Add carrot, celery, garlic and bay leaves to pot with onions. Cook for a few minutes, stirring constantly to prevent garlic from burning.
Add the lentils, water (6 cups or enough to cover the lentils by 1 inch), tomato sauce, and the grated potato(or rice if you are using either).
Bring to boil and then reduce to medium heat. Cook, covered, for 30 minutes. Add salt and pepper 15 minutes into the cooking process. Total cooking times may vary depending upon the age of the lentils, and whether or not you soaked them, and for how long. Your fakes are done when they are soft to the bite. For those who want, you can add a splash (1 teaspoon or so) of red wine vinegar to each individual portion