Friday, October 12, 2012

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage

This soup is just perfect for a cool fall day - it's warming and hearty with rich lentils, spicy Italian sausage and a wonderful mixture of vegetables.  Serve it with some crusty bread and you have a rustic feast that will warm you from the inside out.

It's easy, it makes a lot and freezes beautifully, and it's very healthy besides being completely delicious - you can see why it's one of my favorite soups.  Be sure to use spicy Italian turkey sausage because it really makes a difference.  Regarding the lentils, I actually used the remnants of three different packages when I made it this time (I collect lentils) so the specific type doesn't really matter.  If you can find the small green french lentils called "lentils du puy" I would suggest adding some for a quarter or third of the total amount of lentils.  They retain a nice firmness that adds texture to the soup but used exclusively they won't thicken the soup properly.  If you can't find them or don't want to buy two different varieties, don't worry about it.  The soup will be perfectly delicious anyway.

Although it doesn't take all that long to make, I like to make soup on the weekend and have it ready for that worst day of the week when you know you're going to come home brain dead.  Even on that day you should be able to manage heating soup and bread, right?

It certainly came in handy recently as we returned from a trip to Africa and had no idea where we were or day it was.  To show you my mental state, the morning after we returned I woke up and heard a noise outside the window and thought to myself, "it must be the baboons".  These are the days when you need soup.

* * click here for a printable recipe * *

Lentil Soup with Spicy Italian Sausage
9 main course servings

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 lb spicy Italian turkey sausage, removed from casings
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped (about 1 ¾ cups)
2 large parsnips, peeled, chopped (about 1 ¾ cups)
1 large celery stalk, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 lb brown or green lentils, rinsed
3 quarts (or more) low-sodium chicken broth
1 5-ounce package baby spinach
Shredded parmesan, optional

Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, crumbling as it cooks, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, and Italian seasoning to drippings in the pot; cook until onion is translucent and vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, 7 to 8 minutes. Add lentils; stir to coat. Add 3 quarts broth. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more broth by ¼ cupfuls if soup is too thick, 20 minutes.

Add sausage to soup and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.

Serve topped with shredded parmesan, optional.

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