January 1, 2010
I think if you live in the midwest (or any place where the mercury dips below freezing three to four months of the year) you are conditioned to welcome the sights, aromas and deliciousness that is a steaming bowl of soup. Here in Northeast Ohio, in the dead of a winter’s chill, I crave chicken noodle, hearty minestrone, tomato basil and any soup chock full of beans, legumes and grains. A favorite in my house is this recipe I’d like to share—Spicy Sausage Lentil Soup. Because everyone deserves a darn good bowl of lentil soup, don’t they?
This soup is so good I’ve made it in late summer (I suppose in yearning for the reprieve of cool, crisp fall air). It is brimming with tender vegetables, meaty lentils, and homey seasonings. The spicy Italian turkey sausage “beefs” it up a bit, though you could opt to leave it out and use vegetable stock for a vegetarian friendly version. I guarantee you will still be licking your bowl clean.
I recommend enjoying this soup out of an oversized mug while parked on the couch under three pounds of blankets wearing your most adored unflattering flannel pajamas (or wearing your new Snuggie if that’s how you roll). Does it matter that it is only 6:30 and you’re in your pjs? Absolutely not. They are essential to the flavor profile. A hunk of crusty bread would also be good, along with a side of snow storm and howling wind. Soup tastes so much better when the white stuff’s flying. It is even more delicious the next day and the next, after the flavors have met, married and cozied.
Spicy Sausage Lentil Soup
- 1 T olive oil
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 lb hot (or sweet) Italian turkey sausage (casings removed)
- 1/2 tsp dried red pepper flakes (optional)*
- 8 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups dried brown lentils
- 1 28-oz can diced tomatoes in puree
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp dried oregano
- 1/2 tsp fennel seeds, crushed
- 2 bay leaves
In a stock pot or large dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium heat. Saute carrot, celery, onion, and garlic until soft and translucent. Remove vegetables from pot and set aside.
Saute sausage until browned, using a fork to crumble. Add red pepper flakes and saute 1 minute. Return cooked vegetables to pot, along with remaining ingredients (chicken stock through bay leaves). Bring to a boil then simmer, uncovered, for 30-45 minutes or until the lentils are tender and soup thickens.
Remove bay leaves, check seasonings, and serve. Top with freshly grated Parmesan or Romano cheese, if desired.
*Adding the red pepper flakes will definitely give the soup a kick. Omit if you’re not crazy about heat, or if you’re feeding little mouths.