In Our Kitchen: Lentil Soup With Spicy Italian Sausage recipe
ILEANA MORALES | Special to the Times
Hearty Lentil Soup With Spicy Italian Sausage comes together in about an hour. The beauty: Leftovers are just as good if not better.
Back on land after a rum-soaked trip to the Bahamas, my stomach growled, but for the first time in a few long days, dinner would require more effort; there was no pizza at the ready. Easy, breezy cruise life was over but I couldn't yet deal with groceries and cooking dinner. I needed to ease back into real life. I needed takeout.
And if I'm going to pay for delivery, I may as well order enough for my husband and I to have leftovers for the next day. As part of my plan, I ended up with a quart of lentil soup. I've always loved lentil soup, even after a friend called it dirt soup.
But convenience sometimes sacrifices other important factors, like flavor. This takeout lentil soup was bland. I doctored up the takeout version with grated cheese, avocado and a squeeze of lemon juice.
I knew I could do better. When making the soup myself, my first efforts to amp up the flavor of lentils involved adding bacon or sausage. A bit of meat adds texture, too, and the lentils take on the fatty smokiness very well.
Lentils show up in our kitchen a lot, most often the petite French green ones for a salad. Those hold their shape well in that kind of dish, but the more common green lentils are better for soup. This is the kind of thing I could eat every week, and it doesn't take long to make — it should be on the table in an hour. Leftovers are just as good if not better.
The recipe I adapted called for parsnips, which I never keep around the house. If you do, dice a couple of big ones and stir them into the soup. Potatoes would also be great here, though I found this soup to be hearty enough from the protein-packed lentils and sausage.
Ileana Morales Valentine lives in St. Petersburg with her husband. For more of their kitchen stories, visit her blog, ALittleSaffron.com. Say hello at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2016 Tampa Bay Times
Lentil Soup With Spicy Italian Sausage
For a meatier soup, instead of dicing the sausage, remove the links from their casings and break up the sausage with a wooden spoon until you have crumbled brown bits of sausage. If you're sensitive to spice, feel free to swap in a mild Italian sausage. If you're low on broth, make up the difference with water. You may just need to add an extra pinch of salt.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage, chopped into ½-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 leeks, chopped
2 or 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped (about 1 ¾ cups)
2 large celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 ½ teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend (a mix of dried herbs such as oregano, marjoram, basil, rosemary and thyme)
1 pound green or brown lentils (about 2 ⅓ cups)
3 quarts (or more, if needed) chicken broth
A couple handfuls of chopped kale (or spinach)
Salt and pepper, to taste
Parmigiano-Reggiano, for serving
Toast, for serving
Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large pot (about 7 quarts) over medium-high heat. Add sausage and stir occasionally, cooking until it browns, 5 to 8 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl.
Add onion, leeks, carrots, celery and Italian seasoning blend to drippings in pot; cook until onion is translucent and vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, 7 to 8 minutes. Add lentils, stirring to coat. Add 3 quarts broth. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, and adding more broth by ¼ cupfuls if soup becomes too thick. This will take about 20 minutes.
Add cooked sausage and kale to soup and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using spinach or another green that wilts quickly, add after seasoning and cook soup for another 3 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls and generously grate cheese over each bowl. Serve with toast.
Source: Recipe adapted from Bon Appétit magazine