I've been making this soup for years in one form or another, but until now had never written out a recipe for it. Truth be told, even though this version was quite fantastic, the next time I make it I'll probably tweak it again and come up with a slightly different twist on the bugger.
That's one of the things I really love about making soups, they are so easy to modify, not just to your mood, but also the contents of your pantry or fridge. Have some leftover chicken to use up? Cut the amount of sausage you toss in, and make up the difference with the chicken. Different vegetable medleys work well here as well, and if you're not a fan of oregano or rosemary (first see a doctor….I'm concerned), then use whatever fresh or dried herbs you have on-hand to dress up your version of the soup.
This recipe makes a nice big pot so plan it for a gang, or tuck some of it away in your freezer for a cold and stormy night when you need an easy, filling meal. Toss a simple green salad, and cut up a loaf of warm, crusty bread to complete your meal.
Cheers – Steve
- 2 cups green lentils (French Lentils du Puy are the best if you can find them)
- 5 sausages of your choice (I love lamb, or a mix of sweet and hot Italian pork sausage)
- 2 medium onions, cut into medium dice
- 4 stalks of celery, peeled and cut into medium dice
- 1 fennel bulb, cored and cut into medium dice
- 5 carrots, peeled and cut into bite-sized pieces
- 6 cloves garlic, finely minced
- 3/4 cup of dry red wine
- 1 - 28 ounce can of crushed San Marzano tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano, finely minced
- 1/2 tablespoon fresh rosemary, finely minced
- 6 cups low sodium chicken stock
- 1 - 7-10 ounce bag or box of baby spinach
- 2 bay leaves
- 1-2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (to taste)
- 1-2 tablespoons dijon mustard (to taste)
- kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
- Fresh cilantro for garnish
- A little squirt of Sriracha hot sauce at the end for a touch of heat (optional)
- Heat a fine slick of the EVOO in a large, heavy pot and cook the sausages until they are well caramelized and cooked through. If they are pre-cooked (like many chicken sausages you'll find), slice them into ¾“ slices and brown them in the oil. Remove the sausages (or slices) with a slotted spoon and set them aside. If you used whole sausages here, slice them now.
- Rinse the lentils in cold water two or three times, pick out any stones or other debris, and put the lentils on the stove in a saucepan with at least four cups water. Stir the lentils and cook them over medium heat while you chop the vegetables. Be sure to keep an eye on the cooking lentils and stir them occasionally, add more hot water as they cook if they start to look dry. Start testing for doneness at about 20 minutes, you want them still with some bite, and not cooked so much that they are falling apart. Every kind of lentil takes its own time to cook, so pay attention here. When done to your liking, drain off any excess cooking water and set the lentils aside.
- Meanwhile, prep all your veggies as specified above. Add more EVOO to the pan that held the sausages and sauté the vegetables over medium heat, starting with the onion, then adding the carrot, celery and fennel after about 5 minutes, stirring frequently, then finally the garlic and bay leaves after 5 minutes more.
- When all the veggies look a bit translucent, push them aside with a spoon and add the wine. Cook for a minute or two to deglaze the pot, making sure to scrape up any of the "fond" left behind from the sausages. Add the lentils to the pot, along with the stock, crushed tomatoes, reserved sausage, rosemary and oregano. Taste and season with salt and pepper, and cook over medium-low heat for about 10 minutes to allow the flavors to meld.
- Continue cooking until the carrots are tender, then add the spinach and stir until wilted. Add the vinegar and mustard to taste, then check for salt and pepper one more time. Remove the bay leaves and serve the soup hot, and top with freshly minced cilantro, and a splash of sriracha if you like.