I stood at the counter like a pregnant cliché, turquoise apron covering my rapidly growing belly, eating dill pickles from the jar and staring down my menu plan, which informed me dinner tonight was Sausage and Lentil Soup. I typically put the cookbook or source in parenthesis behind the menu item but in this case, nothing. Interesting. Surely I was thinking of something slightly more specific when I put this on the menu weekend last weekend, but my memory is more spotty than usual, so I shrugged and got to work chopping an onion, as nearly all my soups begin here. As I’ve increased my confidence in the kitchen, I’ve often created recipes by googling the main ingredients to quickly crowd-source ideas, then paired with my own knowledge to develop. After all, I’m certainly not the first person to think of putting sausage and lentils together for dinner.
This soup is exceptionally hearty, more like stew really, and the garlic oil and Parmesan take it to the next level. The garlic oil idea comes from Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, in her infinite wisdom of stepped-up home cooking.
I’m beyond looking forward to spring and the farmer’s market, but I’ll miss the frequency of soups in our dinner rotation. A one-pot meal is an evening gift for busy parents, and this particular soup left us with very little clean up. It’s plenty filling on its own, but I’d recommend siding it with crusty bread and fresh fruit. Also, if this sounds delicious but you’re vegetarian (my husband used to be!), this is still worth making sans sausage.
Sausage and Lentil Soup with Kale + Parmesan
2 tablespoons olive oil, split
12 oz Italian sausage, diced (Applegate’s chicken and turkey sausage is excellent here, otherwise any sausage without casing will do)
1 medium yellow onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, or 1/2 teaspoon dried
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
pinch crushed red pepper
freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 (28 oz) can crushed tomatoes (you can make stewed or petite diced work, too), including liquid
4 cups chicken broth (vegetable broth or even water would work, too)
2 cups brown lentils
1 cup kale, finely minced
freshly shaved Parmesan, to top (optional)
fresh ribbons of basil, to top (optional)
1/4 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, sliced as thinly as possible
Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a larger saute pan over medium heat. Cook the sausage until warm and cooked through (Applegate’s Italian chicken and turkey sausage is already cooked through; in this case saute until warm).
Warm 1 tablespoon olive oil in a dutch oven or soup pot over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and cook until softened, about 5 – 6 minutes. Add 2 cloves crushed garlic and cook for one minute more. Add dried basil, oregano, fresh or dried thyme, sea salt, crushed red pepper and black pepper and cook for an additional minute, until fragrant.
Add can of tomatoes and chicken broth. A note about the tomatoes – if you use crushed or petite diced, just stir. If you use stewed and sliced, mash them up with the back of the spoon until no large chunks remain. Bring liquid to a boil, the immediately reduce to simmer.
Add sausage from saute pan and lentils, stirring to combine. Simmer uncovered for 30 – 35 minutes, until lentils are tender.
In the last minute of cooking, add kale. Try to cut the kale as tiny as possible. Turn the heat off and put the lid on.
In the same pan you cooked the sausage in, heat up 1/4 cup olive oil over medium-low. Add 2 cloves of sliced garlic and let it sizzle and soften for a minute, but don’t let it brown. Remove from heat.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a drizzle of garlic oil, freshly shaved Parmesan (a vegetable peeler works great for shaving Parmesan) and fresh basil cut into ribbons.