Friday, October 28, 2011

Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage

Hi, I'm Elizabeth.  And I'm addicted to soup.

All: Hi, Elizabeth.

I'm also addicted to eating soup in mugs.  It makes me feel like I'm sitting in a French bistro.

I really have no idea if French bistros serve soup in mugs.

I suppose there are worse addictions.

But that's not why I'm here.

I'm here to tell you that you must make this lentil soup ASAP.  Regardless of whether you're addicted to soup.

I love several things about this soup.  One, it's healthy and it tastes delicious.  I'm pretty sure that lentils are on the list of super foods.  You can google it if you want to be sure.  Or you can just take my word for it.  Other than that, it's full of veggies.  And that's a well-documented fact.

We have a lot of chopping to do, which is good because I love to chop.  I have a thing about knives.  So you'll need onions, leeks, garlic, carrots and celery.

Do you know about leeks?  Well, let me tell you about them.

They're grown in sand.

Which makes them very sandy inside.

Unless you want to ruin your delicious soup with sand, wash them well.

Like, really well.

Or you'll be really, really sorry.

So just let all the veggies saute until they start to get soft.

While the veggies are cooking, it's a good time to soak the lentils.

I'm using my very special Italian lentils that I bought at a very authentic Italian grocery store in Chelsea Market.  Like, the Chelsea Market right under the Food Network.

Yeah.  I know.  It was awesome.

Lentils are sort of like beans - they have to be soaked in hot water before you cook them.  It sort of gives them a head-start on the cooking process.

Now you can drain the lentils and add them to the veggies along with the chicken stock and tomato paste.  And toss in some spices and herbs while you're at it.   Salt, pepper, cumin and thyme.

Let it cook for an hour or so.  The lentils should be tender but not mushy.  Now we can add the sausage part of the soup.

I like to use turkey Polska kielbasa and I chop it like this so that I get as many bites of sausage in the soup as possible.

I'm compulsive too, you see.

This soup tastes best when made in a yellow circa-1970 pot.  It's that old-world French bistro feel you're going for.

Not everyone in my house likes soup in a mug.  So sometimes I break out actual bowls.

Either way, put Parmesan on top.  Just because.

Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage
Adapted from Ina Garten

2 T olive oil
1 lb carrots, peeled and diced
1 small bunch celery (about 6 stalks), diced
2 large onions, chopped
3 leeks, light green part sliced in half, chopped across and soaked in cold water to rinse off the sand
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 T cumin
2 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp pepper
1 bunch thyme (about 6 stems) or 1 T leaves (or 2 tsp dried thyme leaves)
8 cups (2 quarts) chicken stock
6 oz. can tomato paste
1 lb turkey Polska kielbasa, cut into half lengthwise and then sliced into half-moon shaped pieces
3/4 lb lentils, soaked in the hottest tap water for 15 minutes then drained
2 T red wine vinegar
Grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

Heat the olive oil in a large pot.  Over medium-high heat, saute the chopped vegetables - carrots, celery, onions and leeks - for about 20 minutes until they begin to soften.  Add the garlic and saute for another 5 minutes.  Add the cumin, salt, pepper, and thyme and then the chicken stock.  Bring to a boil and add the tomato paste.  Stir in the lentils that have been soaked and simmer for about an hour, until the lentils are cooked.  Stir in the chopped sausage and cook another 10 minutes, until the sausage is heated through.  Stir in the red wine vinegar.  Serve with Parmesan sprinkled on top.

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