I suppose it’s that time of the year again when we crave warm cozy meals. this is perfect for sunday dinner (or any night ) will feed about 6-8 people nicely. freezes perfectly. and served with a beautiful salad and some bread it’s an awesome meal. i make so many soups and will be following up throughout the winter with all of my wonderful soup recipes, but this one is really special. the lentils add a wonderful flavor and texture, the sausage adds a savory spice. i mix hot and sweet sausage but feel free to go all sweet, i also like the sausage to have some fennel in it, i use italian pork sausage. you can obviously substitute with turkey or chicken sausage. so cozy on up to this one, it’s a true keeper. I believe this recipe came from a cookbook by julia della croce, who has the most awesome italian recipes. i’ve made a few changes for myself, but maybe you will too. this is filling enough as a meal which is how we eat it.
1/2 lb. (1 1/2 cups) lentils
10 cups chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 lb. sausage, I used 1/2 sweet and 1/2 spicy italian pork sausage , feel free to use turkey sausage /chicken sausage. I like fennel in my sausage, so the italian ones usually have it. i have made it with turkey and it’s delicious.
3 tablespoons olive oil , You may need a little more after you cook the sausage. (see directions)
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 onion chopped (yellow)
1 large celery stalk chopped ( leaves included)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1 16 oz. can plum tomatoes, i use the chopped, peeled and seeded ones, along with the juice.
1/2 cup ditalini or any little pasta
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
some flat leaf parsley chopped up (optional)
grated fresh parmesan cheese (optional)
pick over the lentils, remove any stones, imperfect ones, etc. wash the lentils in cold water ( I use a colander to pick through) Transfer to a large pot ( my trusty Le Creuset) large dutch oven. Cover the lentils with broth and add the bay leaf. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer immediately. Simmer for about 15 minutes. while the soup is cooking , remove sausage from it’s casing ( butcher can do this for you as well) In a large ample frying pan, put the 2 tablespoons of olive oil and when the olive oil is heated up , put in sausage, and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook for about 10 minutes. Remove sausage from the pan with a slotted spoon. Leave whatever oil is still in the pan, should be about 1 tablespoon. I usually add a little more olive oil here about 1 more tablespoon should do it. then add the garlic, onion, celery, and thyme and saute till vegetables are softened, about 8 minutes. When veggies are softened, return sausage to the pan. in a bowl or measuring cup i take a few ladles of broth out of pot and mix the 3 tablespoons of tomato paste into it. then add to sausage mixture . add all ingredients into lentil/broth plus can of chopped tomatoes in their juice. let all ingredients blend together and bring back to a low boil, then simmer for about an hour. before i serve it i return to a boil and add pasta, it only takes about 8 minutes for pasta to cook through. discard the bay leaf, ladle into soup bowls, add freshly grated parmesan cheese and you’re good to go with a super authentic italian soup. we eat it as a meal alongside salad and some very good bread
*should serve 6- 8 as a meal, with a little left over to freeze