Sunday’s high was 28 degrees. It was cold. This picture of Reggie pretty much sums up what we did all day. Somehow in between curling up on the couch with a blanket and drinking tea nonstop, I also made soup. Soup is a funny thing; my urge to make it begins promptly in October and leaves exactly on the last day of March. I have a Soup Window apparently. Soup is just about the easiest thing to make in the world. I follow the simple formula of broth + veggies + grains (meat optional) and now that I have a beautiful Le Creuset dutch oven, the process couldn’t be easier.
Domestocrat’s Savory Lentil and Sausage Soup
(makes 16 cups or so, enough for roughly five 3 cup tupperware lunch containers)
1.75 lb. ground sausage
3 cups green lentils
15 oz. can of diced tomatoes (I prefer the no salt variety)
1 onion, minced
4 celery ribs, minced
3 carrots, minced
64 oz. chicken broth (I use one low sodium container and one regular)
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. fennel seeds (crushed or whole)
2 tbsp. EVOO
Salt & pepper to taste
Start with your sausage. A word here about this. You need to use good quality sausage. Get to your local butcher and find a deliciously seasoned pork sausage. We go to The Meat House for sausage. It’s fresh, amazing quality, and comes in a variety of delicious flavors. But the other thing about good sausage? The fat. I know, I know. I try to cook healthily the majority of the time and avoid mega amounts of fat in any dish. However, the fat here imparts a flavor and depth you cannot create with broth or vegetables alone, sadly. I’m not saying buy a fatty, greasy, disgusting sausage. I’m saying that if you go to a reputable butcher they will have ground their sausage with a perfect proportion of meat to fat. Just trust me on this one. And if you want to go with a fat free variety, go ahead, but the flavors won’t be as robust. Just saying.
So my sausage here was a cheddar and garlic pork sausage. Brown over medium heat with the EVOO. Break apart with a wooden paddle as it cooks. You do need to babysit this a bit but it’s worth it. The soup is much better with small bits of sausage throughout rather than huge chunks. Cook thoroughly (about 10 minutes).
When the meat is cooked, toss in the bay leaves and all the spices, stir in, and let them sit with the meat for a minute or two. Next add the mirepoix (onion, celery, carrot), stir in thoroughly, and cook with the meat for 10 minutes or so or until tender.
Next, add in the tomatoes…
…and the chicken broth. Stir together to combine.
Finally add the lentils. Make sure to rinse your lentils carefully before adding to the soup pot. There can sometimes be hard bits, stones, or grit in lentils that you do not want in your soup.
Mix once last time, cover the pot, drop the heat to low, and simmer. The length of time you simmer the soup is up to you. The minimum should be at least 1 hour and maximum would be 4 or so. I let my soup simmer for 2 hours, stirring roughly every 25 minutes. Don’t forget to leave the cover on for the duration of the simmer. You don’t want your soup reducing down to nothing. Also, whenever you stir, taste for seasoning and adjust the salt and pepper to your liking.
After your soup has simmered you will have a flavorful, savory, protein packed soup. Piping hot with a crust of bread on the side, perfection!