Friday, October 23, 2009

Weekend Fare: Soup Pot

There is nothing more comforting than a big pot of soup.  It warms the soul as well as the stomach. One of my favorite things about the weather turning cold is being able to serve soup. Most soups are wonderful leftover (some even better the second time!) and most can be made in advance making soup a great food for weekends.

Today I'm sharing a family favorite. We love lentils and this recipe is especially one of my husband's favorites. It's very easy and you can even combine all the ingredients in your slow cooker on low for 6-8 hours - just make sure you brown the sausage first. You could also make this a vegetarian meal by omitting the sausage, increasing the lentils by 1/2 c. and using vegetable broth.

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SAUSAGE LENTIL SOUP

1/2 lb. sausage, casings removed or bulk sausage*
2 Tb. Olive Oil
1 c. carrots, finely diced (or coined)
2 stalks celery, diced
1/2 bell pepper, diced (I like red but any color will do)
1 med. onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 c. dry brown lentils, rinsed and drained**
6 c. chicken stock (or 1 qt. plus 2 c. water)
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. rosemary
1/2 tps. dried sage
1/2 tsp. chili powder
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
1/8 tsp. red pepper flakes

Brown sausage and remove from pan.  Saute carrots, celery, bell pepper, onion, and garlic in olive oil until tender. Add sausage, lentils, chicken stock, and seasonings.  Cook until lentils are al dente to soft - about 45 min. - 1 hour.

Serve with a green salad and fresh sliced bread or biscuits.

*I use a seasoned sausage like mild Italian or breakfast sausage.
**There are several different varieties of lentils and any would be suitable but the cooking times will vary.  It will be less time if you use red lentils - they will fall apart and become mushy when cooked too long.

Just another note: If you decide to use the slow cooker, you do not need to saute the vegetables in olive oil - instead omit the olive oil and put all vegetables in the slow cooker raw.