Considering I’ve only consumed lentils a handful of times in my life, saying that I am in love with lentils is a pretty big statement, but it’s true.
The first time I ever laid eyes on lentils, many years ago, I was with a particular group of friends who were—and I assume still are—über natural food eaters. We were a hodgepodge group that enjoyed the art of song and dance: a couple of people were full-blown dumpster-diving hippies, some people were business professionals making a lot of money by day and moonlighting as hippies by night, and some people, like me, were happy-go-lucky gals and guys finding and feeling their way in the world.
Anyway, after one of our outings we decide to stop off for a bite to eat and ended up at an organic restaurant. Someone ordered a lentil dish then offered me a bite. Looking at the brown mushy discs on the plate I immediately responded along the lines of, “Sure, whatever . . . Uh huh, yeah . . . Right . . . NO THANKS!” Several years would pass before I had my first bite of the obscure legume known as the lentil.
It was at Pita Jungle. Again, I was with someone who ordered a lentil dish then offered me a bite. The dish he ordered was Lentil Fetoosh Salad, which is still on the menu today: lentils and rice cooked with caramelized onions, over mixed greens, tomatoes, cucumbers, red onions, pita chips and lemon vinaigrette. That day, my taste buds made some new friends.
Since then I’ve found a savory-licious lentil and sausage soup recipe from The Dutch Oven Cookbook: Recipes for the Best Pot in Your Kitchen by Sharon Kramis and Julie Kramis-Hearne. I’ve adapted the recipe to my liking, and it has become my go-to lentil dish. It never lets me down. Every time I eat it I ask myself—head cocked like a dog—“Why do I not eat more lentils?”
Lentils absorb and complement a variety of other foods and seasonings and are filling. They’re also rich in dietary fiber and a good source of iron.
Here’s the recipe, with photos following. Serve with Italian bread, which is great for mopping your bowl. Lentil and sausage soup will warm your belly on a chilly night; I promise.
Lentil and Sausage Soup
- 1 cup dried lentils, picked through and rinsed
- 8 cups chicken broth
- 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 2 small garlic cloves, minced
- ½ medium-sized onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise then sliced crosswise into pieces
- 2 stalks celery, cut in half lengthwise then sliced crosswise into pieces
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (14 ounce) package smoked sausage, halved lengthwise then cut crosswise, diagonally into ½-inch slices
- Salt and black pepper, to taste
- Add lentils, chicken broth, undrained tomatoes, garlic, onion, carrots, celery and bay leaf to a Dutch oven; bring to a simmer. Cook, uncovered, for 45 minutes.
- Add sliced smoked sausage to Dutch oven, stir then cook for about 10 minutes or until sausage is heated through.
- Remove bay leaf and discard, season soup with salt and black pepper then serve.
- SERVES 6-8