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the haas machine: Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, & Garlic

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, & Garlic

I know I keep saying that we're not big soup fans, but here I go again with another soup recipe. What's happening to me? Maybe it's the chilly winter breezes that have been lingering around, or the hope of spring (when all soup recipes in our house go out the door until fall). Truth be told, I was looking for a meal that incorporates lentils & I stumbled upon this gem & looked no further.

Have you ever gotten on a little healthy food kick? You know the kind that causes you to pick something up at the store because it just sounds like it would be healthy (quinoa anyone?) You don't necessarily have a plan to cook with it or any idea how to even prepare it, but just sticking it in your little cart already makes you feel like a better person. Yeah, me too.

That's what happened with these lentils. They somehow found their way into my cupboard & after sorting through my kitchen during an emotional organizational stress release session (don't worry, there's definitely a post coming on this), I vowed to eat them soon.

Lentils have always seemed like just a filler to me. I remember soups growing up where lentils were soft, mushy, & flavorless, so I wasn't exactly thrilled about eating them. Even as I was dishing up this soup, I told John that I was doubtful. In fact, that's why I made a side of cheddar scallion scones to go with them. I figured if the soup was a total bust, then at least I could eat my frustration out with some hearty, cheesy, oniony carbs!

OK, this soup is covered in sauteed garlic for crying out loud & it is originally from the Smitten Kitchen, so that should have been my first clue (the cookbook is waiting for me at the library right now!) It's hearty, it's delicious, & I am so pleased that there are bowls of left-overs waiting for me in the fridge because the reality is that winter really likes to mess with my heart this time of year.

Do you cook with lentils? What are your favorite recipes for them?

Lentil Soup with Sausage, Chard, & Garlic
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
3 large links of pork sausage, casings removed (you could use Italian sausage, but I don't really like it, so we went with a plain sausage & added Italian seasonings to it while it was cooking)
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 medium carrots, peeled & sliced into half-moons
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
Kosher salt
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup brown lentils, sorted & rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Parmesan cheese to finish

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot on medium. Cook the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, & a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the vegetables soften a bit, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, & more salt & black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer & allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

When the lentils are cooked, add the chard & cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Remember to discard the bay leaves.

To finish, divide soup among bowls, then add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil & 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet & heat over medium until the garlic softens. Drizzle this over soup bowls, & top with fresh Parmesan. 

Recipe adapted from Smitten Kitchen

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