Since by now you’ve had plenty of time to bake that loaf of crusty, oh-so-delicious, no-knead bread, I thought I’d suggest a soup recipe that I think is the perfect complement to a hearty slice: Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage. Full of carrots, tomatoes, onion, and garlic, this healthy, filling soup is fantastic to whip up any time of the year.
Before making this soup for the first time, my only relationship with lentils involved the spectacular failure of a curry soup recipe I tried out a few months ago. I thought lentils and I might have to break up, but I’m so glad I gave them another chance. We’ve worked things out, and lentils now have a permanent place in my pantry. They are little powerhouses in the legume family; lentils are high in protein and fiber, and packed with essential minerals. They also do not require soaking before cooking, are low in fat, AND can help lower your cholesterol. What’s not to love?
I purchased my green lentils from Stringtown Grocery, just outside Kalona, Iowa, a little way down the road past The Cheese House (if you’re from this area, you probably know exactly where they make the squeaky cheese curds around here). Stringtown is a small Amish-run general store that sells bulk dry goods, like pasta, beans, and dried fruit. They also have a fabulous variety of spices. Not only are the prices very reasonable, there is usually a horse-drawn buggy or two parked outside at any given time. If you decide to make the trip there and are curious about dress code, I can tell you they have a sign outside to let you know that they appreciate their modestly dressed customers. That being said, I have never seen that become an issue, as there are very few people showing up to the Amish grocery scantily clad. Although I suppose if they have to have a sign, it may have been a problem for them in the past.
I toasted up a grilled cheese sandwich with horseradish cheddar to go along with my healthy bowl of lentil goodness – a very slightly grown up version of the traditional grilled cheese and tomato soup combination. I still don’t like straight tomato soup, but this lentil soup is kicky and delicious. The red pepper flakes add just a bit of heat, but you can certainly leave them out if you prefer.
Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage
Yields about 8 cups
1 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb. turkey kielbasa, sliced in ½ inch thick rounds then quartered
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, chopped
5 to 6 cloves garlic, chopped
4 cups chicken stock or broth
1 cup lentils, rinsed
1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice
½ cup chopped fresh parsley
1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin
1 Tablespoon paprika
1 ½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- Heat 1 Tablespoon olive oil in a 4-quart or larger pot. Add the quartered rounds of kielbasa and cook over medium heat until browned, about 2-3 minutes for each side. Remove kielbasa from the pot and set aside.
- Add up to 1 Tablespoon of olive oil to the pot to prevent sticking, and add the onions and carrots. Cook for 5 minutes over medium heat, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock/broth, lentils, and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered but with the lid cracked, for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Stir in parsley, cumin, paprika, salt, and red pepper flakes. Simmer with the lid cracked for another 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- Using a blender or food processor, puree 3 to 4 cups of the soup until the texture is slightly chunky – you may wish to do this in 1 cup batches, or wait for the soup to cool a bit to prevent blender splatter. This was learned the hard way. Return the pureed mixture to the pot and stir in the sausage. Cook over medium heat until heated through, about 5 minutes. Serve and enjoy!