I was talking to the Chopping Block about lentil soup earlier and how we find it rather bland. So I decided to try to liven this soup up with some spice and lots and lots of meat. Okay, so maybe this is more like a hearty sausage soup with a dash of lentils, but whatever, it's all good. I made this soup twice, once with some Italian sausages from the butcher and once with some pre-cooked sausages from the deli aisle. I recommend the butcher stuff. The photo above was with the pre-cooked stuff.
So I did some internet sleuthing and came upon recipes from My Baking Addiction, Martha Stewart, and Epicurious, which I used as a guideline to making my first batch of lentil soup.
1 1/2 cups lentils, picked over and rinsed
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casing removed
3 strips (3 ounces) bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 tablespoon saved bacon fat
1 large onion, chopped
3 medium carrots, peeled, and diced
1 cup chopped celery
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 diced tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
2 bay leaves
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon graham marsala
1 tablespoon chopped cilantro
1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper
1. In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Rinse, drain, and set aside.
2. In a large pot, add the Italian sausages and brown the sausage until it is cooked through. Remove sausage and set aside.
3. In the same pot, add bacon over medium-low heat until browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove bacon from the pot and set aside. Save 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat and leave it in the pot.
Mmmmmm bacon & sausages.
4. Add the onions, carrots, and celery into the bacon fat, and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic, and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in tomatoes, and cook 1 minute.
5. Add the chicken stock, sausage, bacon, drained lentils, thyme, bay leaves, cumin, ginger and graham marsala to the pot with the vegetables, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the head to low and simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 minutes. So you may think adding ginger is kind of weird, right? Well, my mom really likes adding ginger to all sorts of soups, and it's always turned out fine & dandy for her, so why not? And what's with this graham marsala, right? What's that doing in there? The Chopping Block said you mostly just like her lentils in a curry, so we decided that adding some graham marsala will help liven the soup up.
Lentils & meat!
6. Scoop out about 1/3 of the soup (make sure not to get any sausage or bacon in here) and put into a blender to puree. Mix it back in with the rest of the soup. This part is kind of hard because there's meat EVERYWHERE. It took me a while (~5 minutes?) to sort out the lentils from the meat. So then when I made a second batch of lentil soup, I decided to put the sausages in AFTER the lentil were done, but I don't recommend this because then the soup lacks some of the flavor from the sausages.
7. Stir in vinegar. Taste the soup and adjust as necessary with some salt and pepper.
This was how the first batch of soup looked like.
This was my second batch of soup where I topped the soup with the sausage instead of cooking it with the soup.
I know this doesn't look great, but I swear it was super tasty! I made like 16 cups of soup in two days, and it was gone in a matter of minutes!