Every winter, a flurry of warm, delicious-looking soup recipes start popping up all over the blogosphere. It must be universal; everyone loves to tuck into a steaming bowl of comforting soup when it's cold outside. After seeing several recipes for this type of soup, it was all I could think about. This batch, which I whipped up on Sunday (a particularly blustery day here in the Windy City), turned out to be DELICIOUS! I've been eating it for lunch and dinner this week, and when it runs out I'll have to find another soup to recreate.
(As you've probably noticed with my recipes, I'm all about customizing to fit your preferences and what you have on hand. Feel free to make substitutions, etc - but I'll post it how I made it).
Sausage, Lentil and Kale Soup
(yields enough to feed one person for a late lunch and bedtime snack on Sunday, lunch and dinner on Monday, lunch on Tuesday, and lunch and dinner on Wednesday...so 8 servings?)
3/4 lb mild italian sausage, removed from casings/bulk
1 T olive oil
1/2 medium yellow onion, chopped fine (I don't like eating big chunks of onion in my soup)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 large carrot, chopped into 1/4" pieces
1 celery stalk, chopped into 1/4" pieces
2 T tomato paste
10 cremini mushrooms, quartered
1/4 t dried thyme
1 c French green lentils, rinsed and drained
2 lightly packed cups chopped kale
2 14-oz cans of low-sodium, 98% fat-free chicken stock
1 c water
1 previously saved, frozen rind of parmesan cheese (this adds a nice silky richness to soup)
Place a large Dutch oven or stockpot over medium-low heat and add the olive oil and the italian sausage. Breaking it up into small pieces with a wooden spoon, let the sausage brown until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. While the sausage is browning, you can prep all your vegetables - onion, garlic, carrot, celery, mushrooms, kale - on a large cutting board so when you're ready you can just drop them in. Remove the browned sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl, and drain any excess fat (you just want to keep about 2 teaspoons in the pot). Still over medium-low heat, add the onion, garlic, carrot and celery to the pot and saute, stirring frequently, until just they start to sweat and soften, about 3 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir to coat the vegetables for about 1 minute. Add in the quartered mushrooms and the dried thyme, and continue to saute everything for another 3-5 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some color and the mushrooms have started to wilt and give off moisture. Add some fresh-cracked black pepper at this point, but only a little salt (the chicken broth will add salt too).
Add the lentils and kale to the pot, then pour in the chicken broth and water. Raise the heat to high to bring to a boil, while stirring the bottom of the pot to get all the brown bits off the bottom. When the soup reaches a boil, turn the heat back down so it just simmers. Add your parmesan rind at this point, if you're lucky enough to have one in your freezer :) Cover, and simmer the soup until the lentils are tender but not mushy - about 20-25 minutes. Remove the rind, and season to taste. Enjoy!