Look, I know you don’t need one more person reminding you that it’s FREEZING outside or that you should be buried under blankets eating nothing but carbs and cheese. But if you’re like me, you’re kind of over the carbs and cheese (there’s been a lot of that over the past few weeks) and are craving something something a bit more wholesome and dare I say healthy to start off the new year.
Alas, the intersection of “healthy” and “comfort food” is often pretty small. That’s where this sausage and lentil soup comes in. It is hearty and filling and everything you want when it’s 10 degrees out. But it’s also high-protein, high-fiber and if you make it as originally intended*, comes with a handful of greens in every bowl. And yes, I know sausage isn’t the healthiest thing in the world, but it’s January and it’s cold and everything in moderation (and you could certainly reduce the amount or omit it completely if you really wanted).
The best part of the soup comes at the end, in the form of a sizzling garlic oil that really punches up the sausage and lentil soup, as well as anything else you might put on it. I made a double batch and have used it on everything — to fry eggs, to saute greens in, to drizzle over roast vegetables. It’s well worth the 2 minutes of effort, and will keep you happy all winter long.
Every year, I make a long list of resolutions and for the most part, fail by March. This year, I’m trying smaller goals that are (hopefully) easier to keep: cooking at least twice a week, working out at least three times a week, etc. I’m really looking forward to being in the kitchen, if only to keep my apartment warm over the next few months. Do you have any goals this year?
*Facts: the original recipe calls for adding fresh greens to the lentil soup just before you serve. I bought spinach, chopped into ribbons, made the soup and promptly forgot all about adding in the spinach at the end. It’s obviously just as good without, but would add some additional wholesomeness if that’s what you’re looking for.
- 1/2 cup olive oil, divided
- 1 pound hot sausage, casings removed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
- kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
- a generous pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 6 cups water
- 1 5-ounce clamshell baby spinach, chopped into ribbons (optional, but recommended -- even though I forgot)
- Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, brown the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon into small crumbles, about 10-12 minutes.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, two of the sliced garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and the red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste and cook for an additional minute or two.
- Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes and water (pro tip: use the tomato can to get any pulp you missed -- 6 cups is a little less than 2 can-fuls). Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (You may need to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though you'll want this to be a bit chunky.)
- When the lentils are cooked, add additional salt and pepper. If using the spinach, add it in and cook for 2-3 minutes, just until the leaves are tender. Discard the bay leaves.
- Make the garlic oil: heat the remaining 1/4 cup of olive oil and the 2 sliced garlic cloves in a small skillet until the garlic softens and hisses.
- Divide the soup into bowls, then drizzle the garlic oil over the soup bowls.