Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Lentil Soup

The snow is mostly melted here, but the cold is still stuck to us like white on ice. And I'm still in a soupy mood, so that's just what I've been making as of late. My last soup, potato-broccoli-cheddar, is on that edge of healthy and fatty. This soup, however, is definitely on the healthy side, but not at the cost of good, homey flavors.

Lentil Soup
Adapted from Gourmet Magazine.

1 2/3 cup lentils, rinsed
5 cups water
3.5 cups chicken stock
1 bay leaf
4 cloves garlic, chopped, divided
2 tbsp olive oil
1 lb turkey sausage
1 medium onion, chopped
2 medium carrots, chopped
2 tbsp tomato paste
1 cup chicken, cooked, torn
1/2 lb escarole, chopped
1 tbsp red wine vinegar

Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of the garlic in a 4 quart pot, uncovered, for 12 minutes.

Heat oil in a wide 6 quart pot over medium-high heat. Cook turkey sausages until cooked through (if raw) or until browned (if pre-cooked). Remove sausages from pan and slice on a bias.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrots and remaining garlic with some salt and pepper, stirring occasionally until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently. Add the sausages back to the pan along with the chicken and lentils in their cooking liquid. Simmer the soup uncovered until lentils are tender, 3-5 more minutes.

Stir in escarole and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf and serve.

This soup turned out quite nice. The original recipe called for uncasing the sausages, but I like to see the nice round slices of meat. And the chicken adds some more protein and texture. The soup overall has a bit of a smokey quality. It's hearty but your spoon will not stick straight up in it. The escarole contributes some more vitamins to round out this as quite a marvelous soup. And what better accompaniment for soup than some freshly baked crusty bread.

My local grocer, Harris Teeter, has a decent selection of freshly baked breads. In addition to the loads of loaves, there are also some take-and-bake selections. If the description isn't enough, here's the gist: you buy some partially-baked bread, take it home and finish baking it in your oven. That way you are guaranteed that the bread is crusty and warm. Be warned, the bread will only last a day or so unbaked before the mold starts to get it, though I think it would hold up in the freezer. Nothing beats all the benefits of fresh bread without the hassle of making it.

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