Now that most of my friends are lawyers, rather than law students (and no longer needing to plow through case law), we seem to fill our evenings with girls’ nights at BYOB sushi joints and potlucks with copious amounts of wine. This is all well and good but suddenly almost two weeks have passed and I haven’t stopped by here to tell you about what I have been eating and cooking in my own kitchen. Granted, last weekend, I didn’t have time to make my weekly grocery run so Dave and I were digging out dinner from the freezer which doesn’t make very interesting blog fodder. And the recipes (including this one) that I have managed to make, and take pictures of, have been after the sun has set which doesn’t make for great pictures.
But the huge pot of soup that I made last night was so good that I just have to tell you about it. When I flip through my many cooking mags, I dog-ear any pages that look interesting. Then when I am trying to write out my grocery list for the week, I can flip to the pages and find something new to try. I knew that this recipe was a keeper because I love anything with spicy Italian sausage. This is also a perfect recipe because it requires one pot (a large dutch oven) and just over an hour. And it makes a TON. Perfect to bring leftovers for lunch or to freeze by the quart for quick weeknight dinners.
The original recipe called for pre-cooked sausage, but I went with raw pork, and just de-cased them and broke up the meat into spoon-sized chunks. Also, don’t skip the parsnips, they add a really great subtle flavor.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound hot Italian sausage
Cooking sherry or white wine (optional, just use it if you have it)
1 large onion, chopped
2-3 large carrots, chopped
2 large parsnips, peeled, chopped
2-3 large celery stalks, chopped
2 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend
1/2 teaspoon (or so) crushed red pepper flakes (I did 6-7 shakes on my jar)
1 pound brown lentils
2 quarts low-salt chicken broth
1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves (I threw in 2 handfuls)
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a small bowl. Deglaze the pot with a little sherry or white wine and scrap the bits off the bottom. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, crushed red pepper flakes and Italian seasoning blend to drippings in pot; cook until onion is translucent and vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, 7 to 8 minutes. Add lentils; stir to coat. Add 2 quarts broth. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding water by 1/4 cupfuls if soup is too thick, approx. 30 minutes.
Add sausage to soup and simmer until vegetables and lentils are tender and flavors blend, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes. Serve with a nice hunk of crusty bread or toast.