I hear it’s snowing up in the northeast. Nevermind that it’s the first day of spring. I’m sorry (not sorry) to report that it’s been warm and beautiful in Tampa Bay. It feels somewhat wrong to spend 9-6 in a chilled office when it’s so glorious outside. Driving over the Howard Frankland bridge in the morning and seeing the glimmering water, I wish I were on a boat. This weekend I’m hoping to get in some time at the beach.
But! For those of you seeking warmth, I’m not just here to brag about sunny weather. I have soup.
On our honeymoon, I carried Amelia’s memoir, Bon Appétempt, with me and laughed out loud on the plane ride home as I read and related to her stories of wedding planning craziness and finding yourself after college. I haven’t tried any of the recipes yet, but her tip for soups stuck with me. She says you should always top off a bowl of soup with something special or interesting — croutons, cheese, gremolata — something! Here, I grabbed my Microplane grater and quickly showered each bowl in finely grated cheese. Next time I’d go a step further and add freshness and color with a smattering of chopped herbs, but really, the soup is just so good as it is. It’s hearty and tastes like it’s cooked longer than it has. I think we have the sausage, in part, to thank for that.
We’d just returned from stocking up at the store after being away for almost two weeks, but I’d forgotten to pick up broth or stock. Always something. I dug through our cabinets to find one 1.5-quart container of chicken broth. With that accounting for half of the broth we needed, I made up for the rest with water and un cubito de Maggi. This soup, like most, is forgiving to adaptations.
One other thought on soup — do you all make your own stock? I’m trying to be better about using every bit of my produce, and in making this soup I tucked the carrot shavings and celery stumps into a jar in my fridge with the ambition of making stock.
This article on reducing food waste got me thinking: “We are so price sensitive in the store, and 10 cents will swing us one way or other. But in the kitchen we throw out so much money without even thinking about price.”
So true, right?
I’ve yet to make good on that stock promise, but I really want to. I know homemade stock will be better and cheaper than what I can buy at the store. Got any tips??
lentil soup with spicy italian sausage
We eat lentils frequently in our house, most often the French green ones, but the softer and easier to find regular green lentils are great in this soup. I could eat this kind of soup every week. It comes together quickly without much of a mess — totally doable on a weeknight — and as with most soups and stew, the leftovers are even, unbelievably, better.
The original recipe calls for parsnips, which I didn’t have around and rarely do, but I’ll try it next time I remember the parsnips! Soups are lovely because they are hard to mess up and easily take to modifications depending on what you have or what you’re feeling; I recommend reading the reviews, suggestions, and ideas over on Epicurious. If you’re sensitive to spice, swap in mild Italian sausage. Recipe adapted from Bon Appetit.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound raw hot Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 leeks, trimmed, rinsed and chopped
2 or 3 large carrots, peeled, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 large celery stalks, chopped (about 1 cup)
2 1/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend
1 pound green or brown lentils (about 2 1/3 cups)
3 quarts (or more, if needed) chicken broth
a couple handfuls of chopped kale (or 1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves)
Parmiggiano-reggiano cheese, for serving
toast, for serving
Heat oil in Dutch oven or large pot (about 7 quarts) over medium-high heat. Add sausage, browning on all sides for several minutes, stirring occasionally, at least 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to a bowl. You could also remove the sausage from the casing in the beginning and break it up with your spoon as it browns for a meatier soup with crumbles of sausage in the soup.
Add onion, carrots, celery, 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 3 quarts broth. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if soup becomes too thick, 20 minutes.
Add sausage and kale to soup and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. If using spinach or another green that wilts quickly, add now and cook another 3 minutes.
Ladle soup into bowls and grate cheese over each bowl. Serve with toast.