Homemade Hot Sausage and Lentil Soup

Aired December 6, 2011

Serves 4-6
For the Sausage: (make several hours to 2 days ahead):
1 1/2 pounds ground pork, dark meat chicken, dark and white meat turkey or lamb
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes, 2/3 palmful
2 teaspoons sweet paprika, 2/3 palmful
2 teaspoons granulated onion, 2/3 palmful
2 teaspoons ground sage (for pork or lamb) or poultry seasoning (for ground chicken or turkey), half a palmful
1 teaspoon fennel seed, 1/3 palmful
Salt and pepper
For the Soup:
2 tablespoons EVOO Extra Virgin Olive Oil, plus some for drizzling
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 to 2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
1 starchy potato, peeled and finely chopped
1 large bay leaf
Herb bundle: a few stems each of rosemary, thyme and parsley tied together
Salt and pepper
3 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 cup dry white or red wine
1 quart chicken stock
2 cups water
1 1/4 cups brown lentils
1 small bunch black, Tuscan or dinosaur kale/lacinato, stemmed and finely chopped or shredded
Freshly grated nutmeg
Freshly grated Pecorino (salty, tangy) or Parmigiano-Reggiano (nutty), for serving
Warm crusty bread, for mopping

Combine sausage ingredients and chill several hours or up to 2 days ahead.

In large soup pot, heat EVOO, 2 turns of the pan. Add sausage meat, brown and crumble. Add onions, carrots, celery, potato, bay and herbs, and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover pot and cook 7-8 minutes to soften vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato paste until fragrant then add wine, let reduce a minute then add stock and water. Bring to boil, add lentils and cook to tender, 25-30 minutes. Wilt in kale, add a little nutmeg and adjust seasoning.

Serve in shallow bowls topped with drizzle of EVOO and some cheese. Pass bread at the table for mopping.

Options: Add a cup of small-cut pasta and omit the potato or add diced or crushed tomato and omit paste. Garnish with crispy broiled kale for added texture.

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