Joe and I eat lentils once a year - on New Year's Eve. Joe's grandmother Lucy believes that eating lentils at midnight on New Year's Eve will bring one luck and prosperity in the coming year. Each New Year's Eve Joe and I buy a can of lentil soup (Lucy used to make her own before her arthritis got the better of her) and dutifully eat a spoonful (and feed some to Roy, Roger and Tucker too) when the clock strikes 12 on January 1st. Each year we take our bite of lentil soup and say, "Mmmm, that's not bad. I'd eat that." But then we never do.
So when I spotted this recipe for sausage and lentil soup on Tara's blog I thought it was the perfect opportunity to try lentils on another occasion. And I'm glad I did - this soup is fantastic! I halved the recipe (the full version appears below) because it seemed like it would make a lot of soup. That was the right decision - Joe and I each had a nice big bowl and there are still a lot of leftovers! The only other changes I made was to sub spinach for the leeks (I stirred in a few cups of spinach right before I added the kielbasa) and to use turkey kielbasa for a little less fat and calories.
I was definitely happy with the way this turned out. It was the perfect cold Sunday evening supper. I wonder if eating lentils after New Year's Eve is also good luck? I hope so, because I could use some this week! :)
Lentil Sausage Soup
1 pound French green lentils (recommended: du Puy)
1/4 cup olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 cups diced yellow onions (3 large)
4 cups chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (2 leeks)
1 tablespoon minced garlic (2 large cloves)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups medium diced celery (8 stalks)
3 cups medium diced carrots (4 to 6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock or broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 tablespoons dry red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add the kielbasa and red wine and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan.