French Lentil Soup with Sausage and Kale
No one really gets excited for lentils do they? They may be one of the most commonly eaten foods in the world, are protein and fiber packed, with no fat by the way, and make their way into some wonderful European, Indian & Ethiopian dishes. So where’s the love? Well, for me it’s right here. I can’t say I was always a lentil fan, but as I came to enjoy ethnic food, I realized that lentils start popping up everywhere and that, low and behold, I really like them. Lentils shouldn’t end with soup, but the way I see it maybe they should begin with soup. If this tiny legume isn’t part of your diet yet, then maybe this classic preparation is a good way to begin.
1-1/2 Cups French Lentils
1lb Hot or Mild Italian Sausage (Omit for Vegetarian/Vegan)
8oz (2-3 Cups) Kale stems removed and cut into ribbons
1 Large Leek diced
3 Carrots shredded
3 stalks Celery diced
1 Tbs Red Wine Vinegar
3 Bay Leaves
1 Tbs Thyme
1/4 Tspn Red Pepper Flakes
4 Tbs (Divided) Olive Oil
6-7 Cups Water
Salt and Pepper
There are quite a few different types of lentils out there and I can’t say that I’m an expert on any of them, but I can tell you that if you don’t want your soup getting too mushy, then stick with French lentils or beluga. Belugas are also know as black lentils and are a bit hard to find, but hold their shape wonderfully. I usually have a jar of French lentils on hand that I buy in bulk and use them in soups and as a side by themselves or tossed with vegetables.
First, make sure you always wash and pick through your lentils. Rarely, they can be mixed in with small stones. I say rarely because I have only ever found 1 stone, but trust me it’s better for you to find the stone with your hands rather than your teeth.
Remove the casing from your sausage, which just looks awful when you take a picture of it… but still do it, it will make breaking it up in the pot a cinch. Heat 2 Tbs of olive oil in the pot and sear the sausage on both sides before breaking it apart. If you try too early then it just starts sticking to your spoon. Remove the sausage with a slotted spoon, reserving the fat.
Add the red pepper flakes to the sausage fat and then the kale. Season with salt and pepper and sauté the kale for about 2 minutes. Add it to the sausage.
Put the remaining 2 Tbs of olive oil in the pot and add the vegetables. Sauté this mix for about 10 minutes until the vegetables become soft and transparent. Add the thyme, bay leaves, lentils and 6 cups of water. Season with salt and pepper, bring to a simmer and cook for 25 – 30 minutes until the lentils are done. Add the vinegar, kale, sausage and any more water to achieve the consistency you want. Cook for 5 more minutes to reheat the kale and sausage.
Serve immediately. This soup saves well and tastes even better the next day.