Smoked Sausage and Lentil Soup

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I have to apologize for the inconsistent posting lately.  I started a new job few weeks ago, and had been going through an adjustment period, mostly with managing my time more efficiently so that I wouldn’t have to bring work home.  It also didn’t help that I was nursing a cold while this was going on.  I gave myself free reign to snack all day long and drink diet coke for dinner, and honestly, hadn’t been too diligent on the writing and photo-organizing front.  Things are definitely looking better now, and I promise I’ll post more regularly.

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By the way, I’m still practicing law so I’m not going through some super exciting career change (like to become a cookbook author or food stylist… some day, maybe).  And yes, I have a snack stash at the office already.

Anyhow, spring is almost here.  It’s been a tease, though, especially because I was still donning snow boots and avoiding slipping on snow last week, and today, it’s supposed to be warm and sunny.  It’s been a long and rough winter, and I always feel sluggish and gloomy towards the very end of winter, so I can’t wait till it gets warm.  But, it’s still winter.  I better show you this soup before it is too late!

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I’ve been experimenting a lot with soups that are loaded with vegetables and legumes.  This smoked sausage and lentil soup makes for a wholesome one-pot meal, and you can be completely flexible with the ingredients.  Next time, I will try using spicy Italian sausage, and maybe add a red pepper.  Since the soup freezes well, it’s a good idea to pack away some for when hunger renders you incapable of even thinking about what it is that you’d want to eat.  It’s quick and easy to whip up a batch on Sunday afternoon for healthy and hearty lunches and dinners during the week.

Smoked Sausage and Lentil Soup
(Serves 6)

2 tbsps olive oil
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound smoked sausage, casings removed
1 cup dried French or brown lentils, picked through and rinsed
1 cup crushed tomatoes, with their juice
6 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried thyme
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat.  Add carrots, celery, onion and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes.  Add sausage and cook, breaking into small chunks, until it begins to brown.  Add lentils, chicken broth, tomatoes, thyme, and bay leaves.  Cover pot and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.

Remove bay leaves before serving.  Season with salt and pepper.

*Unlike beans, lentils do not need pre-soaking and cook much more quickly.

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