Lentil Soup with Chicken Sausage
Every now and then, I come across someone who has never had (or heard of!) lentils and my reaction is always the same–something bordering on shock, I’m sure. Of course, when you grow up in the supposed lentil capitol of the world, it can be no surprise that these tiny legumes were a regular staple in my family growing up.
Nutritionally speaking, lentils are ridiculously good for you. Just one serving (1/2 cup cooked), provides complex carbohydrates, 8 g of fiber, 9 g of protein, and a host of vitamins and minerals, such as potassium, iron, a range of B vitamins, magnesium, phosphorus…and all for a mere 115 calories! If you are trying to lose weight or boost your health, lentils simply must be on your grocery list.
From a culinary standpoint, they can be delicious. Whether in soups or salads, main dish or side, they add great flavor and are quite versatile. I love them with curry spices, les herbes de Provence, or whatever fresh herbs I happen to have on hand. And as with all beans and legumes, you just can’t go wrong throwing a bit of pork in the pot. Even a little goes a long way!
Finally, when it comes to dollars and cents, lentils definitely give you a major bang for your buck. These days, so many of us are trying to stretch the food budget just a liiiiiiittle further and adding inexpensive lentils to your list will satisfy both your appetite and your nutritional needs.
If you’ve never made lentils before, this recipe is great for first-timers. Feel free to use different veggies or try your favorite herbs and spices. If you love pork with your lentils, I won’t stop you. Even one pork sausage substituted for one of the chicken sausages will impart a nice amount of flavor with only a modest increase in total fat and saturated fat per serving. If, on the other hand, you prefer vegetarian or vegan fare, simply replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock and skip the sausages. Just a few tweaks make this a protein-rich meal sans meat.
Lentil Soup with Chicken Sausage
1 Tb olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 leek, chopped, soaked and thoroughly rinsed
1 carrot, diced
3 ribs celery, diced
4 fresh chicken sausages (pick a good flavor!)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp fennel seeds
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (or more, if you like it spicy!)
2 tsp dried Italian herbs
½ tsp ground black pepper
½ tsp kosher salt
½ cup white wine
1 pound dry lentils (brown, green, or French), rinsed and picked over
8 cups low-sodium chicken stock
grated parmigiano cheese for serving (optional)
In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and sauté onion, leek, carrot, and celery for 5 minutes. Add your sausage and garlic, breaking up the sausage as it cooks.
Once the sausage is cooked through, add the fennel seeds, cayenne, herbs, black pepper, and salt (if you have a spice grinder, grind the herbs and spices prior to adding to the soup to better release the flavors).
Add the lentils and stir well with the other ingredients. Cook for 4 minutes. Pour in the wine and immediately begin to scrape the bottom of your pot with a wooden spoon to release all those browned bits (called ‘fond’) back into the soup.
Pour in the stock and simmer the soup for about an hour, or until the lentils reach your desired level of doneness. Add additional water as needed to achieve your desired thickness/consistency. Dish up and sprinkle with the parmigiano. Enjoy!
Nutrition information for one serving (1/8 recipe or about 2 cups of soup): 330 calories, 6 g total fat, 1 g saturated fat, 42 g carbohydrate, 19 g fiber, 25 g protein