When the weather gets chilly there is nothing better than a big bowl of home made soup for dinner!
Lentils are wonderful, as they don't have to be pre-soaked and cook up quickly as opposed to other beans, and by adding vegetables and sausage this becomes a complete and healthy meal.
1 2/3 cups lentils (11 ounces), rinsed well
5 cups water
3 1/2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1 bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links,(or spicy hot sausage if you prefer) cut into slices
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste, OR one 14 1/2 oz can diced tomatoes
1/2 pound escarole, rinsed well and chopped (4 cups packed)
salt and pepper
1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar
Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4-quart pot, uncovered, 12 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide heavy 5- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat until it sizzles. Brown sausage, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.
Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrots, celery, remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes.
Stir in tomato paste (or can of tomatoes) and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
Stir in escarole and cook until tender, about 5 -10 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper to taste.
Discard bay leaf and serve.
This makes 6 servings and tastes even better reheated the next day if you have leftovers.
I usually bake corn bread to serve along with the soup, or you can use croutons or biscuits if you prefer.
* I will be changing my cable provider to a different company today, so I may not be able to visit blogs until the evening. Hopefully all will go well; but just in case it doesn't hopefully I'll be back online soon! Thanks!