Connecting moms in Polk County, Fla.
Last Sunday I found myself at Carrabas in Winter Haven. I always love Carrabas and never pull past the creamy parmesan house salad when you have that, “Soup or salad?” choice thrown your way.
This time, I was daring! I chose soup!
One bite into their sausage and lentil soup and I was not only satisfied but inspired. I immediately knew I wanted to try this at home.
But first, I’ve never cooked with a lentil in my life. And really, if truth be told, I was like, a lentil is a whaaaattttt………?
I mean, I’ve seen it laying there on a store’s shelf next to the dried peas and beans, and if I was questioned on a game show like Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader I would have said, “Yeah, a lentil is a pea of some sort”.
It’s actually what is called a ‘pulse’, which is part of the legume family.
If you’re still somewhat confused (hand raised) don’t be deterred. If you have to break it down to basics, it’s something that’s cheap and tastes great in soup. Seriously, I’m assuring you, it’s pretty fab and my homemade brew found rave reviews all around. In fact, Hubby said he wants to research downtown real estate to set me up a soup shop. Convinced yet to give this recipe a go?
This is what I used.
one pound bag of dried lentils
one pound roll package of Publix brand hot sausage (because my inspiration soup has a little kick and the spice adds loads of flavor)
3 heaping handfuls of bagged baby carrots- minced*
1 rib of celery- minced
1 small white onion- minced
3 large cloves (3 slivers from the bulb) of garlic- minced
2 eight ounce cans of diced tomatoes
16 ounces of water -The above cans filled with water and added
32 ounce box of chicken broth
*when I say minced, I mean chopped very finely with a chopper. Notice all the mincing above, the Pampered Chef Chopper is your friend. If you aren’t so lucky to own one of these babies, first, call your favorite local consultant to order one asap and second I hope you have an alternative to hand chopping until yours comes in. Maybe a quick couple of pulses from a food processor? I liked having everything "hidden". The kids didn't have a clue what was in there which is good because I have one that will not eat carrots. Little does she know she did last night. Ha, Ha! Sneaky mom in action!
Since this is Italian inspired I’m adding some fresh rosemary and oregano (minced of course, I mean the chopper was already there and dirty). About this much,
I keep these herbs on hand, that’s them hiding, growing, behind the blue pig.
I’m sure dry will do if that’s all you have on hand. Toss a bit of salt in there to your taste.
Here’s the break down of how I put this together.
I sauteed the sausage in my soup pot.
There was very little fat from the sausage so I opted not to drain it. Besides, those oils add flavor!
I added all the chopped/minced veggies to sautee a bit in the meat, 2 minutes tops.
This is how it looks:
I then add the broth (be sure to cut off your Campbell soup label for a local school if your box has one).
Add the can tomatoes and the water. I let simmer for about 20 minutes lid on. Cooking the tomatoes a little longer, for me, gives them a deeper flavor.
While that is set to simmer I use a colander to rinse the lentils.
No presoaking is needed with the lentils, which is nice. This can make them part of a spontaneous recipe with no make-ahead time needed.
I then add the lentils and let simmer for about another 45 minutes with the lid on. This is important to seal in the moisture because those lentils will expand a bit, absorbing some of the liquid.
Finish it off with a generous grace of freshly grated Parmesan cheese- because that’s how Carrabas does it and plus, it just tastes good!
My end result. Lillian, my 5 year-old calls it, "Yummy pretty rainbow soup" from all the colors. I'll go with that.