My friend Merry-Jennifer is the fun voice behind The Merry Gourmet. She started her awesome blog a few years ago when she began teaching herself how to cook for her family. She wanted to share her experiences as she expanded her culinary horizons, exploring her interest in food and wine while feeding her expanding family. Today Merry-Jennifer is a practicing physician and food blogger, two fields that have nothing to do with each other, but she makes it work. I am so excited that she is here with us to share her delicious recipe for sausage and lentil stew. Take it away Merry!
My husband’s family used to own a barbecue restaurant in the small town he grew up in. The Magnolia, fondly known as The Mag by locals, was in business for almost 45 years, first run by my husband’s grandparents, and then by my father-in-law, Grady. Eventually, as restaurant work often does, it became too much burden on the family, and The Mag was sold. One of the things my father-in-law was able to keep from The Mag was one of the large smokers that was used to cook the restaurant’s barbecued chicken, pork and ribs. He still uses that smoker but this time at his own leisure and convenience. And, fitting with his generous spirit, my father-in-law always shares his smoked treats with those he cares about.
We were treated to a pound of smoked sausage earlier this year, and it was the most delectable sausage I’ve ever eaten – savory, with a nice kick of heat at the end. After we made ourselves stop snacking on pieces of it, I reserved the rest for a full-bodied lentil and sausage soup that my family enjoyed on a chilly night. Paired with a nice crusty bread, the soup – filled with lentils, sausage, and aromatics – was comfort food at its best.
Lentil and Sausage Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
12 ounces smoked (or other fully-cooked) sausage, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped
2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
2 large celery stalks, chopped
1 tablespoon minced fresh thyme
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 tablespoons tomato paste
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 pound brown lentils (about 2 ⅓ cups), picked and rinsed
3 quarts low-sodium chicken broth, plus extra
Kosher salt and ground black pepper, for seasoning
Heat oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl. Add onion, carrots, celery, thyme, and oregano, to drippings in pot. Cook until the onion is translucent and the vegetables have started to soften, stirring often, about 7 to 8 minutes. Add the tomato paste and garlic, and saute for 1 minute more. Add lentils; stir to coat. Add 3 quarts broth; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally, about 35 to 40 minutes. Add more broth by the ¼ cupful if soup is too thick.
Add sausage to the soup and simmer for another 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve with crusty bread.