Continuing with my "Happy New Year" theme from yesterday, today I would like to present you with a New Year's gift: lentil soup. Not exactly what you were hoping for? Let me explain. In addition to playing an important role in Italian and Mediterranean cuisine in general, lentils are pretty much a required item on their traditional New Year's menus. Their flat and round shape brings to mind tiny coins, and people eat them as a promise for good fortune in the coming year. So, you see, I am not merely providing you with a fantastic soup recipe, but an opportunity to have a very profitable year! You're welcome.
This is the kind of soup that you should make if you are trying to sell your house. What I mean is, the smell that emanates from the kitchen and fills the house while the soup is simmering is so deliciously comforting that your potential buyers will immediately think of your house as a place that they can call "home." Realtors always say to bake chocolate chip cookies before an open house, why not soup? Hearty, filling, and healthy, this can easily be a dinner entree, perfect for a cold winter's night. Pair it up with some good crusty bread or my Savory Dipping Biscuits and sprinkle it with a little bit of grated Parmesan cheese. I'll bet that you will feel your chances of good fortune increase with each bite! Here are a few quick tips for making this soup:
- The lentil soup will keep for 5-6 days, refrigerated in containers with tightly fitting lids. This soup should also freeze well. I like to freeze soups in smaller containers and then defrost them as needed. Do not defrost and then refreeze soups.
- Lentils can be found near the dried beans and rice in your grocery store. If you cannot find French green (also known as du Puy) lentils there, try the health foods section. If you are still empty-handed after looking there, just substitute another type of lentil, but you will need to reduce the simmering time a bit as the green lentils hold their shape a bit better than the other types.
- Kielbasa is a fully-cooked smoked Polish sausage, which can be found in the refrigerated meats section of the grocery store, usually near the bacon. The turkey version is much lower in fat and calories, but it still has a delicious smoky taste. Simmering it in the soup keeps it plump and juicy.
Lentil Soup with Turkey Kielbasa
Makes 4 quarts
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
4 cups diced yellow onions
4 cups thinly sliced leeks
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
2 teaspoons dried thyme leaves
1 teaspoon ground cumin
3 cups diced celery
3 cups diced carrots
3 quarts chicken broth
1/4 cup tomato paste
1 pound turkey kielbasa, cut in half lengthwise and sliced 1/3 inch thick
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and let sit for 15 minutes; drain.
In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is translucent and tender. Add the celery and carrots and saute for another 10 minutes. Add the chicken stock, tomato paste, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Season and add the kielbasa and red wine vinegar and simmer until the kielbasa is hot. Serve hot.