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Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Escarole

May 31, 2011

Gotta love Berkeley weather: the last week, heck, even the last 24 hours, have been all over the place: rain, tantalizing glimpses of sun, and more rain. With the end of the school year, the town is over-run with damp undergrads loading up damp U-Hauls.

Luckily, I have a cozy apartment (we moved in during March’s rain-showers) and the rain provides an excuse to put on a sweater, shut the windows and make soup. This lentil soup doesn’t take long to make, but it really hits the “comfort food” spot: a savory broth brimming with veggies, sausage and escarole.

Escarole is one of those under-appreciated greens. The texture is not unlike bok-choy, and its crunchiness holds up really well in soup. I also love it wilted and tossed with some pasta and parmesan.

And the garlic – did I mention the garlic? The recipe called for 4 cloves, I used 6. It’s good for your immune system, and testing how much your family really loves you, or how much they really love garlic.

I find it hard to pass up any recipe with Italian Sausage. However, this could easily be made vegetarian by omitting the sausage and add some anise or fennel to mimic the flavor. I was able to get loose sausage meat at Berkeley Bowl, but you could also remove the casings or just cut them into chunks.

I had a bumper crop of Italian parsley so I threw some in the pot. Definitely a good call, if a subtle one.

Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage and Escarole

Makes about 8 servings
Adapted from Gourmet, via Epicurious

1⅔ cups lentils (11 ounces), rinsed well
5 cups water
3½ cups chicken or vegetable stock
1 bay leaf
4-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided in half
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat, loose
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons tomato paste
¼ cup italian/flat-leaf parsley, chopped
½ pound escarole, chopped (4 cups packed)
1 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

1. Simmer lentils, water, stock, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4-quart pot, uncovered, for 12 minutes.
2. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed 5-6 quart pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown sausage, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl. Pour off excess grease, leaving 1-2 Tablespoons in the pot.
3. Over medium heat, cook onion, carrots, celery, remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened,  5-10 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, for 2 minutes. Add sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.
4. Stir in escarole and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Discard bay leaf.
5. Eat immediately or reheat after a night in the fridge (like a lot of soups, this improves with age). Serve with garlic bread and/or bruschetta.

One Comment leave one →
  1. Dee permalink
    February 18, 2012 6:50 pm

    How long are the lentils cooked for?

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