No photo for this recipe because I have discovered that next-day lentil soup is one of the uglier things on the planet.
But don't let that bias you against this recipe!
After devouring two bowls of this chunky sausage, lentil and spinach soup last night, I told Brian that I think this may be the first hearty, chunky soup that I really think is worth crowing about. I've had a number of successful experiences with smoother soups, be they Middle Eastern red lentil, creamy tomato, or other pureed varieties. And chlodnik is chunky summertime staple around here. But in the wintertime hearty, chunky soup department, I've been less successful. I've made edible, but not memorable, soups like minestrone, white bean and ham, or split pea. And they were ok, but nothing to rave about. It was more like the ingredients happened to be hanging out together, but didn't really meld into something more than their parts.
This soup is rave-able. It has a great balance of flavors that really complement each other--the vinegar at the end brings out the best in the lentils (like a good French green lentil salad) and the ketchup gives this just enough sweetness that it sets off the sausage flavor. The spinach makes you feel like maybe this isn't entirely bad for you. We had it with some homemade garlic bread--a half loaf of Zingerman's Italian bread sliced thick, brushed with olive oil that had a clove of garlic crushed into it and sprinkled with a little cayenne and fresh Parmesan cheese. Then the loaf was reassembled, wrapped in foil and heated in a 400 degree oven for about 10 minutes. You could also add a salad but since we were in hunker-down-and-try-and-get-through-January mode, we skipped the raw vegetables and just had a second bowl of soup.
And if you want a photo before you'll try the recipe, go to the Food52 blog (which I only recently discovered) and look at their pretty picture. I read through their recipe and used most of the same ingredients, but didn't really follow their instructions (which seemed focused on making it fast--since I made it in the morning that wasn't really an issue for me).
Lentil Sausage Spinach Soup
adapted from antoniajames recipe on Food52
1 large Andouille sausage (mine was about double the length of a normal sausage link)
1 smaller non-smoked sausage, Italian or something like that
1 T olive oil
1 large yellow or white onion, diced
4 cloves of garlic, chopped
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks of celery, diced
2 bay leaves
1/2 t dried thyme
1 and 1/2 cups French green lentils
1 can beef broth
1 can chicken broth
2 C water
3/4 cup sturdy red wine
3 tablespoons ketchup
2 packed cups fresh baby spinach
1/4 cup chopped parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste
1 T red wine vinegar
In a big soup pot, heat the oil and cook your sausages (may want to add a little water to steam them so they cook through without over browning). Once the sausages are cooked through, remove them from the pot and set aside. When they've cooled a little, slice them up.
In the same pot, saute the onion and garlic on medium heat (you may need to add a little more olive oil--it depends on how much fat your sausages gave off) until onion is translucent. Add celery and carrots and cook, stirring frequently so nothing burns, for another couple of minutes.
Add your bay leaves, thyme, the lentils and all the liquids (broths, wine, water). Crank up the heat and bring to a boil, then simmer for about 1/2 an hour until the lentils are tender.
Season with the ketchup and salt and pepper.
Before serving, add back in the sausage slices, toss in the spinach and parsley and heat through. Stir in the red wine vinegar right at the end.