I learned something new before making this recipe.
Did you know that lentils should be soaked before cooking?
Thanks to SnoWhite from Finding Joy in my Kitchen, now I do. She said,
"Lentils need to be soaked before use – so, bring pour the lentils into a large bowl and cover them with boiling water. Allow the lentils to soak for at least 15 minutes. Then drain.
Why soak the lentils? Lentils have properties that inhibit the enzyme, trypsin, a key digestive enzyme that works to break down protein in the small intestine. Soaking (for up to 24 hours) decreases the action of the trypsin inhibitor – which is what we desire! "So that's not too hard. And at least you don't have to plan ahead too much.
Anyways, this soup incorporates the lentils with Italian sausage (I made my own turkey sausage) and lots of healthy veggies, so it's a protein, fiber, iron, and vitamin-packed meal. Not to mention inexpensive to make and it makes a big batch.
Oh, and it happened to be a HUGE hit with my family. I got compliments on it from all of the kids (a rare occurrence) and Grant said it's one of his new favorites.
Recipe: Adapted from My Baking Addiction and Finding Joy in My Kitchen
1 pound green lentils
*1-1/2 lb ground Italian turkey sausage (Recipe follows)
1 large onion, diced
4-5 stalks celery, chopped
3 large carrots, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 T. minced garlic (2 large cloves)
2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
Additional water to cover
2 (14 1/2 ounce) cans diced tomatoes, undrained
fresh parsley (for garnish, optional)
1. In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.
2. In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and add in the Italian sausage. Brown the sausage until it is cooked through.
3. Add in the onions, celery, carrots, zucchini, garlic, herbs and spices, cook for about 15 minutes, stirring often.
4. Add the chicken stock, canned tomatoes, and drained lentils, cover, and bring to a boil.
5. Reduce the heat to low and simmer uncovered for 45 minutes to an hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender, stirring occasionally. Add water as needed to adjust the consistency of the soup.
6. Check the seasonings – add more salt and pepper to taste. Serve sprinkled with grated Parmesan and fresh parsley.
I couldn't find Italian turkey sausage when I was grocery shopping, so I bought ground turkey and resolved to make my own. It's actually cheaper that way, too. I found a couple of recipes that sounded good and combined elements from both to create my own.
*Homemade Italian Turkey Sausage (adapted from Cooking with Michele and Allrecipes)
1-1/2 lbs ground turkey
1 t. garlic powder
1 t. ground sage
1/2 t. pepper
1 t. salt
1/2 t. ground thyme
1 t. sugar
1/2 t. fennel seeds, crushed
Mix all ingredients together well. Chill for several hours to allow the flavors to "marry".