Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Lentil-Sausage Soup

None of our kids have participated much in sports. Both boys played a couple of years of AYSO soccer, most of the girls did the middle-school cheerleader thing, and Maggie was on a competitive dance team for a year. But with the exception of Rosie, who just didn't like it, all of them have played both middle- and high-school Quiz Bowl.

The season has rolled around again, and this year Tommy is playing varsity. Although for some reason few people think of Quiz Bowl as a spectator sport, I admit it -- I'm a Quiz Bowl junkie! I even went to the local tournament last year although none of my kids were playing. (Tommy was still on JV, and Katie dropped QB to take the role of Marian in the school's production of The Music Man.) So naturally I try to travel to all of the meets when I actually have someone on the team.

The only problem with this is dinner. The meets start at 3:30PM, run for three 30-minute matches (which with breaks and switching opponents etc. stretch to about 45 minutes each) and include a snack break catered by the hosting school. Add in an average of 40 minutes travel time and that means that Tommy and I don't get home until 7 PM or thereabouts. And since Roger's schedule tends toward an 8PM bedtime -- he gets up at four -- I need to have dinner ready ahead of time, waiting on the stove. This week it's going to be:

Lentil-Sausage Soup.

(This recipe is my adaptation of one from the More-with-Less cookbook.).

In a large kettle over medium-high heat cook 1 pound loose pork sausage and 2 medium onions, chopped, until meat is brown and onions are tender. Drain off water and fat. Add to the kettle 2 cups lentils, 1 large can (28 oz) diced or crushed tomatoes, 1 can water, 1/2 teaspoon dried marjoram, salt* and pepper, and 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon hot sauce**. Simmer at least 30 minutes***, until lentils are tender.

Slice Italian bread****. Place a slice of bread in each bowl, and serve soup over bread.

* I actually add about a tablespoon of salt, but you might want to start with half that and add to suit your taste.

**The hot sauce is only enough to make the soup savory, not spicy. I add the 1/2 t. of Frank's sauce, but if I only have Tabasco I use less.

*** The beauty of this soup is that it's done in half an hour, but can simmer all day if you need it to. I will probably make it in the late morning, simmer on medium until the lentils are tender, and then leave it on low until we get home.

**** The original recipe calls for Italian bread, but any good white bread is fine. We have used Italian, French (with 2 slices per bowl), and just homemade white. And it's just as good if the bread is somewhat stale.

This makes a large pot, but leftovers reheat and/or freeze very well. Also, this recipe is a great way to introduce lentils to committed meat-eaters. The sausage provides the flavor, and the lentils provide the bulk. And you could probably do variations by using Italian sausage and changing the seasonings. I've just never tried it because this hits the spot so well.


Jen said...

Mmm, that sounds good! It's cold here today and soup sounds perfect.

Branwen said...

We love it too! (Although I have always found that it takes at least an hour for the lentils to get tender. Who knows...:)

Rosemary Bogdan said...

Sounds yummy. I love dishes I can make early and leave in the slow cooker.

Anonymous said...

I think I'm going to make this with some kielbasa I recently "found" in our refrigerator. Good suggestion!