Hearty winter soup

I discovered a version of this soup on one of my favorite food blogs, Cannelle et Vanille. This soup captures a warmth that comes from the spicy sausage and earthy lentils. The addition of the sweet potato gives it a heartiness and slight sweetness to balance the spice in the sausage.

This is now one of our go-to soups. I choose to use turkey kielbasa in my soup, but you can use spanish chorizo, andouille, or any other pre-cooked spicy sausage in its place.

One of the great things about this soup is that you can mold it around what you have available in your pantry. While certain ingredients like lentils and sausage make the soup what it is, you can easily add things like parsnips, turnips, and butternut squash to it. I wouldn’t suggest using JUST parsnips or turnips, but if you add them in with sweet potato or a butternut squash, it would be really good. I just never remember to buy those items when I’m at the store but I almost always have some sweet potatoes.

If you wanted to make this vegetarian, just use vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth. If you don’t want to use a veggie sausage, then just add some spices to give it the kick it needs (paprika/cayenne/red pepper flakes).

Play with this soup! Make your own! There is no science to it…Oh, and one more note, the tomato paste in this soup just MAKES it. I don’t know why, but it just adds a necessary depth to it. Another bonus – the soup is gluten free and so easy to make!

Hearty Winter Soup
adapted from Cannelle et Vanille

Ingredients

3 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
optional – other root vegetables (1 parsnip, 1 turnip, 1/4 butternut/acorn squash)
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 turkey kielbasa, sliced
1 qt chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup French/green/puy lentils
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 springs of thyme

Directions

*Make ahead* Rinse the lentils under cold water and place in a bowl with water for 2-4 hours to allow for a shorter cooking time later when you make the soup. I’ve also heard they digest better when they are pre-soaked.

Once you are ready to make the soup, heat the olive oil in a large pot. Add the carrots, onion, and celery and cook on medium for about 5 minutes until they have sweat a little. Stir in the tomato paste and then add the sweet potatoes and chorizo. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Next add the lentils, chicken stock, water, thyme, salt, and pepper.

Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook for about 20-25 minutes, until the lentils are tender. If you did not presoak the lentils the cooking time will probably be closer to 45 minutes. If that is the case, you may want to wait and add the root vegetables halfway through so they don’t get too mushy. Taste and add more salt/pepper as need.

Place in serving bowls and serve with some good bread or cheese toast*.

To make cheese toast, you have a couple of options. You can pre-toast the bread slightly in the toaster or oven, place grated cheese (whatever you like) on top of each slice, and place in a 400 degree oven for about 5 minutes or so until the cheese melts. You can also heat up a nonstick pan on medium-high, pre-toast the bread (so it has a bit of a crunch), put grated cheese on top and place cheese side down on the pan for a few minutes until the cheese melts and adheres to the bread. (if you try to take it out to early the cheese will stay in the pan)

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