I wanted to kick off October with a good fall soup and lentil stew is a perfect fall and winter dish that is both hardy and healthy. I had never tried cooking Italian sausage in a soup before and I was happy with the results. The sausage became very tender through the slow cooking process. This stew is simply seasoned with bay, oregano, and balsamic vinegar. The balsamic vinegar gives a nice depth of flavor and the acidity is very nice. The recipe could be prepared over the stove in a sauce pot instead of a slow cooker, just cook it for 2-3 hours on low. The spiciness of the sausage flavored the broth wonderfully and all this soup really needs is a thick crusted bread to accompany it.
Lentil Stew with Italian Sausage and Spinach
(Makes 6 quarts)
- 1 pound Italian sausage, casing removed and crumbled
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tbsp butter
- 2 large yellow onions diced
- 5 carrots, diced
- 5 stalks celery, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp chili pepper flakes
- 6 cups chicken stock
- 2 cups brown lentils
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 1/2 tsp oregano
- 2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
- 2 large handfuls spinach, chopped
- parmesan cheese for garnish, optional
- salt and pepper to taste
- Heat the oil and butter in a pan and saute the onion, carrot and celery until tender, about 10-15 minutes.
- Add the garlic and chili flakes and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.
- Pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
- In the same pan, brown the sausage for a few minutes and add to the slow cooker.
- Add the lentils, bay leaf, oregano, balsamic vinegar and chicken stock.
- Cook on low for 8-10 hours.
- During the last hour stir in the chopped spinach.
- Garnish with parmesan cheese.