French lentil & garlic sausage soup
Soup for a crowd
De Puy lentils are a great earthy counterpoint to french garlic sausage. I serve this soup every year at our Christmas wine and cheese party. I need a dish that is very good, can serve a crowd and will give those who have had too much wine and not enough cheese something to put in their stomach. Whenever I make this soup, I make a lot of it, doubling or tripling the recipe because it freezes beautifully.
This recipe is very slightly modified from Tom Valenti's cookbook "Soups, Stews and One-Pot Meals." It is easy and delicious, active prep time is under an hour, and only requires one pot to clean. It's a winner!
French garlic sausage, also used in cassoulet, is not always easy to find. Here in Southern California, Bristol Farms carries a great garlic sausage in their butcher department. Or you can find it online at D'Artagnan. Otherwise, you can substitute kielbasa or other garlicky and robust sausage.
De Puy French lentils are available fairly widely, but in a pinch you can also buy them online at Amazon. Make sure you buy the real de Puy lentils. Don't bother substituting another lentil as it will not produce the same result. Use a high quality virgin olive oil to get the best out of your lentils.
I do all the chopping in my food processor to minimize prep time. The cut of the vegetables is not as elegant as hand-cut, but it is worth the time savings. You can vary the amount of chicken stock to make the soup more soupy, or more stew-like. I personally prefer a little more liquid. If you have a dutch oven, use it for this recipe. I use my huge Le Creuset 9-quart dutch oven and tripple the recipe.
Not so pretty
Don't let the appearance of this stew dissuade you. It is not very eye-appealing, as my picture will attest, but trust me, it is delicious and just the perfect thing for a cold winter's night.
French lentil & garlic sausage soup
Yield 8 servings
Earthy and satisfying, De Puy lentils are the perfect counterpoint to French garlic sausage in this comforting soup.
- 1 T plus 1/4 cup good extra virgin olive oil plus more for garnishing
- 3 pounds garlic sausage, cut at an angle into 1/2" slices
- 8 cloves of garlic, peeled
- 1 large onion, peeled and cut into quarters
- 2 stalks celery, trimmed and cut into thirds
- 1 carrot, peeled and cut into thirds
- 17 ounces De Puy Lentils
- 2 T fresh thyme, chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 T kosher or coarse sea salt
- Ground pepper
- 10 cups of chicken stock or more, depending on how thick you like your soup
- Place garlic cloves in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add onion, celery and carrot and pulse until coarsely chopped. Set aside.
- Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a large heavy gauge pot. A Le Creuset Dutch oven is the perfect pot for this recipe. Brown the sausage on all sides, working in batches. Remove the browned sausage from the pan and drain on a paper towel-lined plate. Leave the rendered sausage fat in the pot.
- Add the chopped vegetables to the fat in the pot and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Take care not to burn.
- Add 1/4 cup olive oil, lentils, thyme, bay leaf, salt and pepper. Stir to combine and let cook about a minute. Add enough chicken stock to cover vegetable and lentil mixture. Bring to a boil and then lower temperature and cook for 10 minutes.
- Add 2 cups of chicken stock, more if you prefer a more soup-like consistency. Return sausage to the pot and simmer about an hour uncovered.
- Serve with a drizzle of olive oil, a crusty piece of bread and a simple salad.