Sometimes I think I should have named this the Blog of Ugly Food. Chilaquiles; Split Pea Soup; Baingan Bharta; and now Lentil-Sausage Stew.
I last made this soup a few weeks ago, but I've spent the past three days huddled on my couch with the mother of all chest colds. While I've been eating little more than soup, it's been basic noodles in broth, and I've been longing for another bowl of this.
This soup—really more of a stew, as it's very thick and chunky—is a family tradition from the same origin as these oat cookies. I've changed the recipe over the years: I use white wine instead of red (although my mom usually decreases the amount or eliminates it entirely); I've increased the vegetables and decreased the amount of sausage; and I use stock (preferably homemade) instead of dried bouillon. In the nine years that I didn't eat meat, I left out the sausage (and even occasionally substituted vegetarian substitutes)
This soup quickly became a tradition in chilly Alaskan winters; not only is it warm, comforting, and easy, but it's even better a day or two after you make it.
From a photocopied page of an unknown cookbook. If you like, cut a few slices of sausage on a diagonal, sear just before serving and use them to top the stew. If you leave out the sausage, you may want to add a little bit of smoked salt to finish.
8 ounces dry brown lentils (1¼ cups)
12 ounces smoked kielbasa or Polish sausage, halved and thinly sliced (optional)
3 large carrots, chopped (about 1½ cups)
4 cups vegetable or chicken stock, or a mixture of stock and water, divided
1 bay leaf
4 tablespoons butter
½ large onion, diced (about 1 ½ cups)
3 stalks celery, chopped (1 generous cup)
3 tablespoons flour
½ cup white wine
salt & pepper
Rinse and drain the lentils. Combine with the sliced sausage and carrots in a 4 quart dutch oven or heavy oven-safe pot. Add 3 cups of the stock and the bay leaf and bring to a boil; lower heat, cover and simmer 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the onion and celery until tender but not browned, about 10 minutes. Add the flour and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring constantly. Add the remaining 1 cup stock and the wine; cook, stirring often, until thickened and just brought to a boil, 3-4 minutes more.
Stir the onion mixture into the stew. Season to taste with salt and pepper, then transfer to the oven. Bake, uncovered, at least 40 minutes, stirring from time to time.
Garnish with seared sausage if desired. Serve with sour cream and warm bread.
Serves 6 or more