A staple in many kitchens, lentil soup can be dressed up or down. Some recipes call for water while others only use stock. You can add a myriad of spices, from the classic cumin, to smoked paprika, coriander, tomato paste or maybe a hint of turmeric or nutmeg. You can choose between French, green, brown or black beluga lentils and this soup is just as tasty with sausage as without. What stands out in this recipe is the inclusion of parmesan rinds. The rinds impart a deeply rich, mushroomy, cheesiness that is soul-warming on a gray day.
1 pound Italian sausage, mild or hot
3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
2 cups French, brown, green or black lentils
8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
⅓ pound parmesan rinds
1 bunch curly or Tuscan kale, washed and chopped
In a large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook, turning sausage often until it is evenly browned. Remove sausage and set aside. Add remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the Dutch oven. Add onions, carrots, and celery, and cook until vegetables have softened and the onions are translucent, about 6-8 minutes. Add garlic and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in spices. Add lentils, stock and parmesan rinds. Cover pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, remove lid and simmer until lentils are tender, about 25-30 minutes. Meanwhile, slice sausage into quarter moons. Add sausage and kale to the soup and simmer until kale is tender and sausage is fully cooked, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Remove parmesan rinds and serve. Adjust salt and pepper to taste.