Lentils, the word gives some folks shutters, like it’s only something peasants would eat and therefore should not grace the tables of the civilized. Having come from peasant roots, (sorry mom) I find odd comfort in really cheap ingredients that I can cook into delicious and nutritious meals. Lentils were not in my childhood pantry, but we did use a fair amount of another cringe-causing ingredient – lima beans. Don’t be afraid! My father used make a delicious lima bean ham hock stew that was so fragrant and comforting it’s like a hug. I’ll make some in the near future…
But back to lentils. Low in fat, high in protein, practically a perfect food. And cheap! You can pick up a pound bag for around $1.00 and that will make you a big pot of lentils. I’m sure there is a scientific ratio as to how much they will swell but a full pound bag will make about 12 hearty portions of soup.
Lentils come in several varieties, the standard “green lentil” you will likely find in your grocery store, as well as a red lentil (which cooks much faster) and a black lentil, which I’ve never used. So today, we will just deal with the standard green lentil.
I always cook lentils with spices of curry, paprika, cumin, garlic and bring out that Eastern or Indian flavor palate. Here is one of my versions of stew that I make with them, that is savory, filling and healthy – – oh yeah and easy on the wallet. Make a big pot, freeze it into portion containers and you can heat them as needed.
|Lentil stew, comforting and delicious|
Lentil and Italian Sausage Stew – by Debra Crawford
1 – Pound bag green lentils, picked over and rinsed (you occasionally find a little rock or a bad lentil)
3 – Italian sausages, casing removed
1 – Cup onion, chopped
1 – Cup celery, chopped
1 – Cup carrots, chopped
1 – Tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 – 2 Medium potatoes, cubed
1 – Cup green cabbage, shredded
32 – Ounces chicken or turkey broth (i used turkey stock I made from the T-day turkey in this batch)
1 – Teaspoon curry
1 – Teaspoon smoked paprika (regular paprika will not give you the smoky flavor)
1/2 – Teaspoon cumin
1/4 – Teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 – Teaspoon of fresh thyme (or 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme)
Salt and Pepper
In a large heavy gauge soup pot, begin browning the Italian sausage, breaking it into small pieces as you cook it. When it is partly browned, push it to the sides and add the cumin and curry to the pan to saute these spices and open up their flavors, about 1 minute. Stir the sausage and spices and continue to brown, adding the celery and onion, paprika, cayenne and thyme. Continuing cooking about 5 minutes until onions and celery are beginning to soften.
Add the chicken broth and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce to simmer until lentils are al dente tender, about 30 – 40 minutes. Check to see if you need salt and pepper. You may not as the broth is salty and the other spices you have added along with the Italian sausage may be enough. When lentils are tender, add the carrots, potato, cabbage and parsley. Cook approximately 15 – 30 minutes more, until potato and carrots are tender. Ladle into bowls and enjoy.
|Ingredients (except the cabbage)|