This soup has been a favorite of my families for many years. It’s so easy and so reasonable to make. This will change your mind if you grew up eating lentils prepared very simply. Adding this combination of flavors, takes this lentil soup to be something completely different and so tasty! You can leave out the sausage and use vegetable broth if you want to make it vegetarian, or leave out the cheese if you want to make it dairy free. You feel healthy eating it, and it can be your entire meal as it is filling, but serving alongside some of my Gluten Free Cheesy and Herb Sourdough Bread Sticks or a crusty French bread or sourdough bread definitely notches it up a step…Or serve a nice “insalata mista” salad alongside, as they say in Italy, mixed green salad, with simple greens and shredded carrots or sliced fennel, with a lemon or balsamic vinaigrette.
Italian Red Lentil Soup with Sausage (Gluten Free)
Makes 6 – 7 servings
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour, 30 minutes
2 ½ tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon salt
1 medium onion, minced
2 large stalks celery, chopped
¼ bulb of fennel, chopped, optional
1 carrot, chopped fine
3 – 4 large cloves large garlic, minced or crushed
2 ½ tablespoons tomato paste
½ cup white wine, optional
1 ½ cups red lentils or red mixed lentils, rinsed several times
3 cups homemade or store bought chicken broth or vegetable broth, gluten free
4 cups water
¼ – ½ teaspoon of crushed red pepper, gluten free
2 small handfuls spinach or kale, chopped
8 – 9 ounces (or 3 links) of mild Italian sausage, crumbled
2 tablespoons fresh Italian flat leaf parsley, chopped or 1 teaspoon dried
8 – 10 basil leaves, torn or chopped
1 teaspoon dried basil
1 ½ – 2 zucchini, sliced lengthwise, then into ¼” thick half rounds
3/8 cup brown rice
A small chunk (1/2 inch x 3/4 inch) of parmesan, (if you don’t need it dairy free)
In a large stockpot or Dutch oven heat the olive oil, over medium high heat, and sauté onion, carrot, and celery with salt for three to four minutes. The vegetables of this “soffrito” should be soft. Add the garlic and stir quickly for 20 seconds.
Remove to a bowl or plate to add back in later. Brown the crumbled sausage in the stockpot. After it has browned, turn down the heat to medium low and add the white wine and simmer and “deglaze” the pan, stirring the bits of browned meat off the bottom.
Add the broth, the water, tomato paste, lentils, the crushed red pepper, half of the amounts of parsley and basil, the onion mixture, and the spinach and kale. Simmer over medium low heat for 30 minutes.
Add the brown rice and stir, and continue cooking for 30 minutes.
Stir in the zucchini slices and cook for 20-25 minutes more, until zucchini and brown rice is cooked.
Ladle into bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil, sprinkle with cheese and fresh basil strips, and be sure to pass bowls of extra parmesan cheese, crushed red pepper flakes, and Gluten Free Cheesy and Herb Sourdough Bread Sticks or crusty French bread.