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Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Swiss Chard

Posted Feb 18 2010 12:18pm

I'm giddy with Olympic fever, and following the visions of snow-capped mountains night after night (oh, Canada...) I've had mad cravings for soup, hot chocolate, baked bread, and stacks of pancakes drenched in (Canadian) maple syrup.

This far, I've only accomplished the soup from my list, but it's a soup worth sharing: lentil soup with Italian sausage & Swiss chard. The preparation takes little patience; a bit of chopping, stirring, and simmering, and soup's on. The next day, leftovers can be re-warmed (like most every soup, this one is even better on day two) for a perfect lunch. I've been savoring a bowl computer-side in between editing. But given that the bowl is now scraped clean, it's time to get back to work--must finish before men's fee skate tonight!

Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Swiss Chard

1-2/3 cups lentils, rinsed well
6 cups water
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 Turkish or 1 California bay leaf
4 garlic cloves, finely chopped, divided
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 pound sweet Italian sausage links, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 medium carrots, finely chopped
2 celery ribs, finely chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
1/2 pound Swiss chard or spinach, chopped (about 4 cups packed)
1 to 2 tablespoons red-wine vinegar

Simmer lentils, water, broth, bay leaf, and half of garlic in a 4-quart pot, uncovered, 12 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a wide heavy 5- to 6-quart pot over medium-high heat until it shimmers. Brown sausage, about 7 minutes. Transfer sausage with a slotted spoon to a bowl.

Reduce heat to medium and cook onion, carrots, celery, remaining garlic, 1 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add sausage and lentils with cooking liquid and simmer, uncovered, until lentils are tender, 3 to 5 minutes.

Stir in Swiss chard and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Stir in vinegar to taste and season with salt and pepper. Discard bay leaf and serve.
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