One of the most exciting things about fall and winter for me is SOUP. I love it, and you really can't eat it in the summer. Unless you like sweating while eating. So come fall weather, I set aside some of my weekend to make a batch of soup, any soup really. And I stick most of it in the freezer so on some cold night where Stud and I are way too lazy to cook or leave the house, we have some delicious soup in the freezer. I think I might actually take it too far....I refuse to let Stud eat more than the allotted amount for dinner. The rest is for the freezer! It must go in the freezer! He thinks I'm crazy but I love having a well stocked freezer. And it's why a stand alone freezer was one of the first things I bought when we moved in.
So Freezer Stock 2010 began last weekend with a big batch of lentil soup made from Ina Garten's recipe found in her Barefoot in Paris cookbook! And this is probably one of my favorite soups out there and is really very simple to make for the flavors that result. Shocker - when I was younger, I didn't think I liked soup. I didn't think I liked anything. Reality is, I love soup and the heartier, the better. So lentil soup with it's sausages and beans warms your belly over the cold winter and the recipe says you should serve it with red wine, so there you go. No wonder it's my favorite.
1 lb Italian sausage (I use 1/2 mild and 1/2 hot)
1 lb french green lentils
1/4 c. olive oil
4 c. diced yellow onions (about 3 large onions)
4 c. chopped leeks, white and light green parts (about 2 leeks)
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 T. kosher salt
1 1/2 t. ground black pepper
1 T. minced fresh thyme leaves
1 t. ground cumin
3 c. diced celery (about 8 stalks)
3 c. diced carrots (about 4-6 carrots)
3 quarts chicken stock
1/4 c. tomato paste
Parmesan rind, if you have one (they are free at Lotsa Pasta!)
Put the lentils in a medium sized bowl and cover with boiling water. Let sit for 15 minutes and drain. In a large stockpot (I used my 9 1/2 quart, it makes a lot!), heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme, and cumin for about 20 minutes. The veggies need to be translucent. Add the celery and carrots and cook for another 10 minutes. Then add the chicken stock, tomato paste, lentils, and Parmesan rind. I like to add the sausage at this point as well because I like everything to cook together and to get the sausage flavor throughout the soup. I cook them in the oven first, and then slice them into rounds and add to the soup. Once you've added everything, cover and bring to a boil. Once the soup boils, lower the heat to a simmer and let it cook uncovered for an hour. The soup will reduce and darken quite a bit. After an hour, fish out the Parmesan rind and serve with a splash of red wine and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. The splash of red wine is essential. It adds so much flavor, and then have a glass as well! I told you I loved this recipe.
This soup is so simple. Once all the chopping is finished, it just sits there for an hour with the occasional stir and then you're finished and you have a delicious dinner. And if you have a sous chef that loves to chop and stir, it makes it even easier. And now, I have three quarts of lentil soup in my freezer and some for dinner as well. Freezer Stock 2010 is off to a good start!