Lentils are the centerpiece of this recipe. Lentils are an Old World food staple from prehistoric times. Many nutritionists consider lentils one of the top foods to add to your diet. Lentils are an excellent source of protein, folate, minerals and fiber. Lentils are the seeds of a legume. The ungerminated seeds are an incomplete protein lacking two of the essential amino acids, but sprouted lentils contain adequate amounts of all amino acids. A combination of lentils and rice is the primary protein source in some parts of the world. Lentils contain some compounds which limit the absorption of their own mineral content. This mineral loss can be minimized by soaking the lentils in warm water overnight.
Lentils come in many varieties; the green lentils called for in this recipe contain a much higher fiber content than the red or pink lentils. The French variety of green lentils in this recipe called lentilles de Puy have a dark green color with darker blue-green
This recipe comes from Patricia Wells’ book, Bistro Cooking. 1989, page 34. Our version substituted tan Indian lentils for the more authentic lentilles de Puy, but we think the result was still excellent. We also used chicken stock for half of the liquid called for, hoping to achieve a richer flavor. Finally, use bland sausages, not any variety with too much spice, or the sausage spice will overpower the delicate flavor of the soup. Bon appetit!
4 oz. smoked bacon, coarsely chopped
1 leek, well rinsed and finely minced
1 carrot, finely minced
1 onion, finely minced
1 celery rib, finely minced
1 tsp ground cumin
4 whole cloves
1 lb. imported green lentils
2 bay leaves
salt and freshly ground pepper
1 Tbsp unsalted butter
4 small smoked pork sausages (about 1 lb.)
In a large stockpot over medium-high heat, sauté the bacon until lightly browned. Add the minced vegetables, cumin, and cloves, and sauté until all are nicely browned.
Add the lentils, bay leaves, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in 2½ quarts of water, and simmer, covered, until the lentils are cooked through, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook the sausages: Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the sausages and brown on all sides, being careful not to pierce them. Add water to cover and heat just to a simmer. Immediately reduce the heat and cover, cooking until the sausages are thoroughly cooked through, about 30 minutes.
To serve, drain the sausages and slice into small rounds. Divide them evenly among 4 warmed soup bowls. Spoon the hot soup over all.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.