French Lentil Soup with Garlic Sausages

Oh boy, it has been a wild year indeed, and while we all changed our lives to some degree we somehow have been able to keep a little normalcy in our daily lives. We have shared good food amongst good friends from time to time and today the following recipe was my latest contribution.

I am enjoying another recipe from “Dinner in French” a fabulous hearty bowl of lentil soup from Melissa Clark’s and while lentil soup doesn’t have a great reputation for glamorous photos, but makes up for it in the flavor department, great on a dreary day with a great green salad of Bert’s greens n’ things.

Of course, I made a few adjustments…

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for serving
6 ounces garlic sausage or kielbasa, cut into bite-size rounds or chunks
2 small leeks (white and light green parts only), halved lengthwise, cleaned, and thinly sliced
½ teaspoon sweet smoked paprika (or use a pinch of hot smoked paprika), plus more to taste
2 carrots, diced
1¾ cups French green lentils (lentilles du Puy) or brown lentils (I used about 2+1/2 cups of French lentils and half brown lentils).
4 cups chicken or vegetable stock, preferably homemade I used 1/2 chicken and 1/2 beef stock, have some extra, monitor the liquid level and the tenderness of the lentils keeping in mind that French lentils stay a little firm while brown lentils break down
2 teaspoons fine sea salt, plus more to taste
5 sprigs of fresh parsley, plus chopped fresh parsley leaves for serving
4 sprigs of fresh thyme
2 sprigs of fresh rosemary (rosemary can overwhelm a dish so I used a small piece of about 3 inches)
1 large bay leaf
2-3 garlic cloves, finely grated or minced
Fresh lemon juice, for serving
4 ounces (1 cup) goat cheese, diced, room temperature Freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat. Stir in the sausage pieces and cook until they are browned and crisp, about 8 minutes, reducing the heat if necessary to prevent burning. Transfer the sausage to a paper towel-lined plate. Reduce the heat to medium and stir the leeks into the pot. Cook until they are golden and soft, stirring occasionally and scraping up the browned bits from the bottom of the pot, about 10 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute to bloom it (you should be able to smell it). Stir in the carrots, lentils, stock, 3 cups of water, and the salt. Using kitchen twine, tie the sprigs of parsley, thyme, and rosemary and the bay leaf into a bundle, and throw that in, too (or, if you don’t have twine, just throw the herbs into the pot and fish them out later).

Partially cover the pot and bring the mixture to a simmer if you like, but not me. Continue to simmer, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. If the pot starts to dry out before the lentils are done, add a bit more water. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Use an immersion blender to partially blend the stew. Don’t overdo it, it should stay fairly chunky. (You can also do this in a regular blender; just purée about a third of the lentil mixture, then return it to the pot.) Stir the sausage back into the stew, add the garlic, and return it to a simmer. Let it simmer for 2 minutes to meld the flavors, stirring frequently. Taste, and add lemon juice to taste and more paprika and salt if needed. Serve the stew topped with the goat cheese, a drizzle of oil, the chopped parsley, and a generous grinding of pepper.

Clark, Melissa. Dinner in French (p. 209). Potter/Ten Speed/Harmony/Rodale. Kindle Edition.