For the sausage:
- 1 pound ground pork
- Salt and pepper
- 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, minced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed, ground fennel or fennel pollen
- 1 teaspoon granulated onion (about 1/3 palmful)
- A few grates fresh nutmeg or a pinch of ground nutmeg
For the lentils:
- 1 cup dried lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 small onion, halved
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
For the soup base:
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus more for cooking
- 1 potato, peeled
- 2 carrots, peeled
- 1 onion
- 2-3 cloves garlic
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 bunch flat leaf parsley, stems and leaves separated, leaves finely chopped and reserved for garnish
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves stripped
- Salt and pepper
- 4 cups veal stock or beef stock
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese
In a large bowl, combine the sausage ingredients and let stand for 15 minutes.
In a medium size saucepan, place the lentils with the bay leaves, onion and salt. Cover with 2 inches of water; bring to a boil and cook until tender but with some bite, 20-22 minutes. Drain and discard the bay leaves and onion.
Meanwhile, in a medium size soup pot, heat 3 tablespoons of the EVOO, a few turns of the pan, over medium heat. Using a food processor, pulse the vegetables, parsley stems and rosemary leaves until chopped; transfer to a pot. Season, cover and let ingredients sweat in the EVOO, 6-8 minutes. Add the stock and 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes.
While the potatoes are cooking, heat a little EVOO in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Cook the sausage until brown and crumbly, about 5-7 minutes. Drain the fat, then stir the sausage into the soup along with the cooked lentils.
Serve the soup in shallow bowls and top with the reserved parsley leaves and the Pecorino Romano cheese.