This versatile vitamin-filled hearty lentil stoup is a New Year’s favorite of Rachael’s family. It freezes well, so prepare it ahead of time as a make-ahead meal and enjoy it throughout the cold winter months.
For the sausage (make several hours to 2 days ahead):
- 1 1/2 pounds ground pork, dark meat chicken, dark and white meat turkey or lamb
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes (2/3 palmful)
- 2 teaspoons sweet paprika (2/3 palmful)
- 2 teaspoons granulated onion (2/3 palmful)
- 2 teaspoons ground sage (for pork or lamb) or poultry seasoning (for ground chicken or turkey), (half a palmful)
- 1 teaspoon fennel seed (1/3 palmful)
- Salt and pepper
For the soup:
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil ( EVOO ), plus some for drizzling
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 2 carrots, finely chopped
- 1-2 small ribs celery, finely chopped
- 1 starchy potato, peeled and finely chopped
- 1 large bay leaf
- Herb bundle: a few stems each of rosemary, thyme and parsley, tied together
- Salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1/2 cup dry white wine or red wine
- 4 cups chicken stock (32 ounces)
- 2 cups water
- 1 1/4 cups brown lentils
- 1 small bunch black, Tuscan or dinosaur kale/lacinato, stemmed and finely chopped or shredded
- Freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly grated Pecorino cheese (salty, tangy) or Parmigiano Reggiano cheese (nutty), for serving
- Warm crusty bread, for mopping
Combine the sausage ingredients and chill for several hours or up to two days ahead.
In large soup pot , heat the EVOO , two turns of the pan . Add the sausage meat and brown and crumble. Add the onion, carrots, celery, potato, bay leaf and herbs and season with salt and pepper. Partially cover the pot and cook for 7-8 minutes to soften the vegetables, stirring occasionally. Stir in the tomato paste until fragrant, then add the wine; let reduce a minute, then add the stock and water. Bring to boil, add the lentils and cook to tender, 25-30 minutes. Wilt in the kale, add a little nutmeg and adjust the seasoning, to taste.
Serve in shallow bowls  topped with a drizzle of EVOO and some cheese. Pass the bread at the table for mopping.