Everyday is a good day for soup because it’s one bowl, packed with good things that fill you up. Soup is fairly easy to prepare because it’s usually a combination of vegetables, broth, and beans – classic pantry ingredients. I find that replacing lentils for beans, is a nice way to change up a good soup recipe because lentils are loaded with protein and are quick cooking.
Lentils are a legume and come in a different colors, shapes and varietals. Dal, or Indian lentils, tend to take longer on the stove and cook down into more of a porridge consistency. In this recipe, I prefer to use small brown or green lentils, which cook up in a short amount of time without losing their density. The other delightful flavors in this soup, come from the fresh fennel, onions and chicken sausage, which you can leave in or out, depending upon your choosing.
The flavors of this soup are earthy and warm, with a nice Italian flair. You can always double the recipe, and freeze a little for later, which I highly recommend. One bowl is a meal in itself and hits the spot on a colder evening with a slice of rustic bread, good butter, and a glass of red wine.
1 1/3 cups small brown or green lentils
1 white onion
1 fennel bulb
1 cup diced butternut squash
3 cooked spicy chicken sausages, optional if going meatless
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning
1 bay leaf
1 quart chicken or vegetable broth
1. In a mesh strainer, rinse lentils and drain. Set aside.
2. Dice onions, butternut squash and slice fennel and sausages. Reserve some fennel fronds for topping.
3. In a small stockpot, add 3 tablespoons olive oil and place over medium heat. Add onions and fennel and sauté for 3 minutes.
4. Add squash, sausage, minced garlic, Italian seasoning, bay leaf, 2 teaspoons salt and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper. Add rinsed lentils.
5. Add chicken broth and stir to combine. Lower heat to low and place lid a jar on top of the pot. Cook soup for 25-30 minutes, just until squash and lentils are fork tender, but not mushy. Ladle soup into bowls and add a small piece of fennel frond on top. Enjoy!