January 26, 2010
I haven’t made lentil soup in a long, long time. See, many years back, upon our return from a trip through northern Greece and Turkey, I made a killer red lentil soup that I’d learned to make in a cooking class in Istanbul. It tasted divine. And then wreaked havoc, if you know what I mean. To this day, the ChowPapa and I can’t stop laughing about the red lentil soup aftermath. It was so hard on our systems that we decided we could never do red lentils again. Until…
I recently spotted a recipe on the always inspiring and gorgeous La Tartine Gourmande for white lentil soup with chorizo and a poached egg. Using a fried or poached egg to make soup or salad heartier is a favorite trick of mine, so I was instantly smitten. And white lentils—I’d never cooked them before! I was inspired. But, when I got to my local speciality food shop, all they had were red lentils. The. Dreaded. Red. Lentils. Oh well, we’d have to get over it. I grabbed a bag and never looked back.
This soup, hearty with carrots and squash and rich with egg yolk, is luscious. Even more delicious than my divine Turkish soup and without any of the, shall we say, repercussions. Lentils, a great source of iron, protein and fiber (for everyone, but especially beginner eaters), pair great with sausage, so get creative. Brown lentils with sweet (or hot!) Italian sausage. French green lentils with merguez. Or maybe try Bea’s recipe with smoky andouille or garlicky linguica instead of chorizo. All I had on hand was a homemade pork breakfast sausage seasoned with nothing more than salt, pepper and lots of sage. How perfect, I thought, for a soup topped with a poached egg!
And it was. Just perfect: healthy, satisfying, silky and rich, with tons of flavor. My ChowBaby requested leftovers the next night. The ChowPapa, too. Red lentils are back. In style.
PS: I served this with crusty dinner rolls and a mini-cheese board. A perfect winter dinner. This is also a great make-ahead meal. The soup will last up to 3 days in the fridge or can be frozen. Poached eggs can be made up to 24 hours ahead of time. Just slip them into an ice bath after you take them out of the hot water, then store in the fridge in an airtight container. Reheat by putting the eggs in simmering hot water for a minute before serving.
Red Lentil Soup with Sausage + a Poached Egg
(can be served to kids 8+ mos)
1/4 c organic olive oil
1 c chopped organic shallots
3/4 c chopped organic celery
chopped organic thyme, 4 sprigs worth
3 cloves organic garlic, chopped
1 lb organic sausage meat, casing removed
1 1/2 c chopped organic squash, 1/4″ dice
1 c chopped organic carrots, 1/4″ dice (about 3 carrots)
2 c organic red lentils
2 organic bay leaves
4 c organic chicken or vegetable broth
4 c water
salt & pepper
1 tbsp vinegar (any kind)
as many organic eggs as portions you’ll be serving
1. Heat olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat. Saute shallots, celery, and thyme until translucent—do not brown. Add garlic and cook another minute or so, until fragrant. Add sausage meat and brown.
2. Add squash, carrots, lentils, bay leaves, broth and water. Bring to a heavy simmer, then cover and lower heat to medium low. Cook for about 20-30 minutes, until soup thickens and vegetables soften. Season with salt and pepper.
3. In the meantime, bring a large pot of water and the vinegar to a boil. Break one egg into a small bowl. Reduce heat so that the water is just simmering. Lower the bowl to the very top of the water and slide the egg in. You can add as many eggs as will fit (making sure to give them plenty of room to float), one at a time. Once all eggs are in the hot water, cover, turn off heat and let stand a 2-3 minutes, before taking them out.
4. Ladle soup into bowl. Top each serving with one poached egg. Garnish with a sprinkle of paprika and serve!