Lentil, Bean & Sausage Soup With Herb Pesto
For New Years, it is traditional in Italy to eat lentils to inspire good luck and prosperity for the coming year because they resemble coins. We have carried on this tradition ourselves ever since we first lived in Italy back in the 1980′s and I have grown to really enjoy lentils. Each January I make the decision to try and eat just a little healthier over the upcoming year, and though we do eat a very healthy diet anyways, you can always find ways to improve your diet. Three easy ways I plan on improving our daily menus for 2013 are to add more greens, reduce the amount of meat protein, and to eat dried beans, or legumes at least three times a week.
I am a fan of big hearty soups full of healthy veggies and beans, and this newest soup is certainly a complete meal in a bowl. I used my favorite lentils from Castelluccio in Umbria, plus a can of chickpeas and a can of black beans. I prefer the small beige, or green lentils, not the larger orange ones as the smaller lentils hold their shape and do not get mushy like the larger orange ones can. I also added some Italian sausage, but chose turkey sausage to keep the soup as healthy as possible, and included the usual onions, carrots, and celery as well as a variety of seasonings.
I have gotten into the habit of topping these types of soups with a dollop of herb pesto that I make from fresh herbs, and this little addition really brings the soup to life and adds a vibrancy of flavor that is delicious. I’ve also found that most soups benefit from a little squeeze of lemon juice just before serving which seems to enhance the flavor of all the ingredients.
When making soups like this one, since it serves a group, I usually serve the soup the day I make it, and then portion out servings from the rest and freeze them for later meals. This soup is truly a meal in a bowl, so it is great on a day you know you will be busy to pull out a container from the freezer in the morning to enjoy later in the day. Add a loaf of crusty bread, a big mixed salad and you have a complete meal the whole family will enjoy.
Deborah Mele 2013
- Lentils and beans are high in fiber and a good source of low fat protein.
- Using Italian turkey sausage reduces calories from fat while still adding flavor.
Lentil, Bean & Sausage Soup WIth Herb Pesto
Yield: Serves 8 - 10
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cook Time: 45 mins
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, Peeled & Diced
2 Carrots, Trimmed & Diced
2 Celery Stalks, Diced
4 Links Italian Turkey Sausage, Meat Removed From Casings
3 Garlic Cloves, Peeled & Diced
1 (1 Pound) Bag Green or Beige Lentils
2 Cups Chicken Broth
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Thyme
1 Tablespoon Chopped Fresh Oregano
1/3 Cup Chopped Fresh Parsley
Salt & Pepper
1 Can Black Beans
1 Can Chickpeas
1 Cup Fresh Basil
1/3 Cup Fresh Parsley
1/4 Cup Fresh Mint
2 Cloves Garlic, Peeled
Salt & Pepper
1 Tablespoon Lemon Juice
Extra Virgin Olive Oil
In a large stockpot, heat the oil, and add the onions, celery, carrots and sausage meat.
Cook over medium heat, using two forks to break up the meat, until the vegetables and meat are lightly browned.
Add the garlic and cook a minute or two until fragrant.
Add the lentils and chicken broth and enough water to cover everything by two inches and bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat to medium low, and cook until the lentils are almost tender to the bite, about 15 minutes.
Add the remaining seasonings and beans (not the lemon), and cook another 15 minutes over low heat.
While the soup is cooking prepare the herb pesto by placing all the pesto ingredients except the oil in a food processor and pulsing until chopped.
Continue to puree, and slowly drizzle in the olive oil until you have a thick pesto.
Taste, and adjust salt and pepper if needed.
Just before serving, squeeze the lemon juice into the soup and serve in individual bowls.
Add a spoonful of the herb pesto to each bowl and serve immediately.