This warm and hearty soup (stew) cuts right to the bone (in the best way!) on a cold winter’s night — a one-pot complete meal with loads of legumes and vegetables packed in! You could easily make it vegetarian by skipping the sausage and chicken broth. And too, you could veganize it by skipping the grated cheese at the end.
3-6 tablespoons of olive oil
2-4 large links (about 1 pound) of sweet or spicy Italian sausage
1 large brown onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced into half-moons or diced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4-6 cloves garlic, finely minced (reserve about half to add toward the end of the cook)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon of Italian seasoning
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 jar of our Due Cellucci sauce. We like Tomato Basil or Arrabbiata for this recipe
6 cups of water or low-sodium chicken broth
1 entire bunch of red or rainbow chard, ribboned or chopped (keep the ribs!)
1/4 cup or more of chopped parsley for garnish
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese to finish
Drizzle of fresh olive oil to finish (optional)
1. Heat some of the olive oil, enough to coat the bottom of a large pot, on medium-high heat. When hot, add the sausage links and brown them all around. Don’t worry about cooking them fully. Once browned, reserve them to the side to cool. Then slice the links into 1/2 coins or chop all into a chunky dice/crumble, depending on how you prefer them in the stew.
2. Add a little more olive oil to the pot, if needed, then the onion, celery, carrots, and about half the minced garlic. Sauté for a couple of minutes, stirring throughout, just to lightly soften.
3. Add the rinsed and drained lentils, the bay leaves, and water or broth. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are about half way done, sort of al-dente, then you can add the jar of Due Cellucci sauce, some salt and pepper and Italian seasoning.
4. When the lentils are cooked, add in the rest of the minced garlic, the chopped chard and cook until the leaves and ribs are just tender, about 3-5 minutes more. Discard the bay leaves. Taste for salt and pepper, adjust as desired.
5. To finish, divide among bowls, drizzle with a little olive oil and top with fresh Romano or Parm and chopped parsley. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.