This weekend my husband and I are both under the weather. Bob has the flu and I had a root canal, neither pleasant or fun. We made the decision Friday to stay home this weekend and forego our visit to Queens. Neither of us want my dad or mom to catch the flu and my mouth is still sore from my date with an endodontist.
I look forward all week to cooking on the weekend and even though eating is hard right now, I need to prep meals for the week. I cooked a few meals for lunch and dinner for the week and made a nice pot of soup for the two of us for today. It was a perfect day for cooking, dreary, rainy and quiet.
When I was a kid my mother always made lentil soup. It was in her weekly rotation of meals. I was not crazy about lentil soup back then. In our house you were not allowed to leave the table until your plate was empty. When my dog Pierre was alive this was no problem, as I merely put it on the floor while mom was busy washing dishes. Pierre was my childhood dog, a black French Poodle that was bought by scraping together our money. My brother George paid the most, as he was the oldest and had a coin collection we could cash in.
Pierre wasn’t always the nicest dog to others, but he was sweet with me and he always ate what I didn’t like. He lived for 16 years, happily eating all the foods I hated. After he passed away it became tougher for this picky eater to finish her food. I remember many a stand-off at the dinner table over finishing my lentil soup. Who knew that all these years later it would become one of my favorites.
A few years ago, as an adult, I had a small bowl of lentil soup when out to lunch at Carrabba’s. This version was so different from the plain lentil soup I grew up on. It was super spicy and had a great kick to it. After that lunch, I experimented to get my lentil soup to taste similar. The recipe I use today is as close as I can get it. It’s hearty, spicy and just what we needed today. I paired it with homemade sweet potato gnocchi, adapted from my cousin’s husband Pete’s recipe shared last week. Usually, I serve this soup with small pasta noodles but wanted something a little heartier today, aka comfort food. It was quite delicious!
Spicy Lentil Soup
- 1 medium Yellow onion chopped
- 1 cup carrots chopped
- 1 stalk celery chopped
- 3 cloves garlic chopped
- 2-3 hot Italian sausage links (removed from casing)
- 1 ham steak cubed
- 2 cups water
- 1 small can Muir organic diced tomatoes
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- 2 cups dry lentils
- 1/2 tbsp basil
- 1 bay leaf
- Salt & pepper to taste
- ¼ tsp. thyme
- Red pepper flakes
- Pour a glass of Chardonnay and turn on Alexa for dancing in the kitchen.
- Remove hot sausage from casing and break apart in soup pan using wooden spatula. Cook until brown then remove from pot.
- In same pot, sauté onion, carrot and celery over medium heat in olive oil 4 minutes until tender.
- Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook for 1 minute.
- Add the chopped ham, can of tomatoes, water, chicken broth, vinegar and lentils.
- Add salt, pepper, basil and thyme and stir.
- Bring to boil.
- Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender. About 60 minutes.
- Serve immediately.
Sweet Potato Gnocchi
- 4 Sweet potatoes halved
- 2 eggs
- 3 cups flour
- salt to taste
- Boil sweet potatoes until soft.
- Rice into large bowl using potato ricer.
- Add eggs, salt and flour
- Mix with hands until it no longer sticks. Add flour as needed.
- Roll pieces into tubular shape the size of your finger and cut into one inch pieces.
- Boil in salted water until they rise to top of water, under 10 minutes.
- Serve on top of bowl of lentil soup.
Stir together and sprinkle with fresh Parmesan. This makes enough to freeze, or eat for lunch during the week. Either way, it’s delicious.
Do you have a recipe to share? Would you like to have your family recipe featured? Contact me to discuss sharing your favorite recipe on a future blog. It’s a great way to honor your loved ones.