The Commonwealth of Virginia is schizophrenic and has no clue how to have a proper winter. In the past 4 days we have had 1) the snow pictured above and 10-15 degree weather, 2) hail at 40 degree weather, 3) rain and thunderstorms at 67-70 degrees, 4) clear sky at 55 degrees, and today 5) is back to 32 degrees with another inch of snow which fell last night. I'm not one to complain about weather in general; I love pretty much every season (except the pollen that comes with Spring) so I'm not offended per se... just mighty confused.
Last night was a night where it decided to be warm in the day, and then drop below freezing at night, so the house (after not needing the heat on all day) was a bit chilly. We fought off the cold with this incredibly hearty and easy soup from smittenkitchen.com found here and some homemade sourdough bread.
I only made a few adjustments from her original recipe: I switched up the kind of onions I used, removed the celery, and used spicy instead of sweet sausage. I have to say that I was a bit leery of the whole "drizzle more oil on the soup" at the end, but it really was a fantastic added touch that added flavor and depth, not grease. Olive oil is so good for you anyway and garlic is simply sublime and can never go wrong, that it's really a win-win situation.
1/2 cup olive oil, divided4 large links of spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
3/4 cup mini onion pearls
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
1 tsp salt1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish
Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large soup pan on medium heat. When oil is hot, add the sausage and break up into pieces till it starts to brown. Add the onions, carrots, 2 garlic cloves, and salt. Cook until the veggies soften a bit, about 5 minutes.
Add the lentils, bay leaves, crushed tomatoes, water (about 2 empty 28-ounce cans), and more salt and pepper to taste. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30-40 minutes.
When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook another 5 minutes, until the leaves are tender.
When you are waiting for the chard to cook down, add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 sliced garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until fragrant and the garlic sizzles and pops and softens.
Remove bay leaves and serve in soup bowls with a bit of garlic oil drizzled over the top and a sprinkling of fresh Romano cheese. Eat with lots of yummy carbs if you so desire, and enjoy!