Is it cold where you are? It’s pretty cold where I am. Over the past couple of weeks here in Seattle we’ve been graced with beautiful blue skies, sparkling views of the surrounding mountains, and bone chillingly cold temperatures. It’s almost Boston cold and so so beautiful outside. But everyone is complaining. So much so that you’d think that everyone had forgotten that the alternative to this is dark gray skies and drizzly rain. Or maybe that’s what makes Seattle folk special: they’re happier in the rain than the sun.
I’m not quite sure which weather pattern I prefer. When it’s raining and gray in the city I’m happy that it’s snowing in the mountains, but when it’s cold and clear I get to nest in my cozy apartment and make frequent trips between the fireplace and the kitchen, two of my favorite places. For now, I’m huddled up inside and using the weather as an excuse to watch the mountains from my window and make a stockpile of soup. I’m enjoying the view, but if the weather doesn’t warm up soon I’m going to run out of room in my freezer!
James Blake – Retrograde
Sausage, Kale, and Lentil Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
2 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
2 medium carrots, diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed (this recipe is also great with white beans if you prefer them to lentils)
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded flat leaf kale (I love the bags of this from Trader Joes)
Grated parmesan or pecorino romano cheese to finish
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large pot on medium heat. Once the olive oil begins to shimmer, add the sausage and break it up with a wooden spoon. Cook sausage until it begins to brown. Next, add the celery, onion, carrots, two garlic cloves, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until the vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, crushed tomatoes, and water. Season to taste with more salt and black pepper. (Helpful note from Smitten Kitchen: 6 cups is conveniently a little less than 2 empty 28-ounce cans, so you can get any tomato pulp you missed) Simmer soup until lentils are tender, approximately 40 minutes. When the lentils are cooked and add the chard and cook for a minute or two more so the leaves soften.
When your soup is almost finished cooking, heat the other ¼ of olive oil in a small skillet and add remaining garlic cloves. Cook for 5 minutes until garlic softens and hisses. Divide soup among bowls and finish with a drizzle of this delicious garlic infused olive oil and grated pecorino romano cheese. Note: as delicious as this garlicky olive oil is, some believe that this is a great way to grow botulism in your kitchen so make this fresh and use it right away.