Soup Season

The other Sunday morning here at Sithean was cold and rainy outside, but cozy in the kitchen.  I put a pot of eggs to hard-boil on the stove, and sat with a cup of coffee in my hand on the couch next to the Christmas tree, contemplating the almost 2 years here in this beautiful place.

We have already had snow and bitter cold here, and it’s looking like that’s the weather forecast for much of the winter, so I have been stacking firewood on the porch, and Eli has been getting the windows ready for the cold and wind.

This is what I call Soup Season- the time of year where a big pot of soup or stew on the stove or in the crockpot is ubiquitous.  Soup is easy, can mostly be made ahead of time, and is comforting. Add some bread or popovers, and it is unparalleled comfort food.

The ‘made ahead of time’ point is critical – soup is the ultimate working parent dinner toolkit item.  I work a lot, and I travel a lot.  Having dinner on the table for smallish people at 5 or 5:30 is required, but my schedule often doesn’t cooperate.  So there’s soup.  I can prep it early in the morning or even a day ahead if needed.  I can freeze leftovers, and thaw them in time for hungry people.  Soup is often the way I get vegetables into the kids as well.

Last week I made my favorite of the simple soups.  Many soups, such as homemade clam chowder, take time to prep and a recipe with a lot of ingredients.  But Simple Lentil Sausage Soup requires no such things – just a few ingredients that you can keep on hand.  And for those of us who spend a lot of time cooking and baking at this time of year, it’s a nice reprieve from multi-step recipes.  It’s also really cheap, which makes it that much more appealing.  And it tastes good enough to serve to company.

Lentil Sausage Soup_Ready

Lentil Sausage Soup:

2 Quarts homemade or purchased chicken stock

3 onions, chopped small

3 cloves garlic

1 1/2 cups lentils (any will do, I had red lentils on hand this time)

1 lb sausage of your preference, sliced

1/2 tsp cumin

Salt and pepper to taste

Saute the onions and garlic until soft.  Add the sausage pieces and cook until no longer pink.  Add the stock, cumin and lentils and cook until the lentils are soft, about 30 minutes.  Add the salt after the lentils have cooked through to ensure that the soup cooks at the right speed.  And don’t skip the cumin, it adds a depth of flavor you won’t get without it.

Serve immediately, with bread and possibly topped with chives or scallions, or cheese. Cheese goes with everything, after all.