October 18, 2010

Lentil, Barley and Sausage Soup

Lentil and Barley Soup with Sausage
It's turning out to be quite a nice fall here in Portland, Oregon. (Hopefully I'm not speaking too soon.) For at least the last week, we've had gorgeous, crisp cool sunny days. Perfect fall weather if you ask me. The forecast for this week indicates we'll get more of the same. I certainly hope we do. It's my favorite time of year.

While I still can't believe it is already mid-October, I am definitely beginning to get excited about all the wonderful things that fall entails. Leaves are changing, temperatures are dropping, pumpkins are out on porches. One of the things I'm looking forward to is making soup. There is something so essential and satisfying about a good soup! And the truly fantastic thing about soups is they are so easy to make. They are so malleable. Be creative, get crazy---design a soup as you go. It is only recently that I realized that one really doesn't need a recipe for a soup, just a basic idea and whatever contents of your fridge and pantry that you are craving.

Soup after a long day at work.
That being said, I'm posting this soup recipe. I came up with this recipe by combining and tweaking a couple of recipes I've clipped from food magazines. I will always, always associate lentil soup with my mother. Lucky for me, she made fantastic lentil (and many, many other kinds of) soup. But, this version is a bit different than hers. It's a lentil soup with barley, and like any good lentil soup it is very hearty. It begs for a good chunk of crusty bread and a cold night. A little wine certainly doesn't hurt.

One of the best thing about soups, too, is that they just get better with time. Make a large batch and savor the left-overs for lunch the next day or freeze some to enjoy later.

Let the soup season commence!

Lentil and Barley Soup with Sausage
~Print Recipe~
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, separated (or more to taste)
  • 2 sausage links, cut into small pieces
  • 1 leek, chopped
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons garlic, minced
  • 1 cup carrots (or more), chopped
  • 1 cup celery (or more), chopped
  • 2 red potatoes, chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon dill
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • OR since I discovered I was out of Italian seasoning, I substituted the following:
  • 1/2 teaspoon each of oregano, thyme, basil, rosemary (or more to taste)
  • 2 to 3 courts low-sodium chicken stock (or water)
  • 1/2 cup uncooked pearl barley
  • 2 cups uncooked lentils
  • 2 tablespoons dry red wine (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (optional)
  • Fresh cracked pepper and grated cheese to garnish
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium high in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. Add the sausage and cook until browned. Drain the sausage and remove from pot, set aside.  Add remaining oil and chopped leek. Stir to coat. 
  2. As the leek is sauteing, chop and stir in the onion. Chopping and adding as you go, add all the ingredients through the potatoes, continuing to stir frequently. Add the spices. Cook for a few minutes until the vegetables are softened and the onion is translucent.
  3. Add the barley and stir to incorporate. Add the chicken stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
  4. Stir in lentils. Cover and cook for 30 minutes, or until lentils are soft and vegetables are cooked through.
  5. Add the cooked sausage (and optional ingredients, if using) and simmer for another 10 minutes, until the sausage is warmed and flavors have mingled. Adjust spices as necessary.
  6. Top individual servings of soup with more fresh cracked pepper and grated cheese of your choice. Serve with crusty bread.

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