Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lentil and sausage soup

One of the contradictions of my pursuit of minimalist living is that I aim to simplify my consumption of things I actually love to consume. Project 333 is more delicious if I try to make every single one of the 33 items in my wardrobe something I love and could wear EVERY SINGLE DAY, if I had to. Likewise, I love cooking, but most of my adult life has been devoted to discovering ways to maximize my enjoyment of kitchen time and produce great leftovers. The result is a seasonal approach to ingredients combined with what I call "investment" cooking: cooking a large batches of food that can make several encore appearances.

Winter is my time for chili, soups, stews and roasts. Having a large pot of soup simmering on the stove, or a savory roast in the oven on Sunday, warms and perfumes the house with promises of quick meals in the busy week to come. This week's soup is a recipe I clipped about 35 years ago from a now-defunct magazine, Attenzione.

Lentil Soup

2 cups lentils
1 lb. Italian sausage, browned (I prefer sweet, but if you like a really spicy soup, you can use 1/2 sweet, 1/2 hot)
8 cups water
2 cups chicken broth
8 oz. thinly sliced pepperoni
1 cup chopped onion
1 16-oz. can of tomatoes
2 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 tsp sage
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper

Combine all the ingredients above in a 6-quart pot, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 30 minutes, stirring now and then.

2 medium carrots, sliced
2 stalks celery, diced

Simmer 40 minutes more.

We'll be eating this all week, and I don't care. In fact, I'll be sorry when it's all gone.

If you love the idea of minimalist cooking, I recommend Mark Bittman's "The Minimalist" column in the New York Times and the brand-spanking-new blog Simplifried, Unclutterer's baby sister devoted to "ending mealtime stress".

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