Because it's SUPPOSED to be getting cold I decided to make a pot of mom's Lentil Soup. Classic eight-year-old Dan learning to help cook by chopping veg family recipe here.
Freezes well, sops well on crusty bread (more about that, and maybe even a blog devoted to the joy of crusty bread, later).
First off, the business. Your stock pot should be at least 8 quarts or it will be the fullest little soup pot ever. This version will feed 8 comfortably. Conveniently, it also freezes well for a four meals now, four later kinda life.
What To Get
6 links italian sausage (mix of hot and sweet or whatever you have. the hot sausage REALLY makes the soup though), browned and sliced (doesn't have to get all the way cooked in the browning)
4-5 slices of bacon, cooked, chopped, and drippings reserved
4-5 celery stalks, diced medium
2-3 medium onions, chopped
4-5 medium carrots, chopped
4-5 medium yukon gold potatoes, peeled and chopped (don't peel when you do the other veg, wait until the soup's on and you're ready to add them, then peel and chop)
1 cup lentils (brown is classic for the recipe, green/red/yellow are cool too)
1/2 can tomato paste (or all of one, they're a pain to keep. if you're really cool and have it in a tube about 2 T)
2 bay leaves
1 T thyme (if you use fresh thyme sprigs, throw 4 in)
one bunch flat leaf italian parsley, chopped
lots o' water (bout 8-10 cups)
salt and pepper to sweat the veg and then to taste after the taters go in and cook for about 20)
What To Do With It
Brown the sausage. Put it on some paper towels to drain.
Cook the bacon in your soup pot. LEAVE the drippings (you can, if you must, drain some out to lighten this up).
Remove the bacon and add the celery, onion, and carrots. Enjoy the aroma. Salt to sweat and saute for about 5 minutes until the onion and celery are softened and the carrots are just starting to soften.
Add the bay leaves and thyme.
Add the tomato paste and stir it through for a minute.
Add the water, lentils, sausage, and chopped bacon. Stir through. The water should be enough to completely cover everthing that's in the pot, plus the potatoes to come, and be a soup. You want 'broth' here.
Cover, bring to a boil and then drop it to a low simmer for 30 minutes.
Add the taters and continue to simmer covered for 30 minutes.
Add in the chopped parsley and stir through before serving.
Remove the bay leaves (and thyme sprigs if you went that way).
Get your bowls and bread plates ready and serve it up.
If you really want to 'one pot' this meal, brown the sausage in the soup pot, then remove and add the bacon. Nothing wrong with co-mingling pork fat from multiple sources in my kitchen.
The bread is key here. When I was growing up it was usually rye or a pumpernickle/rye marble loaf. Last Sunday it was a HUGE round loaf of sourdough. And let me just say, sourdough bread and this soup are AWESOME.
This soup, like almost all others, is better the next day. This is especially true if you use hot italian sausage (like I told you too) because the spices from the sausage blend in with the soup.
If you want substitutes (and my dad always did when we were living together and he was low-carbing it) try eggplant --cubed and sauteed quickly in a bit of oil before adding to the pot -- and sweet potatoes (suprisingly lower-carb than the yukons). Turkey bacon could also substitute (but you all know I am not morally capable of making that particular sub).
I also recommend counting the number of sausage pieces in your bowl and making sure to apportion them evenly throughout the meal. You will satisfy the cosmic balance I strive to achieve when making and eating this soup.