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Lentil Soup with Sausage and Ham

Serves 6 to 8

This hearty lentil soup recipe came from my mother and it is one of my favorites. It takes a little while to cook, but preparation is very easy and, as with many soups, it is just as good if made a day or two ahead and refrigerated until needed. Make it on a weekend and serve on a busy weeknight with some good, crusty bread. If you prefer to use just one of the meats, use all sausage and omit the ham.


Heat olive oil in 6-8 quart soup pot over medium heat. Add sausage and cook until almost all fat is rendered. Transfer sausage to platter. Drain off all but 2 tablespoons grease from saucepan. Add ham, onion, green pepper and carrot to saucepan. Cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic, bay leaf, thyme and cumin. Cover and cook another 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, thinly slice sausage. Add to saucepan with chicken stock, tomatoes and lentils. Reduce heat to low, cover partially and simmer gently until lentils begin to dissolve, about 2 hours. Skim any fat from surface and discard. Taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Add shredded spinach and simmer until hot. Serve immediately.

Notes: The soup can be prepared up to three days in advance and refrigerated, or frozen for up to six months. The recipe can be halved or doubled.