Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free Lentil soup is a special meal from my childhood which beckons warm memories. Legumes have a complex carbohydrate base which provide bulk and can act as a thickening agent. This soup does not require a roux, as the lentils thicken and create a thick and hearty meal. My paternal grandmother, Marie Conforti, made this often. She learned from my great grandmother (Adelina Demari Conforti), and taught me when I was quite young. I do not know if the addition of sausage (with fennel) is something which came to the New Country or was adopted here. Because this dish uses only two sausages for an entire pot of soup, I suspect the recipe adapted this way in the Old Country – utilizing a little of an ingredient and making it stretch for an entire meal is a typical trait of Southern Italian cooking. I often make lentils as a stew, add 1-2 cups more liquid for a brothy soup. These lentils are deliciously satisfying on a cold winter day.
Vegetarians: This is only one version of a southern Italian lentil soup. Many versions contain no meat and use water. To make this as a vegetarian dish, I recommend omitting the sausage, add ½ tsp fennel to the onion and garlic which should be sautéed in olive oil. Substitute water instead of chicken broth. The mock chicken broth works well (but one needs to search for a gluten free mock chicken broth), as does a combination of water and vegetable broth.
1/3 cup chopped Onion
3 finely chopped Garlic Cloves
1 cup chopped Carrots
1 cup chopped Celery
1 Bay Leaf
2 Hot or Sweet Gluten Free Sausage links with fennel
1 ½ cup Gluten Free Green or French Lentils, washed and picked over
4 cups Gluten Free Chicken Broth or Water (I prefer chicken broth)
½ teaspoon Parsley (dried or a tablespoon fresh)
Salt & Pepper
(optional) 2 inch piece rind of a hard Italian Grating cheese*
(optional) Crushed Hot Red Pepper to taste
(optional) a few sprigs of Celery leaves finely chopped
Clean and chop all of the vegetables: Place lentils in a colander under running water, pick them over to remove any debris and place aside. Chop the onions, garlic, carrots and celery, set each separately aside.
Prepare the Sausage: Use a large heavy bottomed pot. Place on low flame. When pot is warm, remove the sausage casings and crumble the interior into the pot, increase heat to medium high. Cook crumbles for about 8 minutes. Remove sausage and set aside in a small bowl until the vegetables have sautéed. If there is significant fat remaining from the sausage, you can sauté the vegetables in the pork fat or remove the fat and use a tablespoon of olive oil for the vegetables.
Add the onion and sauté for 2 or 3 minutes, then add the garlic and (optional) crushed red pepper, bay leaf and sauté for another minute. Once the onions turn translucent add the carrot and celery, cover and lower flame to medium low. Cook for 5 minutes.
Add the lentils to the pot; stir and sauté all of the ingredients for 30 seconds. Then return the sausage to the pot. Add ½ cup of liquid and simmer for a minute, use the back of a spoon to scrape up bits of meat from the pan.
Add remainder of liquid (and optional loosely chopped celery leaves). Bring to a rolling simmer, add (optional) grated cheese rind and lower the heat to low. Cover with lid slightly ajar on one edge. Stir every 20 minutes. Cook for 45 minutes to an hour.
To Serve: Serve independently or Cook small gluten free pasta (like ditalini or shells) and place a few in the center of a soup bowl. Ladle lentils over pasta and stir together. Serve with fresh grated cheese and milled black pepper.
*Using the Rind of Hard Italian Cheese in Soups & Stews: this is an old world trick to add depth of flavor to soups and stews. Use a pairing knife to remove all colored parts of labels and slice rind into two inch pieces. Wrap each in wax paper and freeze together in an airtight plastic bag.
“Lentil Soup”by Liz Conforti, Forget What You Know About Wheat(c) 2015
Serve with Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free:
Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free: Journey into a Culinary Cultural Evolution &
Learn How to Transform Southern Italian Recipes to Gluten Free
Kitchen Wisdom Gluten Free: Journey into a Culinary Cultural Evolution & Learn How to Transform Southern Italian Recipes to Gluten Free…Experience a Kitchen so Delicious, Those Who Can Eat Gluten Choose Not To! Available formats: eBook, & Paperback; On amazon.com, and at Select Vermont Retailers.
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