Our family looks forward to cold weather in that it gives us the opportunity to savor and appreciate more soups than we eat in warm weather. One of our favorites that Karen prepared this week is described here in case you'd like to try it too. This soup would not be half as good without the spicy sausage, so if you don't include it because you don't like spicy food, it's not my fault if the soup is not a hit.
1 pound Hot Italian Sausage Links
1 pound carrots, peeled and cut in small pieces
1 large onion, chopped
1-1/4 pound fennel bulb trimmed & cut into 1" pieces
4 large garlic cloves
1 pound lentils, rinsed
6 cups water
4 cups chicken broth
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes in juice
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 tsp thyme
3/4 tsp salt
Prick sausages many times with fork and cook in 8 quart saucepot over medium heat 10-15 minutes or until browned, turning occasionally. Remove to plate.
To drippings in saucepot add carrots, onion, and fennel. Cook vegetables over medium-high heat about 10 minutes or until tender and lightly browned, stirring frequently. Stir in garlic and cook 1 minute.
Add lentils, water, chicken broth, tomatoes with their juice, thyme, salt, and pepper; heat to boiling over high heat. Reduce heat and cover; simmer 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.
Cut sausages into 1/2" thick slices, and stir into soup. Heat to boiling. Cover and simmer 15-20 minutes longer or until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally. Skim off fat and discard.
Serve soup hot to grateful family.