I have a confession to make.
I actually go out to eat quite a bit. Much as I love cooking, I also love the restaurant experience. Being more than a few years out, the habits of a WLSer with regards to restaurant eating are pretty second nature. I usually never go to a restaurant where I can’t check out the food stats before-hand. I ask for no bread. I drink water until my meal, stop when I begin eating. We all know the drill.
So I discovered this lovely soup at Carabba’s Grill.
It’s their Italian Sausage & Lentil soup. It was quite yummy! It was a bit more caloric than most of you probably want to go for but it was a splurge for me that day!
Still…in my head, as I am eating, I’m thinking, “I have to figure out a way to make a lighter version of this!”
And that’s precisely what I did!
Nik’s Italian Sausage & Lentil Soup
(Best I can tell this makes 8, one-cup servings or thereabouts. If that’s too much for you and your family, this recipe is pretty easy to halve!)
- Olive oil non-stick cooking spray
- 1 medium onion, diced
- 1 large tomato, cored and diced (or a can of diced tomatoes)
- 2 c. whatever additional veggies you’d like, cut into small pieces (the
original seemed to have green peppers and carrots. I just used yellow squash.)
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 4 turkey or chicken Italian sausage links, casings removed
- 1 lb. dry lentils (any color that moves you)
- 1 tsp. extra – virgin olive oil (optional)
- 32 oz. low-sodium chicken broth
- ½ tsp. (or to taste) Italian seasoning
- ¼ tsp. (more if you like spicy), red pepper flakes
- 2 c. water
Spray large pot with olive oil cooking spray, set it over a medium flame and allow it to get hot.
Add diced onions and sautee about 2-3 minutes before adding remaining veggies, garlic and Italian sausage.
Break up Italian Sausage (as if you are browning ground beef) and cook thoroughly. At this point, if you wish, you can drain the meat/onion mixture of fat (depending on the type of sausage there may not be much).
Add the lentils to the pot and stir them through. Add the olive oil. (Note: This is a trick I use when I want olive oil flavor but not the olive oil calories. I cook the veggies in non-stick then add a small amount of olive oil later to get the flavor hit.)
Add the chicken broth, seasonings and water and cover, allowing the mixture to come to a boil. Then drop the heat to medium-low and allow the soup to cook until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.
So here’s how I think mine compares to the original. I love how the taste of the sausage comes through in this soup. Mine is a bit less salty than Carrabba’s was. (I even saved a bit of my soup from lunch to compare, so of this I am quite sure!) I played with the ratio of lentils to sausage a bit in this recipe so that there’s a bit more lentils than sausage in my bowl, but I like that! If you like it the other way around, knock back to ½ lb. of lentils. My soups also tend to resemble what Rachel Ray would call a “stoup” (stoop?), in that I don’t leave a ton of excess liquid. Soups are one of those paradoxical post-op foods that make you break the “no eating and drinking together” rule so I try not to put myself in that situation!Finally, this soup is crazy good the day you make it (especially with some fresh grated Parmesan on top) but it is insane the next day. What the heck happens to food when it sits in
the fridge overnight? It’s like there’s a party in there!
At any rate, give this soup a try. I liked it. My picky eldest daughter liked it. My youngest has once again professed herself a vegetarian so I may have to find some vegetarian Italian sausage next time so she’ll eat it.