If I had to narrow down my pantry to only ten ingredients, one thing that would definitely make the cut is lentils. There are so many interesting ways to cook this humble little legume; in fact you could probably built an entire blog around lentil soup recipes. I've posted my share of lentils soups in the past, but this version of lentil soup that's adapted from a recipe in The French Slow Cookerhas the interesting combination of turkey bratwurst and leeks. This is a tummy-warming soup that could cook all day on low while you're at work.
The hardest thing about the recipe may be finding the turkey bratwurst, but if you don't see it choose another type of turkey or chicken sausage that has some garlic in it. (Pick sausage with less than 10% fat for the South Beach Diet.)
My sausage wasn't precooked it, so I browned it well in a little olive oil. I recommend browning even for pre-cooked sausage for the best flavor.
I used one large leek. Leeks can be full of grit, so I chopped up the light green and white parts and then washed the leeks in the salad spinner.
(Makes 6-8 servings; recipe adapted from Alsatian Lentil Soup with Bratwurst in The French Slow Cooker.)
I used a Crock-Pot 5-Quart Smart-Pot Slow Cookerfor this recipe.
5 links (19.5 oz.) turkey bratwurst (or use any type of low-fat turkey or chicken sausage, preferably one with some garlic in it)
2 tsp. olive oil (to brown the sausage)
2 cups brown lentils
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped carrots
1 large leek, light green and white parts chopped and then washed in salad spinner or colander
2 bay leaves
1 tsp. dried thyme
8 cups chicken stock (I used my homemade chicken stock)
2 T Spanish sherry vinegar (or use another mild flavored vinegar)
chopped parsley for garnish (optional)
Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and brown the sausage well. (You could skip this step if you're using pre-cooked sausage, but browning the sausage will add flavor.) Rinse the lentils if needed (lentils that come in a package usually don't need to be rinsed, but if you buy in bulk I would rinse them.) Chop the celery and carrots. Chop light green and white parts of the leek and then wash in salad spinner or in a colander placed in the sink.
Put the whole sausages, lentils, chopped celery, chopped carrots, chopped leeks, bay leaves, dried thyme and chicken stock into the slow cooker. Cook 4-5 hours on high (or 8-9 hours on low) or until the lentils are well-softened and barely starting to dissolve into the soup. Remove sausage and cut into bite-sized pieces, add back into soup and cook on high for 20-30 minutes more. Stir in the vinegar and serve hot, with chopped fresh parsley if desired.
If you prefer a soup where the sausage is more chewy, leave it out until the lentils are nearly done. Then slice the sausage and add to the soup and cook one more hour on high.
This freezes well. To prep the night before, brown the sausage and chop the vegetables and store in the fridge in a large bowl with a snap-tight lid. The next morning, put all ingredients in the slow cooker. (Starting with cold ingredients may add to the cooking time by 30-45 minutes.)
South Beach Suggestions:
If you're making this soup for the South Beach Diet, it's important to use sausage that has less than 10% fat. Lentils and low-glycemic dried beans are allowed in limited amounts for all phases of the diet, but using carrots in this soup would make it limited to phase 2 or 3. I think the soup would still be good without carrots if you wanted to leave them out and make it for phase one.
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.
More Tasty Slow Cooker Soups with Lentils:
(Recipes from other blogs not always South Beach Diet friendly; check ingredients.)
Moroccan Lentil Soup from A Year of Slow Cooking
CrockPot Red Lentil and Sweet Potato Soup with Curry and Coconut Milk from Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow Cooker Lentil and Brown Rice Soup with Preserved Lemons and Garlic Sausage from The Perfect Pantry
Crockpot (or Stovetop) Double Lentil, Sausage, Brown Rice, and Spinach Soup from Kalyn's Kitchen
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Lentil Soup from Chick in the Kitchen
(Want even more recipes? I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at Amazon.com, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!