I suppose that when you get bogged down by the first sniffles of the season, you know well and truly that winter has arrived. Not that it was a big consolation for me when I had to take not just one, but two days off work last week. And while days off work are great, it's not so great when you are forced to take it easy at home. And made to wrap up snugly in bed.
Wait, who am I kidding? That sounds like my ideal day. Minus the stuffy nose of course.
With that being said, I've had my fair share of soups over the past few days. There's just something about soup - I am fairly certain even the sickest person perks up a little bit when they get that first whiff of something hot and steamy. No, not McSteamy - although I'm sure that could also cause some perkiness...
One of my favourite things about soup (which I relayed to my imaginary cooking show viewers the other day - what, like you don't pretend sometimes?) is that it's just so versatile. You can throw the most ordinary of ingredients in a pot, allow to simmer for a while in a liquid of your choice and voila, you've got a great (and usually pretty balanced) meal at the end. With very little effort. Bonus points if your soup is a little bit out of the ordinary, a little bit zingy perhaps or even a smidge fiery like this one.
You can vary the heat to your liking of course, but I do think the bite of chili adds a lovely dimension to this Italian inspired soup. You may notice the inclusion of a rather odd last ingredient - olive jam. I had a semi-finished bottle hanging out in the fridge which just begged to be part of this spicy production. How could I say no?
Sausage and Red Lentil Soup
Serves 4 - 6
2 red bell peppers, seeds removed and quartered
1 cup red lentils
2 tins (410g each) tomatoes
2 1/2 cups water
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp minced garlic
400g pork sausage, sliced
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 tsp dried mint
1/2 - 1 tsp dried red chili flakes
1/4 tsp salt, plus more to taste
1 tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp olive jam (optional)
1. Place bell peppers on an oven tray at 180C to broil. This will take roughly 5 - 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, add lentils, tinned tomatoes and water to a large pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and allow to cook, covered for 10 - 15 minutes or until the lentils have softened and broken down.
3. While the lentils are cooking, heat olive oil in frying pan over high heat. Add garlic and fry for a few seconds, then add the pork sausage.
4. When the pork sausage has browned on all sides, add oregano, mint, chilli flakes, salt, lemon juice and olive jam (if using). Cook for another minute or two to develop the flavours. Set aside.
5. When bell peppers are done, remove them from the oven and puree in a food processor with a little bit of water. Add this to the lentil mixture along with the sausages.
6. Stir to combine everything, taste and adjust seasoning if needed, then cook for another 5 minutes to blend the flavours.
Nutritional info (per serving): Calories 449.7, Total fat 33.3 g, Saturated fat 11.7 g, Polyunsaturated fat 4.4 g, Monounsaturated fat 15.3 g, Cholesterol 77.3 mg, Sodium 1072.2 mg, Potassium 803.9 mg, Total carbohydrate 18.6 g, Dietary fiber 5.6 g, Sugars 4.3 g, Protein 19.9 g
Good source of: Vitamin C 181.4 %, Vitamin A 58.4 %, Thiamin 50.2 %, Selenium 38.2 %, Vitamin B6 32.6 %, Folate 26.0 %, Niacin 26.0 %