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This soup is from the Cucina!Cucina Restaurant Chain.  The recipe was forwarded
to me by Bon Apetit Magazine.  I am just crazy about this soup and make it often.

Tip:  For best results, allow the lentils to soak covered with water in a refrigerator
overnight.  Then drain and rinse again.
Variations:  This soup is so good as it is written, but a little too caloric for me to
make too often at home.  I substitute 2% milk for the heavy cream and use turkey
Italian sausage.  Its not quite as good as the full fat recipe, but is a terrific sub-
stitute if you are on a restricted diet.

1 1/2 cups lentils rinsed thoroughly
4 links (1 lb.) Italian sausage (mild is used in the restaurant)
1 TBSP butter
1 TBSP Olive Oil (Extra Virgin)
1/2 cup diced white onion
1/2 cup diced carrot
1/4 cup diced leek, white part only
1/4 cup diced celery
1 TBSP salt
1/2 TSP. ground white pepper (or black)
1 QT.  Chicken Stock (I use Swanson's low sodium)
2 TBSP Dijon Mustard
1 TBSP Red Wine Vinegar (Regina)
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup fresh spinach coarsely chopped, divided use
Grated Parmesan Cheese to Taste


In a heavy bottom 2 QT saucepot, add the butter and olive oil.  Heat to melt the
butter, then add the sausage links and brown evenly on all sides.  (While the
sausage is cooking, reduce the heat so the butter does not burn) Cook the
sausage for about 5 minutes, or until the center is done.  Then remove from the
pan and allow to cool. (they will be sliced and added back later)

After removing the sausage, add the onions, carrots, celery, leeks and seasonings
to the pot.  Cook over medium-high heat until the vegetables are tender (about 2
minutes).  I found that it took more like 5 minutes.  Then add the lentils and chicken
stock, stir briefly and bring to a boil.  Stir occasionally to prevent the lentils from
sticking to the bottom of the pan.  When the soup starts to boil, reduce the heat to
low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 45 minutes.  While the soup is
simmering, slice the sausage.

When the lentils are tender add the cream, sausage, mustard, vinegar and 3/4 cup
of the spinach.  Stir to mix all the ingredients well.   Return the soup to a boil, then
reduce heat and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Serve in warm bowls garnished with fresh spinach and parmesan cheese.


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