Instead of starting the New Year with Black Eyed Pea soup, why not begin with a legume that has a rich history and is also high in protein. Lentils have been part of man's diet for thousands upon thousands of years. Its colors range from yellow to red-orange to green, brown and black. They vary in size and require not a very long cooking time. Lentils are high in protein, thus providing another wonderful source for protein in our diet.
2-3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 cup finely diced onion
1/2 cup finely diced carrots, or more to taste
1/2 cup finely diced celery
3-5 cloves garlic, minced, depending on taste
Kosher salt, to taste, if desired
2 bay leaves
1 pound sweet, mild or hot Italian sausage, cooked, rinsed and crumbled, optional
1 pound smoked sausage, sliced into 1/2" rounds, optional
1 pound diced ham, optional
16 ounces dried lentils, picked and rinsed
8 ounces peeled and chopped tomatoes
1 small can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes
2 handfuls fresh spinach, rinsed and patted dry
8 cups or 2 quarts chicken or vegetable broth, more if soup is too thick
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground toasted cumin
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Dash red pepper flakes, optional
- Add the olive oil into a large Dutch oven or stock pot and place over medium heat. Once hot, add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, bay leaves, and salt and sauté' until the onions and garlic are translucent, approximately 6 to 7 minutes. If using, add meat and sauté for a couple of minutes.
- Add the lentils, tomatoes, spinach, broth, coriander, cumin, pepper and, if using, red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Increase the heat to high and bring just to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover and cook at a low simmer until the lentils are tender, approximately 35 to 40 minutes. If you want you can puree soup by using a handheld blender. Or you can skip this step and serve as is. Serve immediately. Serves 6 to 8.
Note: You can top this soup with splashes of olive oil, sour cream or crumbled bacon or turkey bacon. Sometimes, I add a dash of smoked sweet paprika. The spices in this soup can be modified by adding more or less to your personal taste.
Note: I like to cook the Italian sausage separately and then rinse it in a colander before adding it to the soup. This keeps the fat out of the soup, but I still have the flavor of the meat in it. If adding smoked sausage or ham, I just slice it and add to soup as is.