Let's face it - Southern California has the most amazing weather all year long. I love that it's warm enough that I can BBQ on a weeknight but also cool enough that I can make soup and not have the air conditioning on just to make it edible. Ahhh, we really live in paradise. I made a big batch of this soup the other night and ate the leftovers for days. It was so delicious, hearty and healthy!
1 cup finely chopped celery
1 Tablespoon garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon oregano
5 links hot turkey Italian sausage (I got mine at Henry's Market and they were huge so I only used three)
6 cups chicken stock
1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
1 (6 ounce) can tomato paste
1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper, to taste
Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Saute onion, celery and garlic until just starting to soften, about 5 minutes. Add thyme and oregano and saute for another minute. Squeeze turkey sausages out of their casings and into the pot. Brown the sausages, breaking them up, until nearly cooked through. Add 2 cups of chicken stock and deglaze the pan (break up the flavors on the bottom of the pot).
Add the remaining 4 cups of chicken stock, diced tomatoes (with juice), tomato paste and bay leaves. Bring just to a boil and add the dried lentils. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until the lentils are soft and the soup has thickened (I like it quite thick but you can add a cup or two of more chicken stock if you like).
Season with plenty of salt and pepper. I served this with a dollop of sour cream and chopped cilantro because at our house everything is Mexican inspired.