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Nutella Chocolate Rice Pudding

  • January 16, 2009

I was inspired by Marie of “Proud Italian Cook” to make this dessert, after she posted her recipe for a decadent Nutella Hot Chocolate earlier this week.

I got to thinking … hmm, I have a jar of artisanal chocolate and hazelnut spread that was given to us last October by a young couple we met at a chestnut festival in Soriano, Italy. It’s made with dark chocolate – my favorite – but after microwaving it in the jar several times to pour over poached pears and ice cream, it had hardened beyond hope. Maybe I could salvage it by melting it in some heated cream to flavor a rice pudding — one of my husband’s favorite desserts.
I had just enough for about three servings.
That was last night.
Now who gets to eat the one serving that’s left in the fridge?
This is not going to be pretty.

Nutella Chocolate Rice Pudding

If you don’t have Nutella, or an artisanal chocolate-hazelnut spread as I did, you can substitute about 3 tablespoons of cocoa.

1 1/2 cups skim milk
1 1/2 cups cream
or
3 cups half and half

1/4 cup Nutella, or a similar spread
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup arborio riceCheck Spelling
1 tsp. vanilla
2 tsp. Cointreau, rum or any liqueur

In a medium saucepan, gently heat the milk and cream or half and half. Add the remaining ingredients, except vanilla and liqueur. Stir constantly over low to medium heat for about 20 minutes, until mixture thickens. Remove from heat and add vanilla and liqueur. Pour into serving bowls and cover with a piece of plastic wrap in order to avoid “skin” from forming. Serve as is or with whipped cream.

Trofie pasta with swordfish

  • January 14, 2009
I just love this twisted, squiggly pasta shape called trofie. They’re fairly easy to find in the U.S. now, but years ago that wasn’t the case. They are commonly served with pesto in the region of Liguria, which is practically synonymous with the basil-based sauce. But trofie are used with many other types of sauces too.

I first encountered them years ago on the isle of Elba at a little trattoria called “Osteria del Noce” where a cat named Osvaldo had taken up residence and was seated upright on a chair at one of the large dining tables, waiting for his meal. I noticed everyone else at the nearby table had ordered the trofie dish. I figured it must be good, even though I didn’t know what it was. So I ordered it and it was exquisite — laden with teensy weensy clams and local shellfish that are impossible to get here in the states. So I’m offering up a different version that still tastes great and is economical too. For two people, I used only six ounces of swordfish and 1/2 pound of trofie – and there was still enough leftover for a cat too – not Osvaldo, but my resident feline Rocky.

Trofie Pasta with swordfish:
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup minced onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 green pepper, minced, optional
1/4 carrot, grated
1 28 ounce can tomatoes, preferably San Marzano
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 T. tomato paste
2 T. capers
1/4 cup green olives, pitted and smashed (I forgot to add them this time, but it was still good)
1/4 tsp. dried basil flakes
salt, pepper and red pepper flakes to taste
6 ounces swordfish, cut into chunks or small pieces

Saute onion, garlic, pepper, and carrot until softened. Add tomatoes, crushing with fingers. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for 1/2 hour. This will make more than enough sauce for two servings. You may not want to use it all, but take some out to store or use
later. Add the swordfish and simmer for five minutes more before serving.

For Maria – Lemon “Angel Wing” Cupcakes

  • January 13, 2009

My mother Maria used to bake these cupcakes for me and my sister to take to school on our birthdays when we were young girls. She called them “angel wing cupcakes.”

My mother was lauded for her wonderful Italian cooking, but not so much for her baking. Indeed, she used a box mix for both the cupcakes and the lemon filling, but to us they were the best cupcakes in the world. Like everything Maria did, she baked these with love.

My mother died 22 years ago, way too young at 64 years of age.

I haven’t eaten these cupcakes since I was little, but I baked them yesterday – on my mother’s birthday – in tribute to a loving woman who is still dearly missed.

Lemon Cupcakes

2 1/2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 tsp. salt
2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1 3/4 cups sugar
3 eggs
2 egg yolks
2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 tsp. grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup milk

Sift together dry ingredients. In mixer, beat the butter until creamy, then add sugar and beat until mixture is well blended and light, about three or four minutes. Add whole eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, then add vanilla extract and lemon zest and beat a little more. Mix in lemon juice. The batter will look curdled but don’t worry about it – when you blend in the flour mixture it will become smooth again. Add the dry ingredients alternating with the milk until completely blended. Fill cupcakes 2/3 full and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. I filled mine too full and had to trim off the part that spilled over after they had cooled.

When cupcakes are cooled, take a small paring knife and excavate a small pyramid shape from the top of each one. Set aside the small cut-out. Fill the hole with lemon filling. Cut the reserved pyramid shape in half and arrange on top of the filling. Dust with confectioner’s sugar and place a maraschino cherry in center.

Lemon Filling:

1 cup sugar
2 T. all-purpose flour
3 T. cornstarch
pinch of salt
1 1/2 cups water
juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 T. butter
4 egg yolks

In a pan, stir together sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt. Add water, lemon juice and lemon zest and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Stir in the butter. In a bowl, beat the egg yolks with a whisk, then stir in a small amount of the hot lemon mixture. Continue to add a small amount of the hot mixture to the egg yolks, whisking all the while. If you add the hot mixture too quickly, you risk curdling the eggs. The idea is to slowly raise the temperature of the eggs with a small amount of the hot lemon mixture. Use it for the cupcake filling “as is,” but if you’re worried about raw egg yolks, put everything back on the range and cook another minute or two. The mixture should be thick, but will thicken even more when cool.

A Very Late Buche De Noel

  • January 11, 2009

This is what I normally prepare for Christmas Day dessert, but this year I chose to make a Raspberry Bombe instead. As tasty as the bombe was, I have to say I missed the buche. The yule-log was missing from our yule.

So I took the opportunity to make it for a post-Hanukkah party this weekend. It doesn’t have to be a holiday treat. It is sensational for any large, winter gathering, with shredded coconut strewn for snow and little meringue mushrooms sprouting up around the log.

It’s not a project for the faint of heart, but if you’re patient and follow the directions carefully, you can do it. If you can read, you can cook, I always tell friends who lament that they can’t cook. Muster up your courage and go for it. Make sure you read the directions thoroughly before starting. If you really mess it up, you can throw it all in a glass bowl and call it a trifle. If you don’t tell anyone it was supposed to be a yule log, they’ll never know.
I’ll never forget my first attempt at making a chocolate souffle, decades ago. It never rose to puffy heights, but my husband proclaimed the dessert “the best brownies I’ve ever eaten.”

With a few small changes, this is adapted from a recipe for “bittersweet chocolate roulade” from an episode of “America’s Test Kitchen.”

This cake tastes best served at room temperature.

for the cake:

6 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, chopped fine
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into two pieces
2 tablespoons cold water
1/4 cup sifted cocoa, plus 1 T. for unmolding
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for baking sheet
1/8 t. salt
6 large eggs, separated
1/3 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract
1/8 t. cream of tartar


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 12 x 17 inch rimmed baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray, cover pan bottom with parchment paper and spray parchment with nonstick cooking spray. Dust surface with flour and tap out excess.

2. Bring some water to a simmer in a small saucepan over medium heat. Combine chocolate, butter and water in small heatproof bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Set bowl over pan, reduce heat to medium low and heat until butter is almost completely melted and chocolate pieces are glossy and fully melted. Do not stir or let water boil under chocolate. Remove bowl from pan, unwrap and stir until smooth and glossy.

3. While chocolate is melting, sift 1/4 cup cocoa, flour and salt together into small bowl and set aside.

4. In bowl of standing mixer fitted with whisk attachment, beat whites and cream of tartar at medium speed until foamy, about 30 seconds. With mixer running, add about 1 t. sugar; continue beating until soft peaks form, about 40 seconds. Gradually add half of sugar and beat until whites are glossy and hold stiff peaks when whisk is lifted, about 1 minute longer. Do not over beat. If whites look dry and granular, they are over beaten. Remove whites into a large bowl.

5. Beat yolks at medium speed until just combined, and add half of remaining sugar. Continue to beat, scraping down sides of bowl as necessary until yolks are pale yellow and mixture falls in thick ribbons when whisk is lifted, about 8 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to combine, scraping down bowl once.

6. Stir chocolate mixture into yolks, a small amount at a time so you don’t scramble the eggs. With a rubber spatula, stir one quarter of the whites into the chocolate mixture to lighten it. Fold remaining whites until almost no streaks remain. Sprinkle dry ingredients over top and fold in quickly but gently.

7. Pour batter into prepared pan, smoothing batter into pan corners. Bake until center of cake springs back when touched with finger, 8 to 10 minutes, rotating pan halfway through baking. Cool in pan on wire rack for 5 minutes.

8. While cake is cooling, lay clean kitchen towel over work surface and sift remaining tablespoon cocoa over towel. With hands, rub cocoa into towel. Run paring knife around perimeter of baking sheet to loosen cake. Invert cake onto paper towels and peel off parchment. This is tricky and it’s entirely possible that the cake will crack when you’re inverting it, or rolling it, as it did for me. Don’t worry if this happens. It can be covered with frosting.

9. Roll cake, paper towels and all, into jelly roll shape. Cool for 15 minutes, then unroll cake and paper towels. Spread filling over surface of cake, almost to edges. Roll up cake gently but snugly around filling. Put cake seam-side down on top and place in refrigerator for an hour to harden the filling a bit. This will make it easier to frost.

10. Remove cake from refrigerator and trim ends at a diagonal. Spread ganache frosting on cake, including exposed edges. Take the edges that you trimmed off and attach to the top of the log as little stumps, using a long wooden skewer to help prevent them from sliding off. Spread more ganache on the little stumps reserving a teaspoonful for later. Use a fork to make wood-grain striations on the surface of the ganache before the icing has set. Refrigerate uncovered. Before serving, remove wooden skewers and patch the hole with a little dab of some frosting. Bring to room temperature before serving, for best flavor.

Filling:

Espresso-Mascarpone Cream

1/2 cup heavy cream
3 teaspoons instant espresso powder
1/2 cup sifted confectioner’s sugar
16 ounces mascarpone cheese

1. Simmer cream in a small saucepan over high heat. Remove from heat and stir in espresso powder and powdered sugar. Cool.
2. With spatula, beat mascarpone in medium bowl until softened. Gently whisk in cooled cream mixture until combined.

Chocolate Ganache

3/4 cup heavy cream
2 T. unsalted butter
6 ounces bittersweet or semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1 T. cognac

Microwave cream and butter in measuring cup on high until bubbling, about 1 1/2 minutes. Place chocolate in bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. With machine running, gradually add hot cream and cognac through feed tube and process until smooth and thickened, about 3 minutes. Transfer ganache to medium bowl and let stand at room temperature for one hour, until spreadable.

Meringue Mushrooms

2 egg whites
1/4 cup sugar
dash cream of tartar

Beat egg whites until frothy. Add cream of tartar and sugar, gradually, until mixture forms stiff peaks. Place into a plastic bag and trim off a bit at the corner. Or use a pastry bag. Pipe onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet, some in small cap shapes and some in long “stem” shapes. Dab the tops with water to smooth out any pointy tips. Bake at 200 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, then turn off the oven and leave in the oven another 1/2 hour. Let cool. Before serving cake, cut little holes in the bottom of a cap shaped piece and push a stem shaped piece into it. You can frost the bottom of the cap first if you like, but be aware that these will soften quickly once you frost them. Don’t assemble the mushrooms until you are ready to serve the cake. When all the mushrooms are placed around the cake, dust the caps and the cake with more cocoa, for a “dirt” effect.

Avocado and Pomegranate Salad

  • January 11, 2009

There’s a line in Shakespeare’s “All’s Well That Ends Well,” in which one of the characters says: “Go to, sir; you were beaten in Italy for picking a kernel out of a pomegranate.”

For this recipe, which requires dozens of pomegranate seeds, there’s no worry about being beaten in Italy. There’s only the time-consuming task of removing those seeds from those pesky, pulpy membranes. The rest of the recipe is a snap.

What you’ll end up with is a healthy and unusual salad that’s colorful as a Christmas wreath and delicious too. It requires only two ingredients – avocados and pomegranates, plus some olive oil and lemon juice as a dressing. It comes to you via my friend Anna Rosa, who spends a lot of time in Italy, but has never once been beaten for plucking a seed from a pomegranate.

Here’s the recipe:

Peel two avocados and cube. Mix in a bowl with seeds from one pomegranate. Toss with olive oil and lemon juice to taste.

Potato Latkes

  • January 10, 2009

It’s a conspiracy. I’ll never get rid of those extra pounds from the holiday. Cookies, cakes, ice creams, chocolates, rich roasts, luscious cheeses and fish feasts were all part of our Christmas holiday eating.
Newsflash: the holidays were extended this year. Hanukkah was moved to January.

Well, not really, but we were invited to a post-Hanukkah party by friends who normally host this gathering in December. The hostess made these addictive latkes as appetizers, which we devoured — prosecco in hand. She also prepared an intensely flavorful brisket as the main course, while the guests filled out the menu with side dishes of eggplant rollatini, roasted artichoke hearts, spinach with pine nuts and raisins, fennel gratinee and an avocado and pomegranate salad. Not full yet? Let’s hope not, because dessert included an apple galette, pound cake, rugelach, fresh fruit salad and a buche de noel.

It’s not really a conspiracy. It’s my good fortune to be included in the festivities by these gracious hosts and to share a fabulous meal with some of the nicest people and the best cooks I know.

Still, now you know why I left early for the gym this morning.

Here is my friend’s recipe for the latkes, inspired by a recipe from Gloria Kausergreen’s Jewish Holiday Cookbook.

Potato Latkes

makes about 20 latkes

3 large russet potatoes, about 2.5 pounds
1 lemon
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp. salt
2 T. flour
1 large onion
sour cream
caviar (my friend used Romanoff black caviar)
vegetable oil for frying

Peel potatoes and cut in halves or thirds. Soak in a bowl of cold water mixed with a little lemon juice to keep the potatoes from discoloring.
Peel onion, cut into chunks and add to the bowl with the potatoes.
In another large bowl, beat the eggs, flour and salt with a whisk, making sure the flour is fully blended with the egg.
Using the medium grating disk of a food processor, remove some of the potatoes from the bowl and begin to grate. Do not use the fine grating disk. The potatoes should look like strings when they come out of the food processor, so that when they are fried the latkes will look lacy.
Next take some onion and grate using the same disk. Alternate grating potatoes and onions, repeating the process in several batches.
After each batch is grated, put the potatoes and onions into a colander to drain off some of the liquid.
After all the potatoes and onions are grated and in the colander, take your hand and squeeze out handfuls, draining off the liquid.
Place the drained potatoes and onions into the bowl with the egg and flour mixture. Stir with your hands until the potatoes and onions are well integrated with the egg mixture.
Using your hands, pick up a fistful of the potato and onion mixture and squeeze forcefully into a ball, draining out as much liquid as possible.
In a heavy skillet, heat the vegetable oil to high, then lower the heat to medium or medium high, as needed.
Press the latkes into a flat, oval shape and fry in the oil, pressing down with a spatula to flatten even further.
Turn over and fry on the other side, until the latkes are crispy all over. Add more oil as needed. Drain on paper towels, and serve with a dollop of sour cream and black caviar.

Sauteed Shrimp with Celery Root and Apple Puree

  • January 8, 2009

Pity the poor celery root. Also known as celeriac, it must be one of the ugliest vegetables ever. I mean who wants to even pick up that gnarly tuber with all those nubby, root-like things sprouting all over it, much less cook it and eat it?

Well, I took pity on the sad vegetable and gave it a home in my kitchen. And you should too, if you’re interested in good food and new culinary adventures. It has a subtle celery flavor that pairs with nearly everything. I used only skim milk – no cream or butter in this recipe – yet it had a luscious, silky texture and was a perfect foil for the sauce oozing off the shrimp.

And for those of you avoiding carbs, this puree would be a great substitute for mashed potatoes or polenta, especially nestled beside pot roast or osso buco.

You may end up running for a Band-Aid if you’re not careful when peeling the celery root. I found it safest to trim off the thickest, nubbiest parts with a medium-sized knife in one hand, rather than a vegetable peeler, pressing down on the top of the celery root as it lay on my cutting board, rather than picking it up and trying to trim it in my hand.

Sauteed Shrimp
(serves two)

8 large shrimp
1 shallot, minced
1 large garlic clove, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
salt, pepper to taste
4 cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice

Saute the shallot and garlic in a skillet over medium heat with the olive oil and 1 tablespoon butter, just until softened. Add the shrimp, turning the heat a little higher, and quickly saute on both sides. You don’t want to cook it all the way through just yet, just brown the outsides. Remove the shrimp from the skillet and add the cherry tomato halves to the pan. Cook for another minute or two until the tomato starts to soften. Place the shrimp back in the pan, add the wine and season with salt and pepper. Cook for another couple of minutes, until some of the liquid has evaporated and the sauce is reduced. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and swirl around on medium heat until it looks like the sauce has emulsified, or thickened. Add the lemon juice and minced parsley, swirl again over the heat and serve over the celery root puree.

Celery Root and Apple Puree

(Adapted from “A New Way to Cook” by Sally Schneider)

1 celery root, peeled and cubed (about 1 lb. to 1 1/2 lbs.)
3 cups milk (I used skim)
3/4 tsp. freshly ground sea salt
freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 Tablespoons white rice
1 apple, peeled, cored and cut into cubes
2 teaspoons unsalted butter (I omitted this)

Cook the celery root in a saucepan with the milk, (I used skim milk which works fine, but the original recipe called for 2 percent milk), salt, pepper and bring to a boil over moderate heat. Stir in the rice, lower the heat, partially cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the apples and simmer for 10 minutes longer, or until the celery root is very tender. (The milk will curdle, but the curds will be incorporated when the celery root is pureed.) Drain the mixture in a colander set over a bowl, but save the cooking liquid.

Puree the celery root in a food processor or blender until perfectly smooth, adding some of the cooking liquid if necessary. Scrape down sides until you have a fine puree. Add the butter if desired, but I left it out and it was delicious with just the drippings from the shrimp sauce. This puree is enough for four servings.

La Befana brings burnt almonds

  • January 5, 2009

The legend of La Befana is an ancient Italian tradition that takes place on January 6. The benevolent but ugly old witch with a hunchback, wearing a baboushka and ragged clothing, makes her rounds to children the night of January 5, leaving treats of candy (and sometimes coal or garlic for naughty children) inside shoes or stockings left out overnight.

The legend harks back to the 12th night of Christmas, or Epiphany, when the three wise men were searching for the baby Jesus. They found La Befana sweeping her doorway and asked her to join them, but she initially declined, saying she had too much cleaning to do. Later when she realized it was the Redeemer that the wise men were in search of, she changed her mind. She left right away, but unfortunately for her, couldn’t find the baby. That’s why she still goes out each January 5 on her magic broom, hoping to find the baby Jesus, while leaving gifts for other children as well. To this day, children in Italy still receive gifts on January 6 and celebrations and parades are held all across the peninsula. Two years ago on the night of January 5, we were skiing near Bressanone, in the Italian Alps, when we heard drums in the distance. Nearer and nearer came the sound, and along with the drummers appeared a parade of people dressed in costumes from the Middle Ages, with La Befana in a carriage at the very end, tossing out candies to everyone.

This year La Befana surprised us and flew across the ocean to my hometown in Central New Jersey. There at the meeting of “Le Matte,” my weekly Italian chit-chat and coffee group, the ladies were gathered at my friend Vanda’s home. Just when we were having our second round of espresso and pannettone, who walks in but La Befana, wart-y face, babushka and all! She even handed out burnt almond treats for the women — at least the ones who had been nice this year. She truly looked wretched. I sure hope she makes it back across the ocean on that broom!

I’m including a recipe for the burnt almonds that La Befana handed out.

This recipe is taken from Delicious Day’s blog entry, Semifreddo of Burnt Almonds. I made only the almonds, not the semifreddo. The original recipe is in metric measurements, so I converted and doubled the amounts. My almonds turned out crunchy, with a hard-shell candy-like exterior, and they were good, but I must have gone astray somewhere. The ones on Delicious Day’s blog have more a more crystaline-sugary texture to them. I don’t know what I did wrong, but I do know that I have a seriously burned pot that will require a lot of steel wool and elbow grease to clean.

Burnt Almonds

2 cups almonds, with skins
1/2 cup water
2/3 c. sugar
2 T. vanilla sugar (I used vanilla)
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

Line a baking tray with parchment paper. Boil the water, sugar, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon in a large saucepan. Add the almonds and let cook over medium to high heat while stirring occasionally. The liquid will have evaporated after 5 – 8 minutes and the sugar will cover the almonds with a dry crust. Now reduce the temperature and keep stirring until the sugar turns liquid again and coats all the almonds evenly as caramel. Pour onto the prepared tray. Quickly separate the almonds from each other with two forks (not with your fingers, very hot!) and let them cool (they keep for several days in an airtight container).

Chicken breasts stuffed with goat cheese and mushrooms

  • January 4, 2009

This dish is terrific for when company’s coming. It tastes great, and it looks like you slaved all day in the kitchen. Don’t tell anyone, but it takes only 15 minutes to assemble. Then you’re home free.

Get everything prepared ahead of time, set it aside or keep it in the fridge until guests arrive. Then pop the pan in the oven and go chill out with your guests. Twenty minutes later, your main course is ready to serve. What could be simpler? But don’t wait for company to come calling to make this dish. It’s great any night of the week.

For two large servings:

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
6 medium -size white mushrooms, finely minced
1 T. butter
goat cheese, about 3 ounces
2 T. olive oil
1 T. butter
1/2 cup dry white wine
salt, pepper
minced parsley

Open up the chicken breasts and pound with a mallet to flatten. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
Saute the finely minced mushrooms in the 1 tablespoon of butter until cooked and liquid has evaporated – about two minutes or so. Season mushrooms with salt and pepper. Spread the mushrooms over the chicken breast, then divide the goat cheese evenly between the two breasts. Roll from the narrow end toward the wider end. Tie loosely with twine.
Heat the butter and olive oil in a heavy, oven-proof skillet. I used a small, cast-iron skillet. Over medium high heat, brown the chicken rolls on all sides. This should only take five minutes max. Lower heat and slowly add the white wine. Don’t add too quickly or over high heat or it could flame up. Season with salt and pepper and minced parsley.
Place an oven-proof lid on the skillet and bake for 20 minutes in a 350 degree oven. Remove string and serve with juices from pan.

Lentil sausage soup

  • January 2, 2009

Buon Anno!

Want to get your new year off to a good start? No, I’m not talking about the umpteenth resolution to lose weight. I’m talking about lentils. They are traditionally eaten by many Italians on January 1 to augur a year of prosperity and good luck.

I would have gotten this to you earlier so you’d have more time to cook this today, but my computer was non compos mentis until a half hour ago, when it finally came to its senses and started working again. (Personally, I think it just wanted to watch the Philadelphia Mummer’s Parade in its entirety just once.)

You can enjoy this soup any time of the year, although it’s particularly welcome on a cold winter day, joined by a hunk of freshly baked bread straight out of the oven. You did read yesterday’s post and run right out to get some yeast, right? Right.

I use Italian sausage in this recipe – the kind you get when you order a sausage and pepper sandwich at any Italian street festival. In Italy, lentils are served on New Year’s Day with a type of sausage called cotechino, or with zampone, a stuffed pig’s trotter. Neither is easy to find where I live, but truth be told, I don’t like either of them.

If you prefer, leave the sausage out entirely and make it a vegetarian soup. It will still be good, but not as rich in flavor. This makes a LOT of soup. It would be perfect to invite a gang of friends for an informal meal and serve this with a salad and some cheese and crackers. Otherwise, it stores well in the freezer.

Lentil Sausage Soup

3 links, or about 10 ounces Italian sausage
1 lb. dry lentils
1/4 cup olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 stalks celery, chopped
1 large carrot, or 2 small carrots, sliced
4 cups Tuscan, or lacinato kale, chopped (or regular kale if you can’t find the other kind)
12 cups water
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon salt
1 tsp. black pepper
2 tsps. dried basil
1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes

Take the casing off the sausages and fry in a skillet, breaking up the links into bite-size pieces. Drain.
Rinse the lentils in a colander. In a separate large pot, saute the onion, celery and garlic in the olive oil until translucent. Add the lentils and the rest of the ingredients, including the drained sausage. Cook for 1 1/2 – 2 hours. You may need to add more water if the soup gets too thick. Adjust seasonings to taste and serve.