Gluten-Free, Corn-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free, Egg-Free, Sugar-Free
Cost of Ingredients: $ Time: 45 minutes
I live in a fairly cold place, most of the year, anyway, and I love a recipe that transitions well between the seasons. This is a simple one-pot dish that comes together quickly and doesn’t require lots of prep, so it’s perfect for a weeknight, and makes enough for leftovers!
I usually follow the original recipe pretty closely, making one or two substitutions based on what I have available, but I recently made dinner for a friend who has just as many restrictions as I do, it’s just that some are different. In addition to dairy, eggs, and wheat, she can’t eat corn, tomatoes, and chicken. Even though this recipe calls for a giant can of tomatoes, I think the substitutions I made worked really well.
It’s possible that this also is one of my favorite recipes because it allows me to use one of my favorite kitchen gadgets, my lovely and brightly colored Le Creuset pot. I buy spicy Italian sausage for this stew, because I like the added heat, and remove the casings and crumble the sausage a bit before browning it in a little oil. You could also buy already loose sausage, or some with a different flavor profile, as long as they’re not cooked yet.
As a tomato substitution I used red and orange peppers and butternut squash, both add a bit of sweetness that balanced the heat nicely.
The juice from the tomatoes usually replaces any need for stock in the original recipe, but since I was missing a bit of that flavor I used half vegetable stock and half water, instead of only water.
Another key to turning this soup into a hearty stew is the lentils. Once all the ingredients are in the pot, you just simmer for about 30 minutes. This is a great dish in winter, but it works just as well on a cold and rainy spring or fall day.
I forgot to take a picture once the stew was plated, but it looks quite similar to this, nearly finished, stage.
Adapted from The Smitten Kitchen.
1/2 cup olive oil
4 spicy Italian sausage links, casing removed and chopped*
1 medium onion, chopped
2 celery stalks
2 peppers, red and orange**
2 cups of cubed butternut quash***
4 cloves of garlic, sliced
salt and pepper
a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup lentils****
2 bay leaves
3 -4 cups vegetable stock*****
2-3 cups water
3-4 cups thinly sliced kale******
- Heat 1/4 cup of olive oil in a large pot.
- Add the broken up sausage and brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the onion, celery, peppers, squash, 2 cloves of garlic, a generous pinch of salt, and red pepper flakes. Cook for another few minutes.
- Add the lentils, bay leaves, vegetable stock, water, and a little more salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-40 minutes, until the lentils are tender.
- In a separate, small pot or pan heat the remaining olive oil with the remaining garlic slivers until the garlic softens and hisses. This doesn’t take very long at all, just a few minutes.
- Add the kale to the stew and cook for just a few more minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves before serving.
- Ladle the stew into bowls, and add a tablespoon of the garlic oil. Don’t burn your tongue, you’ll want to dig in right away, but it’s best to let it cool a tiny bit.
- The original recipe calls for serving this topped with some grated Pecorino Romano, which, of course, is delicious. But this stew is truly just as good without the cheese, and I’m not just saying that because I can’t eat cheese.
*We like how hearty this stew is, and lots of sausage helps that. It’s also delicious with less sausage. And feel free to experiment with what kind of sausage you use, I like a little spice.
**Any color pepper will work, I just happen to like the red and orange ones, especially with the orange squash.
***A little more or a little less will work just fine.
****Red ones or green ones work best, but really any kind of lentil will do. Make sure to rinse and sort them.
*****If you have allergies or restrictions, make sure to check ingredients when buying stock, some companies hide all kinds of things here.
******Chard (the swiss or the rainbow kind) will work just as well as any of the kale varieties.
This is a great base recipe that allows for substitutions and experiments. Let me know what you come up with in the comments! The leftovers freeze well also. I usually store about two servings in glass jars in the fridge for the following few days, and then another one or two servings in the freezer.