Excellent recipe as written! What I have done differently making this soup many more times is this: Bump up sausage to one pound, as sausage is usually sold in one pound units and what else am I to do with the leftover half pound,other than toss it onto some pasta with tomato sauce -that was good too. Same with the pasta, bump that up to a full pound too. Next, I have doubled the quantity of dried herbs, using 2 teaspoons of an Italian blend. Skip the salt, plenty of that already in the sausage. And reduce water to 6 cups and replace with 2 more cups of broth. Make sure to use brown or green lentils. The red and yellow lentils will turn to mush. These changes intensify the flavor, and it becomes more like stew on the soup/stew scale.
Slice some Italian bread, spread with soft butter, sprinkle some grated parmasan cheese and a pinch of Italian herbs, place buttered/cheese side down on the griddle and fry until crisp golden brown. Very filling.
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Excellent recipe as written! What I have done differently making this soup many more times is...