A few weekends ago I went to Carrabba’s Restaurant for lunch. I don’t go to Carrabbas that often but when I do it’s hard for me to pass up their spicy sausage and lentil soup. It’s probably my favorite thing on their menu. As I was eating it for lunch that day, I thought to myself, this can’t be too hard to make. I tried to really taste the different flavors and components so I could replicate it at home. And I think this recipe comes pretty close. It may not be exactly the same as Carrabbas famous soup but it’s close enough, and really delicious.
Spicy sausage and lentil soup
1 lb spicy Italian sausage, casings removed
1 onion, finely chopped
2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
2 stalks of celery, peeled and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 jalapeno, minced (if you don’t want it too spicy, remove the seeds or omit altogether)
2 tsp of fresh thyme, minced
2 tsp. of dried basil
2 tsp. of dried oregano
2 tbsp. tomato paste
2-3 bay leaves (dried or fresh)
2 cups of lentils, rinsed
2 cans of diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies)
6 cups of chicken stock
The rind of a block of parmesan cheese OR 1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese (if you don’t have the rind)
1/2 cup of minced fresh parsley
Grated parmesan cheese for serving
salt & pepper
1. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large Dutch oven, over medium heat. Add the sausage and break apart with a wooden spoon or spatula until the sausage is crumbly and brown. Remove the sausage to plate lined with a paper towel and set aside.
2. Add the diced onions, carrots and celery to the pot and let them cook for 6-7 minutes until translucent, stirring and scraping the bottom of the pot to get any brown bits from the sausage off the bottom. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Add the garlic and jalapeno and let cook for another minute or two. Then, add the thyme, basil, oregano, tomato paste and bay leaves and stir for another 1-2 minutes until the tomato paste is broken up.
4. Next add the lentils, diced tomatoes, chicken stock and parmesan cheese rind (or grated parmesan). Bring the soup to a boil and add the cooked sausage back to the pot. Then reduce the heat, and let simmer for one hour.
5. This next step is optional. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup about 10-20 seconds. You don’t want the soup to be totally smooth. The texture should still be very chunky, but pureeing a small portion of the soup gives it some added texture.
6. Taste for salt and pepper and add as necessary. Remove the bay leaves and parmesan cheese rind. Serve the soup in bowls with minced fresh parsley and parmesan cheese.