Italian Lentil and Sausage Soup

2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
6 ounces ground sausage
1 large sweet onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 garlic clove, minced
1 large tomato, diced
2 stalks and leafs of celery, diced
Salt and pepper to taste
½ tsp. red pepper flakes
2 cups dried lentils (washed)
8-10 cups chicken or vegetable broth
2-3 sprigs fresh parsley, roughly chopped for topping

1.      In large heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium heat.  Add the sausages and sauté for 5-6 minutes, until barely browned. 

2.      Add the onions with the browned sausage and cook for about 5-6 minutes until the onion is soft.  

3.      Add the carrots, garlic, tomato, celery, salt and pepper, and red pepper flakes. Sauté for 2-3 minutes. 

4.      Add the lentils and stir with the sausage and vegetables for about a minute.  Next, add the broth to the saucepan until it begins to boil (begin with 8 cups and add more if the soup is too thick).  Reduce the heat, partially cover the saucepan and simmer for 40-60 minutes until the lentils are tender.  Stir occasionally.  

5.      Before removing the soup from the stove check for seasoning and doneness.  If the soup is too thick be sure to add more hot water or broth during the cooking process. Top with fresh chopped parsley and serve warm. 

A good friend of mine told me how she loved the lentil and sausage soup her mother made for her growing up in Germany. She is not a cook and Germany is too far, so I decided the next day to make it for her.  I brought a large bowl of soup at her Home Decor store.  She was so surprised and loved it so much, she did not share it with her couple of employees.  I made this soup the way my Italian mother and grandmother made it. It was a pleasure knowing that a simple dish like this, could have brought a little pleasure to my dear German friend.

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