A few weeks ago I was saddened to hear about the passing of famed Babbo pastry chef Gina De Palma. I knew that she had been battling cancer, but it still came as a shock that she was really gone. When I first discovered her book Dolce Italiano some years back I was smitten and began working my way through her recipes.
Today I cooked a dish of Gina’s, but it’s a savory one. Gina shared this hearty soup for blogger Adam Robert’s book Secrets of Best Chefs. I don’t have this book, but feel I should add it to my collection as its premise reminds me of my new favorite Genius Recipes from Food 52.
I hear that it’s going to be a snowy weekend in the northeast. If you have these ingredients in your cupboard this might just be the heartwarming dish that you’ll need to soften the blow.
Lentil Soup with Sausage and Swiss Chard
1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, casings removed (I used 2)
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, sliced or diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
2 cloves garlic, sliced
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
1 cup brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
3 to 4 cups shredded or thinly ribboned Swiss chard leaves or kale
Grated Pecorino Romano cheese to finish
Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. When hot, add the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes. Add the onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and if you like your soup spicy, a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook with the sausage until the vegetables soften a bit, another 5 minutes. Add the lentils, bay leaves, tomatoes, water, more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick.)
When the lentils are cooked, add the chard and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.
To finish, divide soup among bowls, drizzle remaining olive oil over soup bowls, and top with fresh Romano, passing more at the table. Leftovers will keep for several days in the fridge.
Take a look back at some of my favorites from Dolce Italiano. I think I should get back in the kitchen and bake a little dessert.
And a few I didn’t blog about – Sicilian Pistachio Squares, Sbrisolona, Ricotta Pound Cake and what may be my favorite recipe – Italian Apple Crumb Tart.