Slow Cooker Lentil Soup with Italian Sausage & Greens

I actually have a third tasty soup to share. This one is reminiscent of one of our family favorites, Lentil-Kielbasa Soup. Don’t worry- it’s not so similar that it will prevent me from making my tried and true lentil-sausage soup as well this season. 🙂

This recipe was adapted from The New York Times, contributed by Sarah Digregorio. I used French green lentils instead of black lentils, modified the proportions and incorporated a mixture of CSA greens including beet greens, broccoli greens and escarole. I also garnished the soup with my CSA parsley instead of basil.

This soup could easily be made on the stove top instead of in a slow cooker. I loved that it gobbled up my CSA greens too.

Yield: 6 servings

  • 1 pound hot or sweet Italian pork sausage, loose or removed from its casing
  • olive oil, if necessary
  • 1 large red or yellow onion, chopped
  • Kosher salt
  • 10 large garlic cloves, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3 thyme sprigs
  • 2 oregano sprigs, leaves only, or 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • generous pinch of red-pepper flakes
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 cups dried lentils, preferably black beluga (I used French green lentils)
  • 1 (14-ounce) can whole or chopped tomatoes
  • 8 cups chicken stock
  • 5 ounces greens, such as baby spinach or kale, or 1 medium bunch greens, such as chard or kale, stemmed and chopped (I used a mixture of beet & broccoli greens with escarole)
  • 1 T red-wine vinegar
  • chopped fresh parsley or basil, for garnish
  • grated Parmigiano Reggiano, for garnish
  1.  In a large, dry skillet over medium-high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a spatula, until it is in small, coarse pieces, and starts to brown and sizzle in its own fat, about 8 minutes.
  2. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked sausage to a 5- to 8-quart slow cooker. There should be a thin layer of fat covering the bottom of the skillet. If there is much more than that, pour a bit of the fat off. If there is not enough fat to cover the bottom of the pan, add a drizzle of olive oil.
  3. Add the onion to the skillet, season generously with salt, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and translucent, about 5 minutes.
  4. Reduce heat to medium-low, add garlic and cook until softened and fragrant, about 2 minutes.
  5. Add the onion and garlic powders, the herbs, red pepper flakes and several generous grinds of black pepper. Stir to combine.
  6. Increase heat to medium-high, pour in the wine and stir well, scraping the bottom of the pot. Let the wine bubble until the pan is almost dry, about 3 minutes.
  7. Scrape the skillet mixture into the slow cooker with the sausage.
  8. Add the bay leaf and the lentils.
  9. Add the tomatoes with their juice. If using whole, crush the tomatoes into pieces using your hands as you add them with their juice.
  10. Pour in the chicken stock.
  11. Season generously with pepper and add 1/2 teaspoon salt if you are using low-sodium stock or 1 teaspoon salt if using homemade unsalted stock. Do not add salt now if you are using fully salted stock.
  12. Stir well to combine all ingredients. Cover and cook on low until the lentils are tender, about 6 to 8 hours. (Taste the lentils to make sure they are firm but creamy on the inside; black lentils can vary in their cooking time depending on their age and the heat of your slow cooker.) The soup holds well on warm for 2 additional hours.
  13. Switch the heat to high. Remove and discard the thyme sprigs. Stir in the greens and cook until wilted and tender, about 2 minutes for baby spinach, 10 minutes for kale.
  14. Stir in the vinegar.
  15. Serve in bowls, topped with chopped parsley and/or basil and grated Parmesan.

Greens with Tomatoes, Creamed Mozzarella & Wild Rice

While my kids were away at sleep away camp over the summer (for one week), my sweet husband encouraged me to make dishes that were loaded with my favorite greens, etc. (dishes that may not have thrilled my kids!) Don’t worry, we also went out to eat. 🙂

I had wanted to make this dish after reading about how the recipe creates a faux burrata- genius! This recipe was adapted from Epicurious.com, contributed by Abra Berens. I substituted my beautiful CSA chard for the kale. This dish would also be delicious using true burrata, of course. 😉 I used pre-sliced fresh mozzarella but would use torn pieces from a ball of fresh mozzarella next time. It would have improved the burrata hack. Any cooked grain could be substituted for the wild rice as well.

We ate this dish as a main course, but it would also be a nice side dish or salad course.

Yield: Serves 2 to 4 as a main course

  • 1 small yellow onion or 1/2 large yellow onion, cut into thin slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, sliced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup white wine or rosé
  • 1 cup wild rice, soaked overnight in 4 cups water (can substitute farro, quinoa, brown rice, etc.)
  • 1 bunch (4 cups) red or rainbow chard or kale, midribs stripped, cut into 1/4-inch ribbons
  • 1 ball (8 oz, 1/2 pound) fresh mozzarella
  • 4 T sour cream (or yogurt or creme fraiche)
  • 1 lemon, zest and juice
  • 1 pint (2 cups) grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  1. Soak the wild rice overnight in 4 cups of water. (The soaking liquid is used to cook the rice.)
  2. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large sauté pan. Sweat the onion and garlic with the salt until translucent, about 5 minutes.
  3. Add the white wine and reduce by half.
  4. Add the wild rice and the soaking liquid and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook until tender, about 45 minutes.
  5. In a mixing bowl, sprinkle the chard/kale with a pinch of salt. Massage until the greens are dark green, limp, and tender in mouthfeel.
  6. Tear the mozzarella into rough chunks.
  7. Combine with the sour cream, lemon zest and juice, a good pinch of salt, and a couple of grinds of black pepper.
  8. When the wild rice is cooked, drain any residual liquid and let cool.
  9. Toss the tomatoes, kale, and wild rice together with a couple glugs of olive oil and a pinch of salt.
  10. Taste and adjust the seasoning.
  11. Dot with the creamed mozzarella and serve.
Note: The amount of time it takes to tenderize raw greens will vary depending on the age of the plant. The tougher the leaves, the longer it will take. Along the way, taste an individual leaf—once it is easily chewable, you’re done.

Greek Shrimp, Farro & Greens with Feta

One-Pan Bucatini with Peas, Baby Greens & Pancetta

The first time I made a one-pan pasta dish, I was skeptical about the results. Now I know that this technique is absolute genius. Cooking the pasta in the pan results in fabulously creamy sauce. The bonus is the ease of producing a great dish with minimal cleanup.

This recipe was adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s book, Cook It in Your Dutch Oven, via Cups and Spoonfuls.com. I literally started making the dish within an hour of reading the post. 🙂 It’s a perfect quick dinner made with pantry items- all in a single pot. Great!

Yield: Serves 4 to 6

  • ½ cup panko bread crumbs
  • 1 ½ ounce of Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, about ¾ cup, divided
  • extra virgin olive oil, for toasting the bread crumbs
  • freshly grated zest from one lemon, divided
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 slices of thick-cut bacon or 2 ounces of pancetta, cut into 1/4 inch pieces
  • 4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 2 ½ cups water, more as needed
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 12 oz (3/4 pound) bucatini
  • 5 ounces of mixed baby greens (baby chard, kale, & spinach), about 5 cups
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  1. Toast breadcrumbs in a small skillet with a bit of olive oil until golden brown.
  2. Next, mix together toasted breadcrumbs, ¼ cup of Parmesan, 1/2 of the lemon zest, ¼ teaspoon of coarse salt, and ¼ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper in a small bowl.  Set aside.
  3. Cook bacon or pancetta in your Dutch oven over medium heat until crisp, about 4 to 6 minutes.  Using a slotted spoon, remove and place on a plate lined with a paper towel.  Set aside until ready to serve pasta.
  4. Add garlic and remaining lemon zest to Dutch oven and cook until fragrant, about 30 seconds or so.
  5. Add wine, scraping any browned bits and cook until the wine is almost evaporated, about 4-5 minutes.
  6. Add water and stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Stir in pasta and return to a strong simmer.  Cook pasta, stirring often until the pasta is tender, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  8. Add greens and peas.  Stir and continue to cook until the vegetables are tender, about 4 minutes.
  9. Add remaining Parmesan and stir until pasta is creamy and completely coated about 30 seconds.
  10. Add extra hot water if pasta seems too dry.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  11. Serve and sprinkle each serving with crispy pancetta and lemon panko breadcrumbs.

Tomato-Braised Rotisserie Chicken with Kale

I love using a rotisserie chicken short cut to make a delicious weeknight meal. This sauce in this wonderful dish reminds me of another one of my favorite weeknight dishes using gnocchi.

It was recommended to eat this meal with crusty bread to sop up the sauce (yum!) so I made Portuguese rolls– a great choice. 🙂 I also served it with roasted potatoes which was completely unnecessary, but pleased my husband.

This recipe was from From COOK90: The 30-Day Plan For Faster, Healthier, Happier Meals By David Tamarkin, via Bon Appétit. Fabulous!

  • 4 oz bacon (about 4 slices), sliced crosswise ¼” thick
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • ⅓ cup dry white wine (I used Pinot Grigio)
  • 4 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 2 tsp finely chopped rosemary
  • 1 14.5-oz. can diced tomatoes
  • 1 cup chicken stock, plus more, as desired to adjust sauce consistency
  • ½ tsp Kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 rotisserie chicken, cut into 8 pieces (breast meat halved)
  • 1 bunch curly kale, ribs and stems removed, leaves torn into bite-size pieces (I used a 10 oz bag of kale)
  • crusty bread, for serving, optional
  1. Heat oil in a large Dutch oven or skillet with a lid over medium. (I used a large enameled cast iron pan.) Cook bacon, stirring occasionally, until starting to brown, about 5 minutes. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened and bacon is brown and crisp, 8–10 minutes.
  2. Add wine, garlic, and rosemary to pot. Cook, stirring, until wine is reduced by half, about 1 minute.
  3. Add tomatoes along with their juices, broth, salt, and red pepper flakes and bring liquid to a boil.
  4. Nestle in chicken, skin side up. Top with kale, cover pot, and cook until kale is wilted, 5–7 minutes. (I added the kale in 2 batches, adding the second layer after 5 minutes.)
  5. Stir kale into sauce and continue to cook, uncovered, until chicken is warmed through, about 5 minutes more.

Kabocha Squash, Sausage, & Cornbread Gratin

I am in love with kabocha squash- it is just so creamy and sweet. This dish may be the ultimate autumn casserole. It was a little bit involved to prepare but the results were worth every minute.

This recipe was adapted from Bon Appetit, contributed by Claire Saffitz. I slightly modified the proportions and method. Fabulous!

4 to 6 servings
  • 1 small to medium kabocha squash
  • 7 large garlic cloves
  • 3 6-inch-long rosemary sprigs
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • Kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 bunch Tuscan kale (I used a 10 oz bag), ribs removed and torn into 1-2″ pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 2 medium shallots
  • 1 pound fresh pork sausage, such as sweet Italian (about 4 links)
  • 2 cups crumbled cornbread, from a 6×4 inch piece
  • 2 T unsalted butter
  • 1 T olive oil
  1. Bake cornbread. (I used Trader Joe’s Cornbread Mix.) Set aside to cool.
  2. Position a rack in center of oven; preheat to 400°, preferably on convection.
  3. Cut off stem end of kabocha squash and rest on cut side. Cut squash in half. Scoop out seeds and stringy innards with a spoon; discard. Cut squash into 1″-thick slices. Using your knife, slice off the tough peel and layer of light green flesh beneath.
  4. Smash the garlic cloves with the side of the knife and remove peel.
  5. Combine squash, garlic, rosemary sprigs, heavy cream, and ¼ cup water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and pepper and bring to a gentle simmer over medium heat. Cover pot and reduce heat to low. Simmer until squash is tender and easily mashes when pressed with the back of a spoon, 20-25 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, grasp stem end of each kale leaf. Starting at stem, slide your other hand along length of leaf to strip leaves. Repeat with entire bunch; discard stems. Tear leaves into 1″–2″ pieces (you should have about 8 cups).
  7. Peel 2 shallots and thinly slice crosswise.
  8. Use the tip of your knife to prick the sausages all over in several places.
  9. Crumble cornbread into coarse crumbs (you should have about 2 cups).
  10. When squash is tender, remove saucepan from heat. Uncover and pluck out rosemary sprigs, leaving leaves inside pot. Transfer entire mixture to a medium bowl (reserve saucepan) and mash with the back of a spoon or a potato masher until no distinct pieces of squash remain. Season with salt and pepper.
  11. Wipe out pot with paper towels and heat over medium. Add butter and heat until melted. Add shallots and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, about 4 minutes.
  12. Add kale to the pot, a couple of handfuls at a time, stirring to wilt between each batch, and cook until leaves are dark green and wilted, about 3 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  13. Transfer to kale to the bowl with squash, then fold to incorporate.
  14. Heat the olive oil in the same saucepan over medium and add sausage. Cook, turning once, until browned on both sides (they won’t be cooked through), about 6 minutes. Transfer to cutting board and let cool for a few minutes (reserve saucepan again and do not pour out fat from sausages–you’re going to use it one more time).
  15. Meanwhile, using a rubber spatula, scrape squash and kale mixture into a shallow 2-qt. baking dish and smooth top. (I coated the baking dish with cooking oil spray.)
  16. Cut sausages crosswise into 2″ pieces and nestle into top of squash mixture, spacing evenly.
  17. Heat the drippings remaining in the saucepan over medium and add cornbread crumbs. Cook, stirring, just until crumbs are evenly coated in fat. Scatter cornbread crumbs over squash mixture; season with more salt and pepper.
  18. Bake gratin until crumbs are toasty and brown and sausages are cooked through (you can insert an instant-read thermometer into center of sausage to check if registers 140°, or just cut into one with a knife), about 15 minutes.
  19. Let cool 5–10 minutes before serving.

Tomato-Braised Gigante Bean Gratin (Pizza Beans)

This dish could or should be a guaranteed crowd-pleaser. Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen called the dish “pizza beans” to make it more appealing to her kids- so I did the same. 😉 She also had the genius suggestion of serving it with garlic bread, giving it even more appeal. Perelman described it as “a mash-up of a giant-beans-in-tomato-sauce dish from Greece and American-style baked ziti, with beans instead of noodles.” Heaven!

My husband and I enjoyed this dish very much. We are already big fans of Greek Gigante beans, by the way. 🙂 With the name “pizza beans,” my kids were expecting pizza, but the flavors in the dish were more like minestrone soup. It may have been more well-received if I had simply called it by the original title, Tomato & Gigante Bean Bake. 😉

This dish would also be wonderful as a cold-weather comfort food casserole. The recipe was adapted from Smitten Kitchen Every Day: Triumphant & Unfussy New Favorites by Deb Perelman, via smitten kitchen.com. I used a pressure cooker to cook the dried beans, incorporated the pressure cooker bean liquid as well as beet greens, and increased the amount of garlic. I plan to make it again in the winter and give it a different title. I’m sure it will be more well-received. It will be served with garlic bread, of course.

  • 2 tablespoons (30 ml) olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large or 2 regular carrots, diced
  • coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper or red pepper flakes
  • 4 large garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 cup (60 ml) dry white or red wine, optional
  • 4 ounces (115 grams) curly kale leaves, beet greens, and/or mixed baby greens, coarsely chopped
  • 2 1/4 cups (550 grams) crushed tomatoes (28-ounce or 800-gram can minus 1 cup; reserve the rest for another use)
  • 1 pound (455 grams) giant white beans such as Italian fagioli corona, Greek gigante/gigandes, Royal Corona, or large lima beans
  • 3/4 cup (175 ml) vegetable broth or pressure cooker bean liquid, as needed
  • 1/2 pound (225 grams) mozzarella, coarsely grated
  • 1/3 cup (35 grams) grated Parmesan
  • 2 tablespoons (5 grams) roughly chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, for garnish, optional
  • garlic bread, for serving, optional
  1. To use a Pressure Cooker to “Soak” the Beans: Place 12 cups of water, 3 tsp of coarse salt and the dried beans in a pressure cooker. Raise to high pressure (2nd ring) for 2 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans.
  2. Cook the Beans in a Pressure Cooker: Place the drained beans with 9 cups of fresh water in the pressure cooker. Drizzle with vegetable oil. Cook on low (1st ring) for 3 minutes. Release pressure using the natural (water) method. Drain the beans reserving the bean liquid.
  3. Heat the oven to 475 degrees, preferably on convection.
  4. In a 2 1/2-to-3-quart (ideally oven-safe) deep sauté pan, braiser, or shallow Dutch oven, heat the olive oil on medium-high. Add the onion, celery, and carrots. Season well with salt and black or red pepper. Cook, sautéing, until the vegetables brown lightly, about 10 minutes.
  5. Add the garlic, and cook for 1 minute more.
  6. Add the wine, if using, to scrape up any stuck bits, then simmer until it disappears, 1 to 2 minutes.
  7. Add the kale/greens, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until collapsed, then add the tomatoes and bring to a simmer.
  8. Add the beans, and, if the mixture looks too dry or thick (canned tomatoes range quite a bit in juiciness), add up to 3/4 cup broth/bean liquid, 1/4 cup at a time.
  9. Simmer the mixture together over medium for about 10 minutes, adjusting the seasonings as needed.
  10. If your pan isn’t ovenproof, transfer the mixture to a 3-quart baking dish.
  11. Sprinkle the beans first with the mozzarella, then the Parmesan, and bake for 10 to 15 minutes, until browned on top. If you’re impatient and want a deeper color, you can run it under the broiler.
  12. Finish with parsley, if desired. Serve with garlic bread.

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