1/2 cup olive oil, divided
4 large links of sweet Italian sausage, divided and casings removed
1 medium onion, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
4+ medium carrots, peeled and sliced into half-moons or diced
4 cloves garlic, sliced (reserve half for later in recipe)
A pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup brown or green lentils, sorted and rinsed
2 bay leaves
32 ounces peeled tomatoes (I used home-canned but you can use canned)
6 cups water
Freshly ground black pepper
4 - 5 cups shredded or thinly sliced chard leaves and/or kale (I also threw in some spinach)
Parmesan or Romano rind
Grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan 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 half of the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon until it starts to brown, about five minutes.
- Add the onion, celery, carrots, first two garlic cloves, a pinch of salt, and 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, cheese rind, more salt and black pepper to taste. Bring to a simmer and allow to cook, uncovered, until the lentils are tender, about 40 minutes. (It might be necessary to add more water if the soup gets too thick, though we like ours on the thick side.)
- When the lentils are cooked, add the greens and cook until the leaves are tender, just a few minutes more. Discard the bay leaves.
- While the soup is cooking, cook the second half of the sausage until brown and delicious.
- To finish, add the remaining 1/4 cup olive oil and 2 garlic cloves to a small skillet and heat over medium until the garlic softens and hisses. Ladle the soup into bowls and drizzle with the hot olive oil and top with sausage and grated cheese.