Recipe for white lentil and kale soup with (or without) spicy sausage
White lentils (urad dal) aren't something you'll find in every neighborhood grocery store, so I hope your travels take you to a gourmet shop or Indian market. White lentils are black lentils with the outer skins split and removed. The creamy ivory-colored lentils require no presoaking; they cook quickly and take on the flavors around them. In this soup, you can use chicken stock for the base and smoked sausage (hot links or chorizo) for the kick; or, make it vegetarian by using water for the base, and smoky barbecue sauce plus some Turkish urfa biber pepper to simulate the contribution of the sausage. The assertive kale snuggles right up to the mild lentils, making for a whole lot of nutrition in every beautiful bowl. If you can't buy white lentils in your market, you can order online, or substitute delicate red lentils (masoor dal), which are less expensive and easier to find.
White lentil and kale soup with (or without) spicy sausage
Serves 8; can be halved.
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb white lentils
8 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium store-bought) or water
2 Tbsp hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp urfa biber pepper
3 beef hot links or spicy turkey sausage, diced (optional)
1 bunch of kale leaves stripped from the stems, washed and chopped
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste
In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and onion, and cook until the onion is translucent, 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, chicken stock, 2 cups water (for a total of 10 cups of liquid), and barbecue sauce. Raise heat to high and bring the soup to a boil; then, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the urfa pepper and sausage, and simmer for an additional 25 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until the lentils are almost soft. If the soup seems too thick, add water, one-half cup at a time.
Stir in the chopped kale leaves, and season with salt and plenty of black pepper, to taste. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, over low heat, until the kale is cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Taste again, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve hot.