Monday, February 8, 2016

Smoked Bratwurst Lentil Soup

     Lentil Soup With A Rustic Smokey Flavor!
     Most traditional bean soups are flavored with ham, but nearly any kind of pork product can be added to a bean soup to increase flavor.  Pork sausage is a good choice, especially if it has a spicy or smokey flavor.  
    Many cultures make smoked or aged dry cure sausages that are primarily only used to flavor recipes.  Calabrese Sausage, Chorizo and Andouille are good examples of sausages that are rarely featured on their own.  These sausages are most often used to flavor sauces, stews or soups.
     Fresh Bratwurst tastes fairly mild and it is usually served on its own or with strong tasting accompaniments, like sauerkraut or spicy mustard.  Smoked Bratwurst is just the opposite.  Smoked Bratwurst tastes strong and it can impart flavor to whatever it is added to.  The rich smokey flavor is perfect for a bean soup.
      When using something like Smoked Bratwurst to flavor a recipe, it is best to keep in mind that a little bit goes a long way.  If too much Smoked Bratwurst is added to a soup, then the only thing that the guests will taste is the strong smokey flavor.  It only takes a few pieces of Smoked Bratwurst to add just the right amount of rustic smokey essence to a lentil bean soup.
     Smoked Bratwurst Lentil Soup:
     This recipe yields about 4 cups.  (Enough for 2 bowls of soup!)
     Step 1:  Cut 6 ounces of smoked bratwurst sausage in half lengthwise.
     Cut the smoked bratwurst halves into bite size pieces.
     Step 2:  Heat a large sauce pot over medium/medium low heat.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of unsalted butter.
     Add 1/2 tablespoon of vegetable oil.  
     Add the smoked bratwurst pieces.
     Sauté till the smoked bratwurst is aromatic and a few light brown highlights appear.
     Step 3:  Add 2 tablespoons each of these small chopped vegetables:
     - carrot
     - celery
     - onion
     Add 1 tablespoon of minced green onion.
     Gently sauté till the vegetables start to become tender.
     Step 4:  Add 2 cups of beef stock.
     Add 2 cups of pork broth.
     Step 5:  Raise the temperature to medium high heat.
     Bring the liquid to a boil.
     Step 4:  Add 1 1/3 cups of rinsed brown lentils.
     Return the soup to a gentle boil.
     Step 5:  Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Add 1 bay leaf.
     Add 1 pinch of thyme.
     Add 1 pinch of marjoram.
     Add 1 pinch of oregano.
     Add 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
     Add 1 pinch of Hungarian Paprika.
     Add sea salt and black pepper to taste.
     Step 6:  Cover the sauce pot with a lid.
     Gently simmer the soup till the lentils are very tender.  Stir the soup occasionally.
     Step 7:  Use a perforated spoon or small strainer to transfer about 1/3 of the of the lentil beans from the pot to a mixing bowl.
     Use a potato masher or a fork to mash the lentils.
     Return the mashed lentils to the pot.
     Step 8:  Keep the lid off of the pot.
     Gently simmer till the soup reheats and thickens.  Stir occasionally.
     *Check the consistency.  The soup should be just thin enough to pour off of a spoon.  (Add a splash of water if the soup is too thick.  If the soup is too thin, continue simmering till the volume reduces.)
     Step 9:  Keep the soup warm over very low heat.
     Remove the bay leaf before serving.
     This is a nice hearty lentil bean soup!

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