My obsession with everything Hungarian has everything to do with this book ...
At this point, I have lost count of how many times that I've read this book. I have given away copies of this book (sending one to Russia, I might add) and if ANYONE asks me for a book recommendation, 9 times out of ten I will recommend this book. It is the literary equivalent of mashed potatoes in my mind - totally satisfying and comforting ... even if the subject matter is Dracula.
So when I was trolling Food Network's site the other night, I stumbled across this Rachael Ray recipe and although it seems like the only thing Hungarian about this is the paprika that I used to season it, this is a very decent dish.
A couple of headnotes ... I ended up tweaking this recipe because when I originally made it, it seemed like a grocery store exploded into my mouth. Italian Sausage! Lentils! Portabella mushrooms! Potatoes! Too many really good things were crowded into one meager bowl and this soup seemed like it would work better if flavors weren't crowding to get my attention. So I swaped the 'bella mushrooms for white button mushrooms (portabellas are meaty ... they are used in vegetarian burgers, for Pete's sake! It was stealing the spotlight from the Italian sausage ... ). I was happy with this substitution, since it also makes this dish easier on my pocket book. I omitted the potato all together ... this dish has enough starchiness in it with the lentils.
Hungarian Hot Sausage and Lentil Soup
original recipe by Rachael Ray
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 12 oz. bulk hot Italian sausage (**can substitute mild)
* 3 cloves garlic, chopped
* 1 medium onion, chopped
* 8 oz. white button mushrooms, chopped
* 3 carrots, chopped
* 1 cup lentils
* Salt and pepper
* 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
* 2 teaspoons smoked paprika (or substitute a mix of 2 teaspoons cumin, 1 teaspoon sweet paprika and 2 pinches cayenne pepper ... I actually use Hungarian hot paprika ... love it!)
* 3 sprigs fresh rosemary, intact on stems
* 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
* 6 cups vegetable stock
* 4 cups baby spinach
Heat a medium soup pot over medium high heat. Add extra-virgin olive oil, then add sausage to pot and brown and crumble it, then add garlic, onions and mushrooms. Cook a few minutes, then add carrots, lentils, , salt and pepper, bay leaf, paprika or substitute mixture and rosemary (leaves will fall from stems as soup cooks). Add tomatoes and broth and cover pot then raise heat to high and bring to a boil. Uncover pot and place heat back a bit but keep soup at a good rolling boil. Cook 15 minutes until lentils and carrots are tender. Wilt in greens in small bunches, remove rosemary stems and turn off heat. Let stand 5 minutes.