Lentils are a type of legume, which are small seeds that grow inside pods. They are generally available dried or pre-soaked in cans. Lentils are similar to beans, but tend to cook faster and not require as much soaking time to soften. One use for lentils is for preparing sausage lentil soup, a dish made by softening lentils in broth, and combining it with chopped vegetables, cooked sausage, and other preferred seasonings. As some of the lentils break down and release their starches, they may thicken the broth base and add a creamy texture.
Some varieties of lentils tend to be more likely to break down than others, so when selecting ingredients for sausage lentil soup, the desired texture of the soup may determine what lentils are used. If a thicker soup is desired, red lentils and brown lentils may be recommended because they tend to disintegrate more than green French lentils, which may be preferable for those wanting a thinner soup with intact lentils. Recipes for the soup usually call for adding cooked sausage that is either cut into pieces for links or cooked and crumbled if using ground sausage. Other ingredients that may be added to the soup for additional flavor and texture include carrots, celery, and spinach.
The main base of sausage lentil soup is typically prepared by boiling the preferred type of lentils in chicken or vegetable broth until they soften. The additional flavoring ingredients, such as the sausage and any vegetables and desired seasonings, are usually recommended to be sautéed in oil until they are lightly browned in order to add a deeper flavor than simply boiling them in the soup. After the lentils and other ingredients are each prepared, they are then made into a soup by being combined in a large pot with the desired amount of broth to achieve the preferred consistency.
Sausage lentil soup is generally considered to become more flavorful the longer it is allowed to simmer. It is usually recommended to allow it to simmer for at least an hour. Since the ingredients are cooked before being added to the dish, the simmering time is not typically intended to cook the ingredients through but rather give the flavors sufficient time to meld together. The soup is often served as a first course, but some may consider it filling enough to serve as a main dish. It may be consumed as is, but is commonly garnished with grated Parmesan cheese for extra flavor.