I’m tempted to preface the title here with “The Case of” because finding this recipe felt a bit like detective work – I dug through binders of recipe magazines, sorted through boxes and folders and found a clue in a spreadsheet that lead me right back to the first binder and the most beat up magazine, one I’d skipped past because of it’s missing index. Bad Librarian.
As I searched for the recipe, I reminisced about the story of the original cook, a fireman who liked to keep a pot of spicy sausage-flavored lentil stew going in the fall, rich with tomatoes and other veggies. But it turns out there is no fireman. There never was. And it doesn’t even call for spicy sausage.
My delusional origin story is not new. I titled the recipe “Firehouse Sausage Lentil Soup” when I added it to a hand-typed spreadsheet about fifteen years ago.
My brothers asked for an easier way to find family favorite recipes and I sat down with piles of recipe boxes, magazines, cookbooks and loose sheets to organize them electronically, with proper citations.
And there is a proper citation: it told me which issue, which page to go to. But there’s no firemen in sight. Or spicy sausage, though I’m putting that in now. And extra tomatoes with chilies.
Also, my photos show a triple batch. I didn’t predict how much space it would take as I kept adding more veggies, so you may notice there are a series of different pans in the photos below… The prep time will be a lot faster if you don’t triple it or use a food processor to chop the veggies, but it’s pretty easy to work on chopping while the other steps cook, especially if you have someone to help stir the pot of soup.
Spicy Firehouse Lentil Stew
A hearty, flavorful soup redolent of mythical first responders
- 1/2 lb. bulk hot Italian sausage
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 medium green pepper, chopped
- 1 large carrot, chopped
- 1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes (I used fire-roasted for extra flavor)
- 1 can (10 oz. ) diced tomatoes with green chilies
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon pepper
- 1 cup water
- 3 cups chicken broth
- 3/4 cup dry lentils, rinsed
- In a dutch oven or large, heavy soup pan, brown and crumble sausage over medium heat. Turn the heat down if it starts to brown and stick to the pan.
- Add chopped onions and stir until they begin to soften.
- Add remaining veggies, canned tomatoes (undrained), spices and liquids and bring to a boil. Stir in lentils.
- Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 60-70 min. or until the lentils are tender.