Lentils are a powerhouse of protein; these tiny dried disk shaped legumes have been used for centuries throughout the Mediterranean, and are at the heart of many Italian dishes, especially salads, soups, and casseroles. There are many varieties ranging in color from brown  black, green, reddish-brown, and yellow. It is not necessary to soak lentils before cooking but they should be washed and sorted to make sure there are no bits of stone or other debris. This simple lentil soup is combined with ditalini, a small tubular pasta and Italian sausage.

Zuppa di Lenticchie, Ditalini, e Salssica

Lentil, Ditalini, and Sausage Soup

Serves 8

3 sweet pork sausage links, casing removed and meat crumbled

6 cups chicken broth

1 cup dried lentils, washed 

1/2 cup ditalini

2 cups diced tomatoes

Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sausage in a non -stick skillet over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Set aside

Pour the chicken broth into a soup pot, add the lentils and bring to a boil; cook for 30 to 35 minutes; do not overcook them or they will turn to mush. They should still have a bit of a firm core at this point. Stir in the ditalini, and 1 teaspoon of salt; continue cooking until the pasta is almost al dente, about 5 minutes depending on brand. Stir in sausage and tomatoes. Cover and simmer the soup for 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. 

Cook’s Secret: One cup of dried lentils yields 3 to 4 cups cooked