Wed 18 Nov 2009
I’ve been putting off this post for a few weeks because I am desperately trying to remember the salient details of a story about lentil and sausage soup. It was at least 20 years ago. I can remember being doubled over laughing in the soup aisle of a grocery store, shrieking and crying over the hilarity of Progresso’s Lentil and Sausage Soup. If you just stopped to reread that sentence in order to pick up whatever word you missed that would clue you in to what might possibly be so uproariously funny about lentil and sausage soup, do not panic.
That’s the detail I can’t remember. I’ve been kicking that story stub around my poor little brain for several days to no avail, and I just can’t hold out on the recipe any longer. It doesn’t help that I’ve had a song stuck in my head for days. A horrible song. It is nearly impossible to remember funny stories from your childhood when the one-hit-wonder LEN is screaming WOULD YOU STEAL MY SUNSHINE?!! during every quiet moment, to say nothing of the difficulties it presents at work. I’m not going to say that those words made it into a motion last week, just that having professional proofreaders on staff is a really beautiful thing.
The upshot of the story is this: we tried the soup, it was amazing, I fell in love with the combination of lentils and sausage, and Progresso can enjoy an everlasting bout of shingles for discontinuing it.
Since the soup is no longer available, we have to make do on our own. But freed from the confines of the can, lentils and sausage show themselves to be equally charming without the accompaniment of broth, their trusty backup dancer. We had so much fun with butternut squash earlier this month that I thought I’d feature acorn squash, another one of my favorites. Petite and perfect, they bake handsomely when paired with a little butter and maple syrup. I find combining them with lentils and sausage to be particularly satisfying. The lentils and squash are both earthy and smooth, but in slightly different ways; their textures complement each other while their flavors layer gently. Hot Italian sausage, when paired with the sweetness of the maple syrup, is vibrant but softly restrained. The result is a happy little barbershop quartet of flavors, portioned perfectly in its own ready-made bowl.
You will notice that you end up with a lot of extra lentils. It’s sort of intentional. In order to avoid leaving you high and dry without sufficient lentil coverage for any particularly robust acorn squash you may encounter, I’ve asked you to make more than you need. Still, since it’s frustrating to end up with an extra third of a serving of something, I’ve given you a basic proportion for about three cups of cooked lentils. This way, you have plenty to eat as leftovers by themselves, in a salad, in soup, whathaveyou. If having extra lentils really puts a knot in your knickers, reduce as your heart desires.
(Keep reading Acorn Squash with Lentils and Sausage…)