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Spicy Lentil Soup with Vegan Italian Sausage


When Art and I first transitioned to a plant-based diet at the start of 2023, we did what a lot of "transitioners" do... We bought a bunch of frozen, processed plant-based foods only to realize a few weeks into our vegan journey that these items were not all that good. And certainly, they weren't going to sustain a healthy plant-based diet. Though they did serve a purpose at the time of our transition, we soon ditched most of those 'Impossible' and 'Beyond' foods for healthier, whole food options.


Now, that's not to say that we don't enjoy an occasional Impossible burger and fries, but we've treated those moments as once-a-month junk food nights, when we're too lazy or tired to cook. But there's one plant-based package that has stayed in our deep freezer for the last six months. Art bought it a long time ago, and in all honesty, the thought of cooking up this item for breakfast or any other meal made me gag! It was a package of plant-based sausages... Excuse me while I dry-heave...


As I mentioned in a recent podcast, I love making soups in the fall! So, with my plan for a veggie-lentil soup this past weekend, an opportunity arose... Why not cook those freezer-sequestered vegan sausages and add their Italian spicy bits to the soup? If it's terrible, I would blame Art. If it's good, I'll take credit for being a genius in the vegan kitchen!


I'll just stop right here by saying that the addition of this plant-based 'mystery-meat' to my soup ended up being nothing short of phenomenal! Serve up the soup with a few hunks of vegan-buttered sourdough, rosemary or sunflower-seed bread. And don't leave out the sausage... Mmm, seriously - chef's kiss! :)


Ingredients:

- 1 Tbsp Olive Oil

- Veggie Broth or Stock for sauteeing vegetables & sausages*

- 1 tsp nutritional yeast (to add when cooking sausages)

- 1 - 14 oz package of Beyond Sausage, Hot Italian Style**

- 1 1/2 cups carrots, diced

- 1 yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced

- 1 medium onion, diced (may use white, yellow or red - your preference)

- 2 Tbsp garlic cloves, minced

- 1 can diced tomatoes

- 1 Tbsp nutritional yeast (to add while cooking vegetables)

- 1 tsp garlic powder

- 1 tsp dried thyme

- 1 tsp dried basil

- 1/2 tsp dried oregano

- 1/2 tsp turmeric (or turmeric spice blend)

- 1/2 tsp cayenne (more or less, to taste)

- 2 larges pinches of salt

- ground pepper to taste

- 2 cups dried brown lentils, rinsed through strainer

- 8 cups water + 2 cups vegetable broth

- 2 cups packed chopped spinach (may use frozen, thawed)***

- 1 Tbsp lemon juice


Instructions:

  1. In a skillet, heat olive and add 1 tsp of nutritional yeast.

  2. Place 4 Beyond Sausages into skillet and brown all sides.

  3. Add 1/4 cup of vegetable broth to sausage skillet to continue cooking. Reduce to medium-low heat and turn sausages every 1 to 2 minutes. Add more broth as needed to prevent sticking. Cook sausages, turning often, for 10 - 15 minutes until cooked through.

  4. Remove sausages from skillet and set aside on a cutting surface to cool.

  5. In a large pot or Dutch oven, add 1/2 cup vegetable broth, and bring to a boil.

  6. Add carrots, yellow bell pepper, onion and garlic. Saute the vegetables in the broth over high heat, stirring often, for about 5 minutes. (Add a splash more veggie broth if necessary to keep veggies from sticking.)

  7. Add diced tomatoes, nutritional yeast, garlic powder, thyme, basil, oregano, turmeric, cayenne, salt and pepper. Stir with spatula to mix well.

  8. Stir in lentils first; then 8 cups of water and 2 cups of veggie broth. Stir to mix all ingredients, and bring to a boil.

  9. While the soup is cooking, cut the sausages into slices, and cut the slices into halves.

  10. When soup comes to a boil, reduce heat to a low boil, partially cover and cook for 25 minutes. Stir periodically to spread the seasonings throughout the soup. After cooking time, taste soup with a spoon to ensure lentils are done cooking.

  11. Continue cooking over low heat, and add the spinach, lemon juice and Italian Sausage pieces. Stir well, and cook for another 5 minutes. Do not overcook the spinach and sausage!

  12. Ladle soup into bowls, and serve with a vegan-buttered hunk of sourdough, rosemary or sunflower seed bread.

Enjoy!


Notes:

  1. In order to save on those saturated fat grams, you can saute anything with great success and added flavor by using simple vegetable broth.

  2. When buying a plant-based sausage, it's important in this recipe that it is the "Hot Italian" flavor. I used "Beyond Sausage Hot Italian" brand.

  3. I love using freshly chopped spinach in dishes, but to save time, feel free to use frozen chopped spinach. Just thaw it in a covered bowl in the microwave for a minute or two and add to the soup in the last few minutes of cooking.

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