I'm headed to Italy in 4 days and you would think I wouldn't crave Italian food. The other day we had end of school parties, baseball (again) and I was delivering a meal to a friend. I wanted something quick and easy that I could fix in advance and come home to something that would end my day with a satisfying meal along with a shower to wipe the gripe away from my body. This stew did the trick. The wonderful thing about this stew is that not only does it have a lot of vegetables, but parsnips. My kids (and husband) still think they were potatoes. A great "sneak" effect for those of you who want to try something different. (They taste just like potatoes.) Enjoy and I look forward to sending wonderful Italian recipes upon my return!
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 pound fully cooked hot Italian sausage, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 large onion, chopped (about 3 cups)
2 large carrots, peeled, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 large parsnips, peeled, chopped (about 1 3/4 cups)
2 large celery stalks, chopped about 1 cup
21/2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning blend
1 pound brown lentils (about 2 1/3 cups)
3 quarts (or more) low-salt chicken broth
1 5-ounce package baby spinach leaves
Heat oil in large pot over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook until browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl. Add onion, carrots, parsnips, celery, and Italian seasoning blend to drippings in pot; cook until onion is translucent and vegetables begin to soften, stirring often, 7 to 8 minutes. Add lentils; stir to coat. Add 3 quarts broth. Bring to boil; reduce heat to medium and simmer until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally and adding more broth by 1/4 cupfuls if soup is too thick, 20 minutes.
Add sausage to soup and simmer until vegetables are tender and flavors blend, 10 to 12 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, about 3 minutes.