In college I dabbled in vegetarianism. It was more of a recreational thing, but as I got more serious about becoming a professional eater, I decided to give up the non-meat eating life. However my 1 year status as a vegetarian greatly contributed to my eating and cooking experience. At the time I was training for the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon. Desperate to find more vegetarian protein sources, I discovered a lot of new ingredients, such as lentils. Lentils not only provided generous amounts of protein but a lot of iron too, a nutrient most female vegetarians could always use more of.
While I’m no longer a vegetarian, I did marry one. Unlike me, my husband has been a committed vegetarian for well over 5 years now. Also unlike me who ran one marathon and decided distance running wasn’t my bag, he became a committed endurance athlete, training not only for marathons but several Ironmans, all while being a vegetarian.
Lentils therefore remain a staple in our meal rotation, and since it’s an ingredient that’s just as easy to make a small batch or a large batch, it more often appears by the potful of soup in my kitchen. However, I realize that 5 days of lentil soup may not be anybody’s bag. Luckily lentil soup repurposes pretty easily, and one of my favorite ways to use up the leftovers is stuffing them into peppers, covering with cheese and panko, and baking them till bubbly and golden in the oven. Serve to amateur eaters, professional eaters, vegetarians, carnivores, couch potatoes, and endurance athletes.
- Green / French lentils, dry – 2 cups
- Garlic – 2 cloves
- White / yellow onion* – 1
- Carrots* – 1 lb.
- Celery* – 2 stalks
- Vegetable oil – 1 tbs.
- Bay leaves – 2
- Sage – 6 leaves
- Pre-cooked sausage of your choice – 1 lb.
- *Can buy pre-diced / chopped
- Red peppers, large – 2 to 3
- Cheddar / swiss – 2 to 4 oz.
- Leftover lentil / sausage soup – 4 to 6 cups
- Panko – ¼ cup
- Lentils – Rinse lentils and pre-soak lentils the night before. This easy step dramatically decreases cooking time. Lentils do absorb a lot of water, so I recommend using a 3:1 water to dried lentil ratio
- Garlic – Mince
- Onion, Carrots, Celery – Dice
- Heat a >5 quart soup pot or Dutch oven over med-high heat. Add vegetable oil
- Add minced garlic to warmed oil. Once you can smell the garlic fragrance, add onions, carrots, and celery with 1 tsp. kosher salt
- Sauté onions, carrots, and celery for 5 minutes
- Add drained lentils, 1 tsp. of kosher salt, 6 cups of water, bay leaves, sage, and bring to a boil covered
- When soup boils, remove the lid. Lower heat but keep the soup at a simmer
- Chop pre-cooked sausage and toss it into the soup. Simmer until the lentils are cooked through. Season to taste with S&P
- There are so many great vegetarian / vegan sausage options these days. My favorite vegan sausage right now is Trader Joe’s Italian Sausageless Sausage
- Carnivores with some more time can add more flavor by using ground sausage instead of pre-cooked. Cook ground sausage first, remove from pot, and use that fat to cook vegetables. Add the cooked sausage back into the soup at the end of cooking
- Soups are a great medium for experimenting with your spice drawer (remember that drawer?). Cumin, fennel seeds, paprika, coriander all would add different flavor dimensions
- Red peppers – Rinse, core, and slice in half lengthwise
- Cheese – Grate
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees
- Place red pepers onto baking sheet and sprinkle with some salt
- Spoon drained soup fixings into the red peppers. Top with grated cheese and panko
- Roast in oven for 15 minutes
- To get a nice golden brown on your stuffed peppers, broil for the last 2 minutes so that the cheese bubbles and gets golden
- Don’t be constrained to just red peppers. Other great options for stuffing are tomatoes, delicata squash, and of course any other large pepper
- Change the flavor profile of your leftover soup by mixing with pesto, tapenade, some tomato paste, or harissa and then stuff into peppers
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