Dinner:  June 5, 2008

Where did our June weather go? After a stretch of mostly sunny, beautiful and warm days, we woke to grey, gloomy and COLD. How am I supposed to play with light, bright springtime flavors when all I want to do is curl up under blankets with a mug of tea to get the chill out of my bones? I really must protest.

My crankiness about the weather aside, soup is often the first thing I think of making on damp, rainy days, and I suppose I could have gone with an elegant, light puree of peas or asparagus, but I wanted something a little heartier. Not winter-strength hearty, but a soup with a little more heft.

I rummaged through the fridge and pantry and came up with a pound of chicken and red pepper sausage, roasted red pepper strips with garlic and herbs in olive oil, some of my homemade chicken stock, canned tomatoes and a box of Puy lentils. I removed the sausage from its casings and crumbled it into my soup pot with a little bit of olive oil to brown while I chopped up an onion and a couple of cloves of garlic. Those went into the pot next, along with the roasted peppers and a generous dollop of harissa paste for some heat. Once everything was nicely toasty, I added the tomatoes (half of a large can, plus juices), stock, and a cup of the lentils, lidded up the pan and let it cook away until the lentils were tender. I adjusted the seasoning and tossed in a couple of handfuls of another kitchen staple – some frozen chopped spinach.

While the soup cooked I sliced a couple of thick pieces of the sourdough loaf Mike baked yesterday and re-warmed them in the oven. (I’ll let him go into more depth about the bread if he wants to – but trust me when I say it’s pretty awesome to come home from work and walk directly into a kitchen filled with the smell of bread baking, and sharing the first slice still warm from the oven is pretty freaking amazing. I think we’ve eaten half of the loaf already. It’s delicious and I am, as ever, a lucky girl.)

This soup was a winner with its light and savory broth, the lentils and spinach providing a little earthiness, and the sausage lending a satisfying meatiness. The heat of the harissa was definitely present, but it was more of an overall warmth in each spoonful rather than a knock-you-over-the-head pepperiness. This was not the most seasonal dinner, but I can see us coming back to this in September and October, when autumn’s chill is in the air and we’ve got an abundance of late-season, home-roasted peppers.

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