Hearty soup offers high level of comfort-foodness
If that's overstating it, I'm sorry, but my family never can get enough of these bean-grain-sausage concoctions.
You'll see that two different starches are called for: rice and Israeli couscous. There is no reason for this other than that I had a bit of couscous left, but not enough for the whole batch of soup. Also, I love soups with a bounce-up of textures in them. You could use all rice, or all couscous, or any other grain you want to play with from spelt to farro. Just look at the cooking times of the grain you want to use, and work backward to figure out when to add it.
There are lots of flavored chicken sausages on the market these days — I went with the basic Italian-seasoned versions, hot or sweet, but you could try any version that seems compatible with this simple soup.
Also, know that soups thicken as they cool, so if you are planning to keep it for a day or two, you might find yourself needing to add some extra water or broth to loosen it up when you reheat it. This is also the kind of soup that is perfect when made ahead; the flavors deepen over a day or two in the fridge.
Leek, chicken sausage and split pea soup
Serves: 12 to 14
Start to finish: 1 hour 15 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 large leeks, white and light green parts, thinly sliced
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
10 to 12 cups less-sodium chicken stock
1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 cups split peas
1 cup long-grain rice
1/2 cup Israeli couscous
12 to 16 ounces cooked chicken sausage, halved lengthwise and sliced
To garnish (optional):
Chopped fresh parsley
Toasted pumpkin seeds
In a very large soup pot or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the leeks, season with salt and pepper, and saute for about 8 minutes until they are wilted. Raise the heat to high, add 10 cups of the broth and the crushed tomatoes, and bring to a simmer. Add the split peas, return to a simmer, then lower the heat and simmer partially covered for 30 minutes.
Add the rice and simmer another 10 minutes, then add the couscous and sausage and simmer for another 20 minutes until the grains and the peas are tender. Add all or part of the remaining 2 cups of broth if the soup seems too thick when you finish cooking it. Serve hot in bowls, with some parsley and/or pumpkin seeds on top.
Nutritional information: Nutrition information per serving: 258 calories; 61 calories from fat; 7 g fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 19 mg cholesterol; 412 mg sodium; 34 g carbohydrate; 10 g fiber; 5 g sugar; 15 g protein.
Katie Workman has written two cookbooks focused on easy, family-friendly cooking, "Dinner Solved!" and "The Mom 100 Cookbook." She blogs at http://www.themom100.com/about-katie-workman/
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