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The fact that I have posted a ridiculous amount of rich food recently had not been lost on me. Apparently, I decided to celebrate Fat Tuesday for the entire month of February. It happens.

Naturally, when Fat Tuesday comes early in the form of an entire month, drastic measures must be taken. My drastic measures took the form not of Paczki, but of stew.

Yes, stew! Sausage and Lentil Stew. While it isn’t exactly photogenic, it is very delicious. I love it because it feels naughty, but isn’t  the least bit bad for you. Because you shouldn’t have to sacrifice comfort food to eat healthfully. Besides, a big bowl of this stew is much better for you than a calorie-laden Pazcki. One 1 1/2 cup serving is around 300 calories. Did I mention the sausage?

Whenever I ask my family for dinner ideas, Son #1 shouts “Sausage and Lentil Stew!” It’s been his favorite since he was a toddler. And because it is Son #1’s favorite, I asked him photo document the process with my Blackberry. I let him tell me when to pause so that he could take the pictures. When I mentioned that he took a lot fewer photos than I usually take, he replied “Mom, it’s a simple soup. You don’t need a lot of pictures.”  Indeed. He’s pretty thrilled to have helped me blog.

Sausage and Lentil Stew (adapted from Taste of Home Light magazine)

1/4 lb. fully cooked turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (I use 4—cloves of garlic)

2 tsp. Canola oil

3 C. water

1 3/4 C. chicken broth

1 C. dry lentils, rinsed & drained

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (4 oz.) green chilies

Heat the canola oil in a large stock pot over medium-high heat. Saute the carrots, celery, and onion in the hot oil, until the vegetables are almost soft–about 5 minutes.

While the other vegetables are cooking, peel and dice the potatoes, and garlic. Thinly slice the sausage. The original recipe called for a full pound of turkey kielbasa, but that was a ton of sausage. I cut the amount back to 1/4 pound, and I slice the kielbasa in half, then thinly slice the halves. That way, you get a little sausage in each bite of stew, but not so much that it is overwhelming.

BTW–this recipe is also a great way to use leftover brats from your summer barbecues.

Pour the water into the softened vegetable mixture…

…followed by the chicken broth. Yep, it’s store bought. I’ve been a little lazy busy. Give the pot a quick stir.

Stir in the garlic, sausage, and potatoes into the pot.

Pour in the rinsed lentils, salt, cumin, and cayenne pepper. I only put a smidge of cayenne, but if you can stand the heat, by all means, add more!  Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally. Once it boils, reduce the heat. Cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are soft. Stir in the tomatoes and chilies, and heat through.

The aroma of this stew is amazing. If you have enough will power not to dive right in, then I recommend letting it cool, and refrigerate it over night to let the flavors get to know each other better. When you are ready, reheat the stew on the stove top, and ladle it into bowls. Whenever you serve it, be sure to serve it with a big hunk of crusty bread. And by all means, feel free to add the toppings of your choice. We like sour cream, cheddar, diced avocado, or chives.

As a side note: I’m proud of my eldest boy’s first attempt at food photography. I may have to put him to work more often! :)

Sausage and Lentil Stew

(Adapted from Taste of Home Light magazine)

Serves 8

¼ lb. fully cooked turkey kielbasa, thinly sliced

2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

2 celery ribs, sliced

1 medium onion, chopped

2 medium potatoes, peeled and diced

2 garlic cloves, peeled and minced (I use 4—cloves of garlic)

2 tsp. Canola oil

3 C. water

1 ¾ C. chicken broth

1 C. dry lentils, rinsed & drained

3/4 tsp. salt

1/2 tsp. ground cumin

1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper (or more, to taste)

1 can diced tomatoes, undrained

1 can (4 oz.) green chilies

In stock pot, cook kielbasa, carrots, celery, onion and garlic in oil until vegetables are almost tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in water, potatoes, garlic, broth, lentils, salt, cumin, and cayenne: bring to a boil.  Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 40 minutes, or until potatoes are tender, stirring occasionally.  Add tomatoes and chilies and heat through.

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