Warning: This easy lentil soup recipe is only for those with good appetites. My son spent the afternoon playing soccer on a cool fall day and he gobbled it up. You should plan on making it several hours before dinnertime and let your kitchen fill with its enticing aroma.
In France we can buy a special sort of salt cured pork called petit salé. It comes in different cuts and the one I used for this lentil soup recipe was very meaty, although I did trim off some of the fat after cooking. If you can't find a good and meaty piece of salt pork, you may wish to substitute a ham hock, which would give you a result similar to the original French recipe.
To prepare a dish with petit salé, you must first get most of the salt out of the pork, otherwise the salt is overwhelming (I know because when I first got to France, I found out the hard way!) To blanche the salt out, place the meat in a large pot of cold water and allow it to sit for two hours, changing the water several times during the process.
OK, we're back to these. The lentil soup recipe I was following called for French green lentils, and as you may already know, these are a speciality of the Auvergne region in France. I happened to have plain old brown lentils in the cupboard, so I just used those and the results were delicious. However, if you want even more authentic French flavor on your plate, do try some Lentilles du Puy. They are absolutely divine tasting and hold up exceptionally well to cooking.
Have you tasted a juicy Toulouse sausage? They are often an ingredient in Cassoulet, the famous French stew featuring white beans and a variety of meats (good eating for those of strong heart). Toulouse sausage is made from pork, onions and wine and is just as delicious as you can imagine. You could substitute another sausage in this lentil soup recipe, but please make sure it is a quality substitution.
Now that you're familiar with some of the ingredients, let's get cooking. This recipe is very simple, but it takes a little time to prepare and cook, so start out early in the afternoon. Don't worry, actual kitchen time is minimal.
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