This recipe has travelled across the Old Country.

It has Slavic origins that can be traced back to vampires. Potentially Dracul himself…on a slightly more vegetarian night.

Ancient Egypt, the Near East (as opposed to the Far one), India and Iran — even entire continents love this bean. Or pea. Bean-pea.

Poland’s involved, too. It lends its sausage to the soup.

Polska kielbasa  (pronounced keel-boss-ee by my husband and father-in-law) is a super-flavorful sausage that makes this soup.

My father-in-law puts this meal together on New Year’s Day, a tradition passed down from his mother.

We make it about once a month. It’s hearty, healthy, delicious and, quite honestly, trumps the other soup recipes I’ve tested recently (i.e. split-pea, black bean and sweet potato, butternut squash with ginger — all barely edible).

The soup is simple — carrots, celery, onion, sausage and, of course, the high-protein/high-fiber lentils.

Over the years, I’ve added fresh basil, chopped garlic and a slew of other spices to this soup. 

Although delicious, it did not need the extra additions. As humble as its few ingredients may seem, it is fantastic just the way it is.

Lentil Soup

from my father-in-law

4 to 5 full-sized carrots, peeled and chopped

4 to 5 stalks of celery, chopped

1 medium yellow onion, chopped

1 pkg. (16 oz.) lentils (I prefer regular or “green” lentils, although red works just as well)

1 lb. polska kielbasa, pre-cooked, chopped (I use Hillshire Farm brand)

Salt and pepper, to taste

Rinse and pick over lentils.

Place lentils in a large pot and fill with 6 to 8 cups of water. Add carrots, celery, onion and kielbasa. If needed, adjust water so that about 2/3 of the soup ingredients are covered with water.

Salt and pepper to taste. (I add just a dash of salt and a few “cracks” of freshly ground pepper.)

Bring to simmer and cover partially with lid. Cook for about 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Test carrots for doneness. (I prefer to simmer until the beans break down a little, as it makes for a thicker broth.) Serve with crackers.

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