Spicy Sausage and Lentil Stew

This rich, hearty stew is so good on a chilly evening and makes great leftovers. Serve with crusty bread or over white rice. This recipe serves 6-8.

PREP TIME: 10 minutes
COOK TIME: 1 hours 45 minutes

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 medium yellow or white onion, finely chopped
1 cup celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon crushed chili flakes
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 tsp. ground fennel seed (optional)
1 pound hot Italian beef or turkey sausage
8 cups chicken stock
3 14-ounce cans diced tomatoes
1 1/2 cups dried brown lentils
2 bay leaves
Salt and pepper, to taste
Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)

In a large dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon oil to medium. Add onion and celery and sauté for five minutes. Add garlic, chili flakes, thyme and fennel and cook for one more minute.

Add remaining olive oil and add sausage. Break the sausage apart with a wooden spatula as it cooks. Cook until the sausage is browned, about 5-6 minutes.

Add two cups of stock and scrape the bottom of the pan to release all of the brown bits. Add remaining stock, tomatoes and juice, lentils and bay leaves. Bring to a low boil, then reduce heat to low and summer until beans are tender, about an hour and a half. Discard bay leaves, season with salt and pepper and garnish with parsley. Serve warm.