I haven't had lentils since I was a kid. I used to eat a lentil soup from Progresso and I loved it. I was recipe searching for a lentil soup to try and I found a couple that looked great. I blended two recipes and made this one.
4 slices bacon, chopped
2 links italian sausage, casings removed (I used chicken ital saus)
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 stalks celery, chopped (leaves are good too!)
5 cloves garlic, minced
2 medium carrots, diced
2 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
10 cups chicken stock
3 cups dry lentils
Fresh thyme leaves
Fresh parsley leaves
2 bay leaves
Salt and Ground Black Pepper
Saute the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently. Add the italian sausage and break it up while stirring. Pour off half the fat. Add the onions, celery and garlic and continue to cook, stirring occasionally for a few minutes. Then add the carrots. After a couple of minutes, add your tomatoes, chicken stock, herbs, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer and add the lentils. Cover and continue to cook at a simmer for about 30-45 minutes or until your lentils are tender. Remove bay leaves. Use your stick blender to blend your soup to the desired consistency. I did a partial blend as I like to have some lentils in my soup as well as some blended to make it a bit thicker.
This turned out really good. It made a cozy dinner but not a heavy dinner. I did freeze in individual portions which also turned out well. It was easy to reheat and serve. Crusty bread was also excellent with this.
For a crockpot version, you could brown the meats in a pan, add to the crock pot and add the remaining ingredients. For the stick blending, I would remove to a pot so you don't scratch your crockpot stoneware. Or tear the plastic crock liner if you use those.