2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 bay leaves
2 sticks celery, diced
500 grams spicy sausages e.g chorizo or chilli pork
½ teaspoon fennel seeds
2 tablespoons tomato paste
150 grams Puy lentils, rinsed
2 x 400 gram tins crushed Italian tomatoes
1 teaspoon caster sugar
3 cups vegetable stock
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
large handful parsley leaves
Heat the oil in a large saucepan and sauté the onion, garlic, bay leaves and celery over a medium heat for 5 minutes or until the onion is soft and translucent.
Remove the skins from the sausages and add the sausage meat to the pan with the fennel seeds. Cook for 3-4 minutes or until lightly golden, breaking up the meat with the back of a spoon. Add the tomato paste and mix to combine. Stir in the lentils, tomatoes, sugar and stock and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, half covered, for 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are cooked, adding a little more liquid if necessary.
To serve: Ladle the soup into warm bowls and top with torn parsley leaves and crusty bread or rolls on the side.
Pantry note: Puy Lentils: these small slate-green lentils have a delicate blue marbling. Widely regarded as the best lentil because of their unique peppery flavour and the fact they hold their shape during cooking. They’re the only lentil to be identified by area of cultivation – grown in the Le Puy region of France. If Puy lentils prove hard to find substitute with red or brown lentils.