Winter Lentil, Swiss Chard and Italian Sausage Soup

¼ cup. olive oil
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 ribs celery, chopped
1 medium onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. bulk Italian sausage
3 cups dry lentils
8 cups water or chicken broth
1 T. dried thyme
1 T. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground black pepper
28 oz. can chopped tomatoes (with juice)
1 bunch red or green Swiss chard, coarsely chopped
grated Romano cheese for topping

In large stockpot, heat olive oil and sauté the carrots, celery, and onion until softened, about 5 minutes on medium heat. Add garlic and sausage; cook 3-5 minutes, crumbling sausage as you stir.

Add lentils, water or broth, thyme, salt, pepper and tomatoes. Cover and cook on low heat for 1 hour. Taste for seasoning and tenderness of lentils.

When lentils are tender, add the Swiss chard; cook another 5 minutes, stirring often.

Serve in large bowls with grated cheese, crusty bread and mixed green salad on side. Serves 6-8.

NOTE: If Swiss chard is not available, substitute fresh spinach… 9 oz. bag of baby spinach leaves.

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