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Creamy lentil soup with lamb sausage & rosemary

48 oz. (1 ½ quarts) good beef stock
olive oil
salt and pepper
3 links (approx. 5 oz. each) mild lamb sausage, casings removed
1 medium onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup dry lentils
2 cups sliced mushrooms
½ cup dry red wine
1 tsp. each, dried sage and thyme
1 cup finely cubed carrot
1 cup finely cubed celery
2 cups spinach leaves, chopped (frozen is fine)
1 tbsp. fresh thyme, chopped
1 tbsp. fresh rosemary, finely chopped
2 tbsp. fresh parsley, chopped
1 cup heavy cream

Gently heat the beef stock in a large soup pot over low heat. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large non-stick sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the sausage to the pan and begin to break it up into small pieces. When the sausage pieces begin to brown add the onion and a large pinch of salt to the pan and cook, stirring often until it is translucent and beginning to brown as well. Add the dried sage and thyme to the pan, then the garlic. Cook another minute or two, and then remove from heat. Add the sausage mixture to the pot of hot stock. Bring the pot to a boil and then reduce heat to medium. Add the lentils to the soup pot and allow them to simmer 15 to 20 minutes or until al dente.

While the lentils are simmering, sauté the mushrooms in another 3 tablespoons olive oil and a large pinch of salt in a large sauté pan over medium-high heat. When they are cooked and nicely browned add the red wine to them and reduce heat to medium. Allow the wine to reduce by half, then add the mushrooms to the soup pot. Add the carrots, celery and spinach to the soup, stirring to mix evenly. Simmer the soup another 10-15 minutes or until vegetables are brightly colored but tender. Add the fresh herbs, the cream and any additional salt and pepper to taste. Makes 4 to 6 servings.

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