by Mary Ann Esposito
The secret according to Mary Ann Esposito is to keep this soup simple and use good sausage with fennel seasoning in it.
3 sweet pork sausage links, casings removed and meat crumbled
6 cups chicken broth
1 cup dried lentils, sorted and washed (1 cup dried lentils yields 3 to 4 cups cooked)
1/2 cup ditalini
2 cups diced tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
1. Cook the sausage in a nonstick skillet over medium heat until it is no longer pink. Set aside.
2. Pour the chicken broth into a soup pot, add the lentils, and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook 30 to 35 minutes. (Do not overcook them or they will turn to mush; they should still have a bit of a firm core at this point.)
3. Stir in the ditalini, and 1 teaspoon of salt and continue cooking until the pasta is almost al dente, about 5 minutes depending on the brand. Stir in the sausage and tomatoes. Cover and simmer the soup for 10 minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
A salad is the only accompaniment needed as the soup is quite hearty.
Recipe courtesy of Mary Ann Esposito, Ciao Italia Five-Ingredient Favorites, 2010.