I love the richness of gumbo, a roux-based soup. It is hearty and comforting cold weather fare. Gumbo commonly uses okra or filé powder as a thickener -- I decided to use some red lentils instead, and I was quite pleased with the result. I had an orange bell pepper on hand so used it in the "trinity." I added lacinato kale to add some contrast in color and texture. I prefer to make my roux in the oven (so easy), but feel free to do it on the stove-top if you'd like.
It makes a great hearty meal for a casual get-together, and it tastes even better if made the day before. You only need to rewarm the leftovers and make some rice (and a pan of cornbread with whipped honey butter, if you're so inclined). This soup is like love in a bowl, so it should definitely be shared! —hardlikearmour
Test Kitchen Notes
This dish was yummy! The bacon flavor is nice and strong -- and there is nothing better than bacon paired with lentils. The addition of sausage and kale really rounds out the dish. —audrey kasindorf
6 to 8
diced bacon (or pancetta)
bell pepper (color of your choice)
medium cloves of garlic
1 1/2 pounds
Andouille sausage (or other smoked sausage)
red or yellow lentils (split and skinned-style lentils)
bunch lacinato kale
1 1/2 teaspoons
creole seasoning, plus more to taste
Heat the oven to 350° F. Sauté the bacon in a 10-inch cast iron skillet (or another oven-safe skillet) until browned and crisped, then strain it through mesh strainer to collect the fat. Place the bacon in the fridge -- it will be added to the gumbo later. Wipe down the skillet well. Strain the collected fat into a liquid measuring cup, using a very fine strainer or some cheesecloth. Add vegetable oil to the pancetta fat to get 1/3 cup total.
Place the fat and flour into the cast iron skillet and mix together. Bake in the oven for about 90 minutes, stirring every 20 to 30 minutes, until you have a dark roux. It should look similar to melted chocolate.
While the roux is cooking, do your prep: Dice the onion, bell pepper, and celery, then combine them in a bowl. Mince or press the garlic. Slice your sausage on the bias. Pick over and rinse the lentils well. Wash, derib, and coarsely chop your kale.
Once your roux is done, place the skillet on a burner, and add your onions, bell pepper, and celery. Heat the skillet over medium to medium-high heat, stirring continuously, until the veggies are softened. Stir in your garlic and cook until fragrant, about one minute. Transfer your roux and vegetables to a 4 to 6 quart stock pot. Use 1 to 2 cups of your stock to deglaze the skillet and mix it together with the vegetables in the stock pot. Add the rest of your stock, the bay leaf, thyme, allspice, and creole seasoning to the stock pot. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low.
Brown your sausage in the now empty skillet. Add the sausage to the stock pot. Simmer for 30 minutes, then add your lentils. Simmer for 30 minutes, or until your lentils are soft and start to fall apart. Add the kale -- you will need to stir this a bit to get all of the kale wilted. Simmer for 5 minutes, then add the bacon. Taste for seasoning, then add creole seasoning, salt, and pepper as needed.
Serve over long-grain white rice with Louisiana hot sauce as a condiment.
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.