porchToday is the day we kick off The Daniel Plan at our church. What is the Daniel Plan? It is a program developed by Pastor Rick Warren that encourages a healthy lifestyle centered on five life essentials: Faith, Food, Fitness, Focus and Friends. It is a forty day plan spurring us to a healthier and happier life. Check it out here to learn more.

A few months ago, one of the pastors asked if I would be interested in giving some cooking demonstrations over a six-week period, showcasing some of the recipes featured in the program. Since I am a fun-loving sanguine, who loves to cook, and loves to teach, and loves being in front of large crowds, I of course said, “yes!” Once this fun-loving sanguine slowed down long enough to realized what I had said yes to, I quickly realized that I may be in way over my head. I soon purchased the Daniel Plan book and cook book, and began to familiarize myself with the plan, ingredients and recipes it had to offer. The more I read, the more I learned. And the more I learned, the more excited I got! This is going to be fun!

After pouring over the many recipes, I decided to kick off the six-week demonstration with a hearty lentil and chicken sausage soup. The original recipe is in the Daniel Plan book and here on the web site.

Here is my slightly different version:

Lentil and Chicken Sausage Soup

1 pound of raw lentils
4 links chicken sausage (I purchased mine from Sprouts and combined two sweet Italian and two German Brats)
1-2 tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (add more if needed but be careful because the sausage may be salty enough)
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more if you like it hot)
1 28 oz can, canned tomatoes (with juice)
2 quarts low sodium chicken broth (add more if you like it soupier)

in a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat, add carrots, onion, celery, garlic and salt. cook till onions are translucent, 5-10 minutes. Next add broth, lintels, tomatoes, black pepper, cayenne pepper and cumin. stir and bring to a boil. Once boiling point has been reached, reduce heat to low and simmer for 30-40 minutes. while the soup is simmering, its time to brown the chicken sausage. with the sharp point of a knife, make a cut through the casing, down the length of the sausage. Squeeze the meat from the casing and place in a large pan (you may or may not need to add a small amount of olive oil to the pan, depending on how much fat is in the sausage) brown the meat breaking it up as you cook it. drain any excess fat and add to the lintel soup. Add more broth of its too thick. Serve hot.

This recipe makes a big ol pot of wonderful, hot and hearty soup that is perfect for a cold winters night. Enjoy! I’ll be back soon to pass along more recipes to help us have a healthier (and delicious) lifestyle!