This hearty soup is a copycat recipe of Carrabba's spicy sausage and lentil soup. Loaded with vegetables, inexpensive lentils, and Italian sausage. It makes for a hearty meal, and sure to be a new family favorite!
In a large 5-quart (or larger) sauce pot, pour the olive oil in the pot. Then place the ground Italian sausage. Cook on medium-heat breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon. Mix, and continue to break up for five minutes.
Next, add in the garlic and diced onion. Mix into the meat mixture and reduce the heat to medium-low. While the meat mixture is cooking, dice the celery, peel and dice the carrots, and dice the zucchini. Place the vegetables in the soup pot. Mix well then add in the diced tomatoes, lentils, and spices. Mix well then pour in the chicken stock (mixing one last time).
Bring the soup to a boil (about 5-10 minutes), then reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Make sure you mix every 10-15 minutes to prevent lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pot.
Once the soup is cooked, ladle the soup into bowl, and sprinkle with Parmesan if desired. Enjoy!
Note: If you prefer a thicker consistency, place one cup of the soup into a blender and puree. Then add the puree back to the soup pot.