Cold Winter Weather

     The Midwest has been enduring extreme cold weather with frigid temperatures.  Earlier this week the news reports on the subject, that I was able to catch just bits and pieces of, stated that hot water was freezing instantly in Chicago.  I imagined this whimsically, seeing in my mind newscasters in the windy city tossing buckets of hot water way into the air, it then whirling around and freezing in windswept shapes.  After seeing such reports of record negative degree temperatures, I was glad for our 4º Ohio temps that day.
     Yesterday a heat wave seemed to pass through the state, warming up our bit of Ohio.  With the sun starring in blue skies with puffy white clouds and temps reaching the 20º mark, I suggested we get some fresh air and enjoy the sunshine by taking a walk.  Relating to my cabin fever, Eric was game for such an outing so we made our way to one of our favorite local parks which has a creek meandering through making its way to the Ohio River.  The roads there were covered with a light dusting of snow which crunched, crackled and popped as we choose our way, making sure not to step on anything that resembled ice.

     The creek was swift, which was the only thing that prevented it from freezing over. Witnessing small pieces of ice almost slushy like being pushed through the brisk water was a beautiful site and managed to make us feel colder.  By the end of our walk, which was cut short by the cold our fingers and toes had sustained, we were ready for something to warm us up.

     Eric’s first thought was hot cocoa, and my thought after a trip to the grocery store was soup.  We both needed something to warm up our souls, something to warm us from the inside.  While working on making the stew, we enjoyed our hot cocoa.  This is a lovely winter stew which makes use of the supply of ready to use prepackaged veggies and dried beans found in just about any store these days.  Average green and brown lentils found at any local grocer, organic carrots, leeks, canned tomatoes, and pre-washed packaged kale rounded out the list of produce used.  It is chunky, hearty, spicy from the sausage and hot pepper flakes, and packed with nutrients from the many vegetables.  It is a stand alone dish but I really wish we would have remembered to buy a crusty loaf of bread to go with it.  This stew will serve a crowd and is also great for leftovers.

Spicy Winter Stew with Sausage & Lentils print

Recipe by Jordan


  • 6 oz hot italian sausage
  • 6 oz sweet italian sausage
  • 1 onion diced
  • 2 leeks chopped
  • 2 carrots diced
  • 8 garlic cloves diced
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes w/juice
  • 32 oz vegetable stock
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 cups chopped kale
  • 1 cup dried lentils
  • 2 tsp sage
  • 1/2 tsp red hot pepper flakes
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • salt
  • freshly ground pepper


  1. Sauté sausage in dutch oven until browned. Remove from pan with slotted spoon draining off excess oils and set aside.
  2. Sauté diced onions, garlic, and carrots in dutch oven until onions begin to brown and are slightly caramelized. Season with salt.
  3. Add leeks to pan, allow to sweat about 5-7 minutes.
  4. Return sausage to pan, along with diced tomatoes and juice, vegetable stock and water.
  5. Season with rosemary, sage, red hot pepper flakes, a few grinds of pepper, and salt to taste. Bring to simmer.
  6. Once stew is to a simmer add lentils.
  7. Cook until lentils are tender about 40-45 minutes, adding additional water if needed.
  8. Add kale to stew and cook until wilted. Serve.
Make it Vegetarian/Vegan: Omit sausage. Sauté vegetables in olive oil.  Add toasted crushed fennel seed along with other spices and cannelloni beans when kale is added if desired.
Cooks Tip: To clean leeks cut in half longways and then chop. Separate tightly packed leek parts, place in salad spinner and allow to soak stirring with hands occasionally to loosen any dirt. Drain, rinse and repeat soaking a second time.  Drain and salad spin to remove excess water.

The sky after our walk around 4:30 pm

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