Sausage and Lentil Soup


1 lb Italian sausage
1 large onion, chopped
1 chopped fennel bulb
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped carrots
3 (14-ounce) cans fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 teaspoon chopped fresh or 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 cup canned diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, and oregano
1/2 pound dried lentils
2 bay leaves
1/4 cup chopped fresh chives
fresh lemon zest
Cook & crumble sausage in a Dutch oven over medium heat until brown. Add the onion and the next 4 ingredients (onion through carrot); cover and cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add broth and next 6 ingredients (broth through bay leaves). Bring to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour or until lentils are tender. Discard bay leaves; top with chives & lemon zest just before serving.
Yield: 8 servings (serving size: 1 3/4 cups)