I sautéed chopped smoked sausage, onions, celery and carrots along with a hefty amount of minced garlic and a teaspoon of salt in olive oil for about 5 minutes. I added a chopped tomato and cooked a bit longer, then a good dollop of tomato paste and stirred the mixture around to cook for another 2 minutes or so. In went 2 cups of lentils, about a teaspoon of thyme, 2 bay leaves, more salt, and a pinch of chile flakes along with about 4 cups of water and close to 11 cups of chicken broth. I brought everything to a boil and simmered the soup for about 20 minutes until the lentils were tender. The last step -- as directed by my TV hostess, was to stir in about 2 teaspoons of red wine vinegar (homemade right out of our kitchen cask) for a bit of flavor punch.
To serve, as instructed by the TV, I made a pan of garlic croutons. Cubes of slightly stale bread (about 1 inch square) tossed in a hot pan with olive oil and two whole cloves of garlic until golden brown and crispy. The soup was good, but the croutons gave it a little something extra -- and so easy, all in a skillet -- no tray of cubes to burn in the oven, and ready to go.
Even on a hot night, soup is "a good thing." Garlic croutons are even better.