Quick fix: Add your own zest to premade lentil soup mix

Bulk soup mixes seem to be all the rage these days. Just a few years ago, you could only find bean soup mixes on the bottom shelf in the grocery store aisle. Now the shelves are filled with bulk mix options.

Some mixes even include flavor packets that make it easier to pull off a pot of soup. I've tried flavor packets, but often find them too bland for my taste. Friends have often expressed a similar problem, but for them the soup is too salty. What's a desperate cook to do?

For today's soup, Italian sausage takes the lead for flavor. Then we pump it up with dried Italian seasoning and just a couple of tablespoons of Italian-style tomato paste, which comes in a tube for easy measuring.

Feel free to get as creative as you want by adding more vegetables - onion, garlic or sweet red pepper. If you choose a sturdier bean mix than lentils, then be sure to simmer according to the package directions, so your beans will be tender. This will be delicious!

Suggested Menu

Simple Sausage and Lentil Soup

Toasted Sourdough Bread

Crisp sauvignon blanc

• Alicia Ross is the co-author of "Desperation Dinners!" (Workman, 1997), "Desperation Entertaining!" (Workman, 2002) and "Cheap. Fast. Good!" (Workman, 2006). Contact her at Kitchen Scoop, c/o Universal Uclick, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106, or send email to Or visit the Kitchen Scoop website at

Simple Sausage and Lentil Soup

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