Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Winter's Night

By • December 28, 2009 • 231 Comments


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Author Notes: This hearty one-dish-supper soup is in my regular fall-winter rotation, and has been a family favorite for quite a long time. That means three things: it tastes great, it’s not complicated, and I usually have on hand everything needed to make it. Once it’s served, people dig in and suddenly, the table’s quiet for a minute or two. Serve it with a hearty whole grain bread and follow it with fruit and cheese for a lovely, easy dinner at home. You'll see that the primary herb is marjoram. That's not an herb that you see often in recipes, but to my mind, it's what makes this soup so tasty. Enjoy!!AntoniaJames

Food52 Review: The beauty of this soup is that it manages to be soul-warming but not overly heavy. The broth is light, and aromatic with wine and marjoram, and you feel like you've won the lottery each time you come across a piece of garlicky sausage. AntoniaJames has you simmer the lentils and veggies until they're just cooked through, so that they retain a bit of a bite and the soup, while filling, seems fresh rather than leaden. A sprinkle of red wine vinegar adds a bright hit of acidity. - A&MA&M

Serves four adults with plenty of leftovers.

  • 1 1/2 cup French green lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons bacon fat or olive oil, divided
  • 3 or 4 sausages made with herbs and/or garlic
  • 1 large yellow or white onion
  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 cup sturdy red wine
  • 3 stalks of celery, and their leaves if possible
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram or an equivalent amount of fresh
  • 4 or 5 carrots, depending on their size
  • 4 cups chicken or beef stock (preferably homemade)
  • 3 tablespoons organic ketchup
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (frozen is fine, if you don't have fresh; just use 1 1/2 cups instead)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Red wine vinegar, to taste
  1. Fill a tea kettle with water and put it on the stove to boil while you do the following step.
  2. Heat 2 T of oil or bacon fat with one of the bay leaves and gently saute the sausages, if they are not already cooked. If they are pre-cooked (or if not, once you've cooked them), slice them into ¾“ slices and brown them in the bacon fat or oil. Remove the sausage slices with a slotted spoon and set them aside.
  3. Rinse the lentils in cold water two or three times, pick out any stones or other debris, and put the lentils on the stove in a saucepan with at least three cups of hot water from the kettle. If it hasn’t boiled at this point, don’t worry about it. Stir the lentils and cook them over medium heat, while you chop the vegetables. Be sure to keep an eye on the cooking lentils and stir them occasionally. Add more hot water as they cook, if they start to look dry. (You don’t have to do this step if you have a lot of time to make this soup. I.e., you can put them in the soup, uncooked, with the hot water, after you have cooked the onions and garlic.)
  4. If time is short, heat your stock in the microwave or on the stove so it will be nice and hot when you need it, in a few minutes.
  5. Meanwhile, dice the onions so they are about ½” square; chop the garlic. Add the remaining oil or bacon fat, as well as the onions and garlic, to the pan in which the sausages were browned; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally. When the onions start to look a bit translucent, push them aside with a spoon and add the wine. Cook for a minute or two to deglaze the pot.
  6. Stir the lentils in with the cooking water. It doesn’t matter whether they are cooked. Just add them now, and add the stock.
  7. Chop the celery into small dice and chop a small handful of the celery leaves, if you have them; add to the soup. Add the marjoram and stir well, continuing to cook.
  8. Cut the carrots into slices or chunks, depending on how thick they are. Add them to the pot, with the reserved sausages, and the salt and pepper to taste, and stir well. (I add the sausages at this point, rather than earlier, because the kind I use tends to fall apart, even after browned, if I cook them much longer. You can add them when you combine the lentils and their cooking water, if that's not a problem for you.)
  9. Cook for at least another ten minutes, adding more water if necessary and stirring occasionally, to prevent the lentils from sticking. At this point, you can also turn it down to simmer, if you have the time, but do keep an eye on the lentils, please, and add more water if necessary.
  10. Add the ketchup and stir well. Cook until the carrots are tender.
  11. Test and correct the seasonings. Add the spinach and the parsley. Heat until the soup is very hot.
  12. Pass the red wine vinegar separately, for people to add, to taste. Serve with a hearty whole grain bread and fresh butter.
  13. Enjoy!!!

Tags: delicious, hearty, One-Pot Wonders, One-Pot Wonders, One-Pot Wonders, travels well

Comments (231) Questions (6)

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1 day ago Ice Cream Girl

Wow. This is really good. I made it vegetarian by using Field Roast Sausage and Better than Bouillon Almost Chicken soup base and it turned out great. This is my new favorite lentil soup recipe now. It has such complex flavors and a rich and satisfying taste. A small bowl is very filling. Love this recipe. Thanks for sharing it!

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about 19 hours ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

So glad you like this, Ice Cream Girl! Your adaptation sounds so interesting and delicious, you've inspired me to try it. Thank you for letting us know. ;o)

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about 1 month ago Kgiersch

Wonderful, easy recipe. I didn't have marjoram, so substituted thyme. I also used chicken sausage. Will definitely make again!

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

I often use both thyme and marjoram, Kgiersch, but thyme alone, I'm sure, would work well. Thank you for trying this recipe, for letting use know about the substitution, and most of all, for your kind words. ;o)

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about 1 month ago LYNN

I'm always looking for delicious, healthful soups for our cold weather suppers. This soup is delicious and a true keeper! I made mine with low-fat, organic, Italian, chicken sausage. I substituted fresh baby kale for the spinach, as it's now a staple I try to always have on hand to throw into just about everything. I served this with a small loaf of crusty homemade bread, a chunk of aged English cheddar cheese, fresh pears, a small bowl of shelled walnuts, and a great bottle of wine. Ahhh!

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27 days ago LYNN

I just would like to add that my husband and I agree that this is one of the most delicious soups we've ever had. Thank you, Antonia!

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Lynn. That's quite a compliment! ;o)

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about 1 month ago Waverly

Absolutely wonderful - cold weather home cooking at its yummiest!

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Waverly. So glad you enjoyed it. And thank you again for posting about it on your blog. I'm honored. ;o)

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about 1 month ago Loves Pie

I make this soup alot. I love it and so does my family. It's turned my son into a lentil fan! It turned very cold gain in hiladelphia s this soup is on for dinner

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

So good to hear, Loves Pie. Any time you can turn a child onto a superfood like lentils, it's always a good thing! ;o)

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3 months ago caseymsy

I prefer lentils but hubby prefers beans, so we take it in turns

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3 months ago caseymsy

Lentils are lentils, so it doesn't matter, I also use cannelini beans (both fresh and dry, or tinned

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3 months ago Celia Rodee

Will it matter if you don't use French Green Lentils?

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Celia Rodee, regular lentils work, too! In fact, the Food52 editors tested it, back in late 2009, using regular lentils. ;o)

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3 months ago Janet

Delicious! Thank you for the recipe. I did find the instructions a bit chatty & confusing, so I just made it the way I thought it would turn out ok without all the hoopla. I boiled the water & poured it over the lentils & let it do its thing while I watched a webisode of Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee with my cat. Then I sauteed Applewood's sweet Italian chicken sausage in a little olive oil, then dumped it into a bowl & set aside. Then, I sauteed all the vegs together w/the marjoram, added the wine, then rinsed & dumped in the partially softened lentils, along with a Costco box of organic chicken stock. After the lentils were almost soft, I added a handful of shredded greens (as I'm not supposed to have spinach). When I tasted it, it was a little bland, so I added the questionable ketchup and bam(!), it totally changed the flavor. So I went ahead and added a tiny bit of balsamic vinegar & it was even better. I dumped the sausage in & heated it all through & it turned out great. Thanks again.

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3 months ago Sheryl

I really needed a recipe for using a couple bags of Lentils, this is great. I can change-up a few of the ingredients easily (i.e. strong cranberry juice concentrate for red wine, etc.) A soup with Lentils is so versatile that the tweaks don't ruin anything - only make it something a bit different. I doubled this recipe then froze it immediately too. Thank you for the great idea! Sheryl

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks, Sheryl. I love it when people take recipes and just run with them, as you did. Your tweak sounds terrific! ;o)

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3 months ago Claudia

Made this a couple days ago and still going strong. I had bulk chicken/bacon sausage from our CSA and used that instead of slices. Organic ketchup -- LOL...I used tomato paste. At my age I don't really need assembly directions for a soup...I think any way you put this together would work. It was delicious in this freezing January, and I'll make it again.

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you so much, Claudia. ;o)

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3 months ago Caroline Conger

This soup was a winner last night! I loved all of the time saving tips, especially because my hungry mouths decided at 7 that only lentil soup would do and that they needed some NOW. I used chorizo for the sausage and it worked really well!

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27 days ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Caroline, I'm glad the time saving tips were helpful! Being primarily a weeknight cook most of my adult life, I tend to do so many dishes in a linear fashion, like this one. (It made me so happy to read that Nigel Slater wholly embraces the practicality of working this way.) ;o)

Stringio

3 months ago Steve Ali Lee

This recipe is right on time I had this recently at a restaurant and loved it. Now I will attempt to make it thanks..

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3 months ago caseymsy

Soulriver You add the lentils AND the cooking water together. I don't cook my lentils separately ( too much mucking around) I put them in dry into the broth. Just as nice.If you are stuck for time use lentils in tin( when I do this I don't drain them I use the lot)

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3 months ago Soulriver

With all due respect, I cannot seem to follow this recipe.... I was cooking my lentils in 3 cups of pre-boiled water. Then in step 6 it says, "Stir the lentils in with the cooking water." I am expecting it to taste great, but the way the recipe is written is not succinct. It would have also been great to know what size "saucepan" to use. My soup is overflowing in my large "saucepan" right now and I have not added the spinach or the sausages... Hmmm. I would say this could be cooked in a very large soup pot. I would love to see this recipe re-written without so many "ifs."

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3 months ago bugbitten

Respectfully, I think you should call on your own humanness to make this recipe work for you. The ifs are there as a way to let yourself in.

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4 months ago AlainaMK

I finally made this yesterday after pining for it during summer months, and it was absolutely delicious. I'm currently eating it for lunch right now, and it may be even better today. I subbed the pork sausage for Amylu chicken sausage (italian with peppers and onions variety) to make it slightly lighter, which also gave it a little kick. So good!! Can't wait to make this one again soon.

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4 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thank you, Alaina. So glad you enjoyed it. ;o)

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5 months ago caseymsy

I make this winter and summer, we love it .I use tomato/water as my stock and separate half as my family like small pasta added. I don't. I also use balsamic vinegar, but the beauty is this is a recipe for all tastes

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4 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

caseymsy, what great ideas! Thanks so much. And yes, it can be adapted so many ways. I rarely make it the same way twice. ;o)

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5 months ago brianjtito

I made this last night and it was incredible. Looking forward to the leftovers. Thanks so much!

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5 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

Thanks so much. We had some last night, too! I daresay, the leftovers you enjoy will be even better. Like so many hearty soups, this improves after a day or two. ;o)

Stringio

6 months ago susan.h.schneider

I love this site and to find this recipe here cemented my conviction. What a wonderful recipe! I made it tonight pretty much as written, but it sounds like it's easily adaptable and that makes it great! Thank you so much!

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6 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You're welcome, Susan. So glad to hear this! We practically live on this throughout the winter, using different kinds of sausage, and different types of greens, to liven things up a bit. Thank you for your kind words. ;o)

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6 months ago sandra

Made this soup Sunday afternoon and my husband is crazy for this soup-what a great recipe-this helps you work on healthy.
Thanks for a great, great recipe

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6 months ago AntoniaJames

AntoniaJames is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

You're welcome Sandra. My husband is a big fan of this one, too! (As am I . . . . ) Do you know, I almost didn't submit this recipe, nearly four years ago, thinking that it was nothing special? And yet, people seem to love it so much. I'm really glad I did! ;o)