One-Pot Wonders

Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Winter's Night

December 28, 2009
37 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
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

Test Kitchen Notes

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&M —The Editors

  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 with plenty of leftovers
Ingredients
  • 1 1/2 cups French green lentils
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil (or bacon fat)
  • 1 pound Italian pork sausage
  • 1 large yellow or white onion, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
  • 1 pinch Salt (more to taste)
  • 3 celery stalks (and their leaves if possible), chopped
  • 1 tablespoon dried marjoram (or fresh marjoram, chopped)
  • 1/2 cup sturdy red wine
  • 4 large carrots, cut into 1/4-inch dice
  • 4 cups chicken or beef stock (preferably homemade)
  • 3 tablespoons ketchup
  • 2 cups chopped spinach (frozen is fine; just use 1 1/2 cups instead)
  • 1/4 cup chopped parsley
  • 1 pinch Freshly ground black pepper (more to taste)
  • 1 dash Red wine vinegar (more to taste)
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Rinse the lentils; put them in a large saucepan with about 3 cups of water and bay leaves. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed soup pot; add the sausage and brown, stirring frequently. Remove the sausage to a cutting board and cut into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Reserve.
  3. Add the remaining oil, the onions and garlic, with a good pinch of salt; cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft.
  4. Add the celery and marjoram, stirring over medium heat all the while. Add the wine and let it cook until reduced by half. Stir in the lentils with their cooking water, along with the stock, sliced sausage and the carrots; bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer until the lentils are tender and the broth is concentrated, 30 to 45 minutes.
  5. Ten minutes before serving, stir in the ketchup, spinach and parsley; simmer for another five minutes. Check for salt and correct. Add freshly ground pepper. Serve with red wine vinegar for guests to add, to taste.
  6. A bowl of this soup, with slices of hearty whole-grain bread, toasted, makes a fine one-pot supper.
Contest Entries

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Brenda S. Moore
    Brenda S. Moore
  • Elle Rudemiller
    Elle Rudemiller
  • ctgal
    ctgal
  • Julieek
    Julieek
  • Soo Jin McBride
    Soo Jin McBride
AntoniaJames

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

When I'm not working (negotiating transactions for internet companies), or outside enjoying the gorgeous surroundings here in Boulder County, CO, I'm likely to be cooking, shopping for food, planning my next culinary experiment, or researching, voraciously, whatever interests me. In my kitchen, no matter what I am doing -- and I actually don't mind cleaning up -- I am deeply grateful for having the means to create, share with others and eat great food. Life is very good. ;o)

    327 Reviews

    Brenda S. February 19, 2021
    Hi there Antonia- I discovered your soup while living in Charlotte. I have since moved and live in Boulder county as well. I think I'm going to make another pot of this over the weekend. I love living here too. Thank you for sharing the recipe.
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames February 20, 2021
    Thank you, Brenda. As soon as we're no longer under house arrest (i.e., post pandemic), I'm planning to organize a Food52 potluck for Boulder County members. I live in the Prospect New Town neighborhood in Longmont. (Weld, Broomfield and Larimer County residents also welcome!)

    I suggested and organized the very first Food52 potluck, anywhere, way back in December 2009 - about when I posted this soup recipe! - in the SF Bay Area. I'm really looking forward to getting to know Boulder area Food52ers, too. You (and anyone else in the area) can reach me at antoniajames @ gmail . ;o)
     
    Alicia November 16, 2020
    My father first made this soup for us when my daughter was an infant, and we come back to it every winter. I'm not typically a big fan of lentil soup, but this one is SUCH a winner! We've tried it with various sausages and various greens, and it's a hit every time.
     
    Elle R. May 20, 2020
    Someone in our CSA shared this recipe with me and I am so glad she did. The only changes I make is I use ground sausage (from our CSA) and kale instead of spinach. My husband, 4 year old, 18 month old, and myself all love this soup! We make it often. Thanks for the recipe!
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames May 21, 2020
    Thank you, Elle! So glad your whole family likes this. I started making it when my boys were small, like yours. They are now grown up, but it is still one of their favorites, and something they both now make in their own kitchens. The addition of ketchup was inspired by one of their favorite books, "Mrs. Pig's Bulk Buy," by Mary Rayner (which is mostly about ketchup). Get it from your library, if you don't have it. When you think about it, of course kids love ketchup, as it is quite likely the most complex food that most kids eat, being tangy (acid/vinegar), sweet and salty all at once. ;o)
     
    ann H. May 13, 2020
    I finally organized all my favorite recipes and somehow this recipe was one that had fallen by the wayside.
    Now that I have a whole new system of organization, this will be on my monthly rotation.
    It really is a great soup, and I follow the recipe precisely, except that I grate the carrots instead of dicing.
    I made it a couple days ago and my husband loved it.
    Thanks for sharing this recipe.
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames May 13, 2020
    You're welcome, Ann, and thanks so much for your kind words. Stay well. ;o)
     
    food999$ May 9, 2020
    Antonia, thanks for a terrific recipe. I’ve had this pinned for a long time and have made it several times with all different kinds of chicken sausages; the garlicky ones are my favorites. Tonight, all I’ve got is some smoked turkey sausage and I’m going for it—it’s 37 degrees and snowing on May 9th and we’re stuck at home like everyone else. Comforting soup is just the thing. The recipe is outstanding; thank you.
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames May 13, 2020
    Thank you, food999$. I'm so glad you like this. I use all different kinds of sausage in it, too. That smoked turkey sausage sounds delicious. That reminds me . . . I have some kielbasa in my freezer that I should use for my next batch. Take care and stay well! ;o)
     
    Sinamen78 April 9, 2020
    Does it say when to remove the bay leaves ?
     
    Kt4 April 9, 2020
    There's an old wives tale that the person who gets the Bay leaf in their serving will have good luck.
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames April 9, 2020
    Take them out right before serving - or before you add the spinach, which may be a bit easier - it doesn't matter which. ;o)
     
    ctgal February 3, 2020
    This was perfect! I didn't change a thing, which is unusual for me. The red wine vinegar was the perfect touch, and I added it to my bowl of soup each time I had one. My husband isn't much of a vegetable fan and is not that fond of lentils either. He ate it grudgingly, but now there's more for me! Thank you for a great recipe.
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames February 4, 2020
    Thank you, ctgal. So glad you like it. ;o)
     
    Julieek April 29, 2019
    I adore this soup and so do my kids! I make this about once every two weeks over the winter and send the leftovers to school with my kids in a thermos. This is a family favorite! Although the ingredient list is long, it doesn't require many exotic fresh ingredients. I always keep single servings of wine in my pantry and frozen spinach in the freezer. Thanks, Antonia!
     
    Maggie March 14, 2019
    THIS SOUP IS SO GOOD. I ended up finding merguez sausage at my butcher and it was absolutely wonderful. I've already sent it to two friends! MAKE THIS SOUP NOW!
     
    cosmiccook March 8, 2019
    Just made this again last week for Lundi Gras parade party. Everyone loved it. I added more herbs, spices, and leftover wine--and whatever I needed to get rid of in my fridge. Parm rinds, fennel, poblano & bell peppers, leeks all went in as well. My husband has trouble digesting legumes/beans and he likes this soup. It was perfect for a cold parade day! I also added a little fish sauce, tomato powder & Trader Joe's Mushroom Umami. All our guests loved it! I'd like to see the links as well from the reviewers who weren't wowed.
     
    Tumblingdice March 8, 2019
    ooh Mushroom Umami! I must get some!!
     
    Tumblingdice March 8, 2019
    I printed this recipe a few years ago and finally made it last night so I could share with friends on a getaway weekend. I did this because my husband won't eat lentils (his list is long and annoying) and if I didn't care for it I'm stuck eating the whole pot by myself. Now I'm not wanting to share it with anyone- it's that good. Haha just kidding. Seriously, to the reviewers who weren't wowed: please give me links to some of your wow recipes! I try so many different things from all over the internet only to throw the printout away because I'm so often not wowed at all. Thank you, thank you for a true keeper.
     
    cosmiccook December 31, 2019
    Round of applause to Antonia James on the 10 year anniversary for this recipe! I'm making it tomorrow for NYD 2020! This time I'm using a high quality Italian sausage--although I wish I could get some Toulouse sausage. Using Rancho Gordo's French lentils--keeping fingers crossed they are as superb as the reviewers said. Thank you Antonia for your wonderful contribution--its definitely a classic.
     
    Soo J. February 24, 2019
    I made it exactly as written with the exception of the Italian sausage - I used bulk instead of cased sausages. I was a little concerned when all my water was gone during the lentil step, maybe that's normal? I added the dash if red wine vinegar before eating. It pushed the recipe from good for now to a definite keeper!
     
    HRH January 17, 2019
    AJ, I love this soup so much. It was cold and snowy the other day, so I just had to make it! I used tomato paste in place of the ketchup, but balanced it with a little vinegar. I read your "wordy" version, (which is quite charming) and the little tips along the way are fabulous. Why did it never occur to me, to set the kettle of water on to heat while I was cooking other things? So efficient!
     
    Mel A. November 2, 2018
    This soup is fantastic. I'm new to lentils and this was approachable and delicious! I used hot italian sausage and broke it up into big chunks (since that's what I had on hand). It might have changed the aesthetic slightly but I still thought it was fantastic. Thank you!
     
    Jen October 20, 2018
    If I could make this soup every day, I would. Truly delicious and warming especially during chilly autumn days! One of my go-to meals.
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames October 23, 2018
    Thanks, Jen. So glad you like it. Indeed, I'm honored that it's one of your go-to meals. ;o)
     
    Anna March 19, 2018
    This was a nice soup but I didn't find it as amazing as most people who commented thought it was. There was an undertone of flavor to it that I didn't find too appealing... I think it may have been the ketchup which we found a bit weird in a soup I guess.
     
    Gwendolyn March 13, 2018
    Stuck at home today during another New England blizzard and had all the ingredients on hand to make a vegetarian version using Trader Joe's faux italian sausage. It came out great. The red wine adds a nice layer of flavor to the broth and the ketchup gives it some additional sweetness to contrast the saltiness of the sausage. I will definitely make this agin. Thanks for sharing!
     
    Analida B. February 22, 2018
    This soup sounds fantastic and I can't wait to try it. I have a Moroccan style Harira lentil soup recipe that is similar without the meat: https://ethnicspoon.com/moroccan-chickpea-and-lentil-soup-harira/
     
    MBE February 15, 2018
    Yum indeed! Didn't have any Italian sausage on hand so used the Jimmy Dean original pork sausage I had in the freezer and added some fennel seed and red pepper flakes. The only other adjustment I made was to use balsamic vinegar in place of red wine vinegar at the table. The best part is that the leftovers just keep getting better!
     
    Megan February 12, 2018
    Yum. I remember when this won, but only just got around to making it. I used kielbasa for the sausage and kale for the greens, but otherwise kept everything the same. I used my instant pot and from the time I walked into the kitchen to when I was sitting down to eat was a little over an hour. I love that this recipe can be prepped as you cook- very efficient. In the instant pot, I first browned the sausage while I chopped the onions, removed the sausage and added the onions and garlic, chopped the carrots and celery while those got soft, etc. I put the beans in dry- no precooking. I used 6 cups of liquid (4 cups broth, 2 cups water). Set it for 15 minutes on high pressure then 5 minutes of natural release and then quick release. Put it back on saute and stirred in the kale (I used more than 2 cups because I had a lot to use up), parsley, and ketchup. I needed to add a bit more water to loosen it up. So delicious! Don't forget the vinegar! Next time I will play around with even less cooking time because what I did was plenty. I'm not sure how much time the instant pot really saves, but it is hands off and allowed me to do a load of dishes and wipe down the kitchen before eating. Oh and I did it all with a fussy 2 month old strapped to my front. :) Thank you for this recipe!
     
    Author Comment
    AntoniaJames February 12, 2018
    Megan, thank you. I love it when my recipes make people happy. ;o) P.S. I love the image of your making it with your 2-month old strapped to your front . I remember well those "fussy 2 month old" days.