One-Pot Wonders

Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Winter's Night

December 28, 2009
64 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Prep time 20 minutes
  • Cook time 1 hour 15 minutes
  • Serves 4 with plenty of leftovers
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

What You'll Need
  • 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)
  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.

  • Bevi
  • Midge
  • Dirk Shumaker
    Dirk Shumaker
  • ellemmbee
  • Ann Marie Grutta
    Ann Marie Grutta

Recipe by: AntoniaJames

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347 Reviews

Ro R. April 25, 2024
Second time making this, last time huge hit. Forgot to add the red wine vinegar until halfway through our first bowl. Doh! Remember the vinegar!! It's like the Fifth Element of love.
Bevi January 4, 2024
I made this soup today. Thank you thank you thank you AJ!
Midge January 4, 2024
I remembered this soup today when I was trying to think of something to make that didn’t require a trip to the store, and I am so glad. I only had one Italian sausage and some sad looking veggies but it still turned out wonderfully. Thank you AJ! Hope you’re well.
Dirk S. November 13, 2023
Excellent, fast, easy. Added a couple of tablespoons of harissa….
LaurenP November 5, 2023
This soup is perfect for cold weather! It’s delicious.
amanda_k. May 10, 2023
This soup was super tasty! I use 1 lb. of ground Italian sausage, Marsala cooking wine instead of red, Italian seasoning instead of marjoram. I also only had red lentils so that’s what I used. So, I basically changed the recipe, but like another person said, it is a super forgiving recipe. It was wonderful with bread and butter. I did not add any extra salt, and it wasn’t needed.
RobertCollins February 24, 2023
I felt that it would be easy to over shoot the salt so be careful. More acid would be welcome but that said, pretty good. Better next day.
emcsull October 12, 2023
red wine vinegar at the end !
ellemmbee February 16, 2023
I made this tonight as ice and snow are falling outside. I used 1# of peppery Italian sausage, Rancho Gordo green lentils, and baby kale instead of spinach. The house smelled wonderful and the stew-y soup was a big hit. The marjoram is a perfect herb for this, and I chuckled at the addition of ketchup. It’s good! So glad that with just two of us, there are leftovers!
Ann M. February 6, 2023
I made this yesterday, using bulk fresh chicken sausage my husband accidentally defrosted, and homemade chicken stock. The vinegar was a delightful add. It was delicious!
Mntbreeze November 19, 2022
Such a warm flavored soup! I ended up making it into more of a stew as I used two pounds of spicy Italian sausage. I used probably 4 cups of spinach because I had it and my splash of vinegar was more of a pour. But it turned out absolutely great!
BethAS March 21, 2022
I liked the flavors. Used Italian seasoning instead of marjoram. The vinegar adds brightness.
MaryanneFromSE December 12, 2021
This is the perfect warm winter soup. I used spicy sausage to give it a kick, and I doubled the celery because I wanted to use my celery up. 10 out of 10 soup stars!
angievb254 November 28, 2021
This is the perfect, warm, hearty soup for a cold fall or winter’s night!
Bevi October 19, 2021
I made your delicious soup for the first time this fall season, AJ. Last winter I sent this soup around to friends and family who needed a lift during a very trying year. At some point I started to print out the recipe and tape it to the lids of the plastic containers I used to transport this hearty, heavenly soup. I was delighted that the vast amount of Swiss chard that grows in my garden adapts well in place of spinach. Many thanks, yet again, for a wonderful recipe.
cookinalong October 2, 2021
This is no doubt redundant, since I've already posted a review. But I just wanted to repeat how wonderful and versatile this recipe is. I've lost count of how many times I've made this...for new mothers, overwhelmed mothers, overworked healthcare workers, family, friends...Always to rave reviews. Your talent and generosity continue to spread and bless all who eat (or prepare) this! Thank you again!
AntoniaJames October 6, 2021
You're welcome, cookinalong, and thank you, too, for your kind words. I almost didn't post this recipe, because I wasn't sure it was worthy of the Food52 community's high standards. I'm so glad I did. It's nice to know that something one has created has been enjoyed by so many. ;o)
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.
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)
cosmiccook October 3, 2021
What a clever idea! Thanks Antonia for all your recipes and suggestions. I love being a "food technician" for you creative peeps!
Karen January 4, 2024
Hi Antonia! I can’t believe you live in Prospect — my family rented a house there when we first moved to Colorado and now live in Creekside…a whopping 1 mile away😊. Small world!! I’m wondering if a Food52 potluck ever came to fruition? I would happily engage!
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!
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.
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.
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)