One-Pot Wonders

Lentil and Sausage Soup for a Cold Winter's Night

December 28, 2009
4.4 Stars
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
  • 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
  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
  • Brenda S. Moore
    Brenda S. Moore
  • Elle Rudemiller
    Elle Rudemiller
  • ctgal
  • Julieek

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)

335 Reviews

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!
Author Comment
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.
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)
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!
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)
cosmiccook October 3, 2021
I find as I age (65) I crave more acid--specifically vinegar profiles and Spicer foods. I also don't care for sweets like I did in my young days! Maybe its typical for New Orleanians--we DO love our spices---perhaps we develop resistance to the status quo and require more? My husband though, is the opposite; making it difficult to appease both our taste buds. Love to hear from others on this and how they
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)