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Lentil Soup with Sausage is one of those feel-good soup recipes that almost everyone enjoys. It’s a hearty soup that is perfect for cooler weather, but that also makes sense to eat year-round. My version is very vegetable-forward and chunky, with loads of protein and nutrition from all of the beans and veggies, including mushrooms, spinach, carrots, celery, onions and tomato. And, the addition of Italian sausage adds a beautiful richness!
I grew up eating this Lentil Soup with Sausage. It was a little different every time we had it, depending on what we had on hand in terms of types of vegetables, lentils or sausage. But, each time it was so delicious. Lentils are one of those perfect foods, in my humble opinion. Filled with protein and nutrition, they are so satisfying, versatile and easy to cook. They don’t require soaking overnight or long cooking times like many other beans, so they are a great option for a relatively last minute dish. It’s always a good idea to keep lentils in your pantry for this reason.
While this soup recipe has a healthy list of ingredients, almost all of the prep can be done a day in advance. Once the vegetables are ready and chopped, the soup is extremely straightforward to make and just requires a bit of sauté and simmer time. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I do and make it over and over again! Enjoy!
Great for New Year’s!
If you’d like to usher in the New Year like they do in Italy, but cannot get your hands on the traditional cotechino sausage served on the last day of every year, this Lentil Soup with Sausage is a great, one-pot alternative. Lentils are believed to bring good luck and prosperity throughout the new year because they resemble coins. The lentils are traditionally served with slices of rich and thick cotechino sausage, that are also said to resemble coins. While I completely recognize that this is not the traditional lentils with cotechino, I admit to having made and served this many, many times for both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. It’s just something to consider . . .
To make Lentil Soup with Sausage, we will be using the following ingredients:
- Lentils: I love to use either Umbrian lentils (a.k.a., lenticchie di Castelluccio) or French lentils for this soup, as they are firm, hold their shape really well and have a wonderful texture once cooked. But, you can also use brown lentils in this recipe. Brown lentils will likely take a bit less time to cook and require less liquid, so reduce the amount of broth in the recipe by about 1 cup or so.
- Italian Sausage: Sausage adds a beautiful richness, heartiness and incredible flavor to the soup. I generally use sweet Italian sausage in this recipe, but feel free to use hot if you’d prefer.
- Mushrooms and Spinach: This is a very hearty, veggie-forward lentil soup with loads of nutrition from all the vegetables. Mushroom and spinach are natural accompaniments to lentils and work so well here, adding loads of flavor and texture. I use fresh spinach in this recipe, but have used frozen spinach successfully dozens of times.
- Red Wine: The red wine adds an element of acid and also an earthy note, both complementing the other flavors in the soup. Be sure to use a dry (i.e., not sweet) red wine, such as chianti or merlot.
- Canned Diced Tomatoes: Adds umami (savoriness) and a depth of flavor to the soup. For convenience, I suggest a diced tomato for this recipe. But, you can definitely start with canned whole tomatoes and hand-crush them. I do not suggest tomato puree for this recipe as it doesn’t have the desired texture.
- Garlic, Yellow Onions, Carrots and Celery: These ingredients are important components in building a strong base of flavor in many soups, and also add texture and nutrition!
- Broth (chicken or vegetable or both): Homemade is always preferred. If purchased, I suggest a low- or no-sodium version. (Regular varieties are laden with sodium and it is always better for you to control the amount of salt in the final product!)
- Herbs: Dried oregano, dried basil and bay leaves all contribute a unique character to the soup.
- Olive Oil: Used to sauté the vegetables and caramelize the tomato paste. In addition, I suggest drizzling each bowl of soup with some very high-quality finishing olive oil.
- Pecorino Romano Cheese: Adds sharpness and saltiness to the finished soup – in a good way!
A complete and detailed list of ingredients with amounts and instructions is included in the recipe below.
Step-By-Step, Pro-Tips included!
Here are the main steps for how to make Lentil Soup with Sausage:
- Prep and measure all ingredients. Be sure to rinse or peel all vegetables before using.
- PRO-TIP: Feel free to coarsely chop the onions, carrots, celery and garlic in a food processor to save time. In addition, to save time when cooking, prep the vegetables in advance and store them in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator for up to one day.
- PRO-TIP: Whenever cooking with lentils or any bean, inspect them in a bowl or on a cutting board for any hard rocks or debris.
- Brown sausage in pot, then remove. Then, cook onions, celery, carrots, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook until vegetables have softened a bit.
- Move vegetables to one side of pot, then add tomato paste and caramelize it for about 30 seconds. Add wine and deglaze, loosening and scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pot. Add broth, tomatoes, mushrooms, lentils, salt, black pepper, dried herbs, bay leaves and reserved sausage and stir until all ingredients are well-combined.
- PRO-TIP: If you can’t find French or Umbrian lentils (a.k.a., Castelluccio lentils), brown lentils can be used. If using brown lentils, you can reduce the amount of broth by 1 cup. Also, note that different lentils take different lengths of time to cook, so adjust the simmering time accordingly and check the lentils every 5 to 10 minutes if you are not sure.
- Simmer the mixture, partially covered, until the lentils and all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add additional liquid if you want a brothier soup. Once the lentils are tender, stir in spinach and cook for another 2 minutes, then turn off heat.
- Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and a light drizzle of high-quality olive oil.
- PRO-TIP: The soup gets better as it sits, so it is a great option to make ahead of time. It does, however, tend to get thicker as it sits, so, you may want to add some water when reheating. That’s it!
Recipe Variations for Lentil Soup with Sausage
This Lentil Soup with Sausage is pretty perfect as is, but here are a few ideas for simple twists:
- Lighten it and Make it Plant-Based! If you’d like to reduce the overall fat (and animal) content of this recipe, just leave out the sausage and cheese–an easy modification yielding a delicious, 100% plant-based soup!
- Make it Brothier: This is a hearty and thick soup that could be made brothier just by adding additional both, to your liking.
What to Serve With Lentil Soup with Sausage
Lentil Soup with Sausage is a hearty, filling soup that doesn’t need much to accompany it. Serve it with some crusty pane di casa or garlic bread and you have a perfect meal!
In a smaller portion, this Lentil Soup would pair nicely with a mixed green salad or sandwich for lunch or a light dinner.
Kitchen Tools & Cookware for Lentil Soup with Sausage
To make this Lentil Soup with Sausage recipe, you will need the following:
- Measuring cups and spoons
- Multiple bowls to hold prep
- Cutting board with non-slip mat underneath (I use shelf liner)
- Sharp chef’s knife
- Vegetable peeler
- Can opener
- Cheese grater (optional)
- Large pot or Dutch oven to make soup
- Large spoon to stir soup
- Serving ladle
More Great Recipes to Try
If you’ve tried this recipe or any other recipe on the blog, please let me know how it went in the comments below — I love hearing from you!
Lentil Soup with Sausage
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 8 ounces hot or sweet Italian sausage, casings removed
- 1 cup small diced yellow onions
- ½ cup small diced celery
- ½ cup small diced carrots
- 2 Tbsp chopped garlic
- ⅛ tsp crushed red pepper
- 2 Tbsp tomato paste
- ½ cup dry red wine, such as chianti or merlot
- 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
- 1 (15 ounce) can diced tomatoes
- 8 ounces white mushrooms, rough chopped
- ½ cup French or Umbrian lentils, picked through for stones and rinsed, about 4 ounces (See Note.)
- 1 tsp salt (or to taste)
- ½ tsp ground black pepper
- ½ tsp dried oregano
- ½ tsp dried basil
- 2 bay leaves
- 5 ounces fresh baby spinach, rough chopped
- Extra-virgin olive oil, for serving
- Grated Pecorino Romano cheese, for serving
- Prep all ingredients according to specifications above. Place the lentils in a bowl and look for any stones or debris and discard. Rinse the lentils well.
- Brown sausage: Heat oil in a 6-quart (or larger) pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add sausage and cook for about 6 to 8 minutes, or until it has browned. Break up sausage into bite-sized pieces while stirring. Remove sausage from pot and set aside.
- Reduce heat to medium. Then add onions, celery, carrots, garlic and crushed red pepper and cook for about 4 minutes, or until vegetables have softened a bit, stirring occasionally.
- Move vegetables to one side of pot. Then, add tomato paste and cook it for about 30 seconds. Add wine and stir to deglaze, loosening and scraping up any browned bits on bottom of pot.
- Add broth, tomatoes, mushrooms, lentils, salt, black pepper, dried herbs, bay leaves and reserved sausage and stir until all ingredients are well-combined.
- Cover pot and bring mixture to a boil. Then, immediately reduce heat to a simmer and simmer, partially covered, for about 25 to 30 minutes or until the lentils and all vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Add additional liquid if you want a brothier soup.
- Once the lentils are tender, reduce heat to low and remove the bay leaves. Then, add spinach and cook for another 2 minutes while stirring. Taste and adjust seasonings, then turn off heat.
- Ladle soup into bowls and top with grated Pecorino Romano cheese and a light drizzle of high-quality olive oil. Buon Appetito!
- If you can’t find French or Umbrian lentils (a.k.a., Castelluccio lentils), brown lentils can be used. If using brown lentils, you can reduce the amount of broth by 1 cup.
- Whenever cooking with lentils or any bean, inspect them in a bowl or on a cutting board for any hard rocks or debris and be sure to discard.
- Also, note that different lentils take different lengths of time to cook, so adjust the simmering time accordingly and check the lentils every 5 to 10 minutes if you are not sure.
- To save time when cooking, prep the vegetables in advance and store them in a zip-lock bag in the refrigerator for up to one day.
- Whole tomatoes can be used in place of diced tomatoes; hand-crush the tomatoes prior to adding them to the pot.
- Frozen spinach can be used in place of fresh. Just be sure to defrost it prior to adding to the soup.
- The soup gets better as it sits, so it is a great option to make ahead of time. It does, however, tend to get thicker as it sits, so, you may want to add some water when reheating.
- This soup freezes really well! Make a large batch, portion it into containers and freeze for up to two months to enjoy down the road.
- Don’t forget to drizzle the finished dish with some high quality extra-virgin olive oil for an additional hit of flavor and richness.