This hearty Italian soup, packed with protein, is a great addition to your winter recipe lineup! I didn’t grow up with lentils like a lot of Italians, but my Mom did….eating them all the time. Which is likely why she left them out of her meal plans, she was over them.
But I’m a lentil convert now, thanks to this soup (and maybe my Ma will be again when she sees this)! Don’t be intimidated by the amount of ingredients. They basically all go into a large pot and time will do the rest. I recommend making this over the weekend so you can enjoy it throughout the week – the longer it sits the better it gets.
The following serves 6 (adapted from Food.com and The Italian Table):
- 1 lb bulk mild chicken sausage – if using sausage that’s in a casing, just remove the casing first
- Extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 large carrots, peeled and chopped
- 2 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- 1 tsp dried oregano
- 1 tsp dried basil
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
- 1/2 tsp pepper
- 2 cups dried lentils
- 1 pint fresh, diced tomatoes or a 28 oz can of diced tomatoes
- 6 cups of water or low-sodium chicken stock
- 1-2 Tbsp red wine vinegar (optional)
- Grated parmesan cheese for serving
In a large dutch oven, heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery and garlic and saute until the veggies begin to softened, 3-5 minutes. Season lightly with salt. Next, add the sausage, breaking up with a wooden spoon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through and broken up in little pieces.
Next, add all the spices (parsley, oregano, basil, salt, thyme, pepper flakes and pepper) – stir to combine well and toast for a minute until the spices become fragrant. Add the dried lentils, stir constantly for 2-3 minutes until the lentils are lightly toasted.
Add the tomatoes and all their juices, mix well and scrape up any bits that formed on the bottom of the pan. Finally, add the water or stock, stir to combine and bring to a slow boil. If using water, you can also add a few chicken bouillon cubes for extra flavor (1 cube for each cup of water).
Lower heat, cover and simmer for 1 – 1 and 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. The longer you let it cook, the thicker the soup will become on its own.
Turn off heat, stir in vinegar if desired and adjust salt and pepper if needed. Allow the soup to sit for 5 minutes. Serve with parmesan cheese.