Sausage Lentil Soup made with dried lentils, sausage, and lots of veggies is a hearty, healthy meal that's ready in less than 60 minutes.
This easy lentil soup made with sausage is one of our go to pantry meals since I always have a bag of dried lentils in the pantry and some sausage in the freezer. It can be made with any combination of sausage, vegetables, and spices you like for a filling, easy meal that feeds a crowd.
Lentils have always been a staple in my pantry and lately, I have been using them more than ever. They are nutrient dense, filling, packed with plant-based protein, affordable, and last forever in a cool, dry pantry. Plus they soak up flavor making them perfect for so many different recipes but especially for this Lentil Sausage Soup.
The key to making this lentil soup really delicious is the sausage. The spices and seasoning in the sausage flavor the soup with needing to add tons of extra ingredients. For this reason, you'll want to choose a sausage that has a lot of flavor. Normally I use spicy Italian sausage since I love the subtle heat the spicy sausages adds to the soup.
The rest of the soup can be made with pretty much any combination of vegetables, broth, and spices you like. Think of it as a clean out your pantry style lentil soup. You can use fresh or frozen vegetables, you can add canned beans or rice, you can swap in different styles of sausage or other proteins. Plus it freezes well so you can make up a large batch and freeze it for future meals.
How to Make Sausage Lentil Soup
The sausage is the key ingredient to adding tons of flavor to this soup without lots of ingredients. To maximize that flavor, start by removing the sausage from the casing. Just make a slit through the casing and then you can remove it. Brown the sausage until it is cooked through. Normally you won't need extra oil because the sausage has enough fat on its own but you could add some olive oil if needed.
Next up you want to add your onions, carrots, celery, and red pepper. They will soak up all of that flavor from the browned sausage. Cook them down for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften and the onion begins to become translucent.
Add the garlic, bay leaf, Italian spices, and red pepper flakes if using. Cook for about one minute until the garlic is fragrant.
Now it is time for the dried lentils. Add them to the pot, give them a good stir, and then add in the chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and let cook for about 40-45 minutes until the lentils are tender.
Stir in the spinach until it wilts. Then taste and season well with salt and pepper. Serve with a nice green salad and some crusty bread.
Easy Pantry Swaps and Tips
- Sausage: Any type sausage will work for this lentil soup. Normally I like to start with raw sausage since it adds the most flavor, but sliced cooked sausage will work as well. If you don't have sausage, you could just use ground meat (chicken, turkey, beef, or pork) and add these Italian sausage spices to mimic the same flavor.
- Onion: If you don't have an onion, you could substitute leeks or shallots. You will want about 1 cup. You could also use about 1 tbsp of onion powder or 1/4 cup of dehydrated onion.
- Carrots, celery, red bell pepper: You can use any combination of fresh or frozen veggies in place of the carrots, celery, and red bell pepper. Add heartier veggies just after cooking the sausage. If you are using quicker cooking veggies (or most frozen veggies), add them in the last 10-15 minutes of cooking so that they don't get mushy.
- Garlic: If you don't have fresh garlic, you could use garlic powder, minced garlic (the kind in oil), or dehydrated garlic. Plan on 1/2 teaspoon of powder for each clove or 1 teaspoon of minced or dehydrated garlic.
- Bay leaf: You can leave this out if you don't have any bay leaves. You could add 1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano or dried thyme in its place.
- Italian seasoning: If you don't have Italian seasoning, just add any combination of oregano, thyme, rosemary, parsley, and marjoram.
- Red pepper flakes: If you want a spicier soup, add some red pepper flakes. You could substitute with a fresh jalapeno, chipotle pepper in adobo, or chili powder. If you use chipotles or chili powder, it will also add a smoky flavor.
- Lentils: Traditionally this soup is made with dried brown or green lentils. Green or yellow split peas would also work. I wouldn't recommend using red lentils since they break down when cooked. If you don't have lentils, you could make these with any type of canned beans.
- Chicken broth: Any type of broth will work for this soup. You can also use water and bouillon.
- Fresh spinach: If you don't have fresh, you can use frozen spinach. You could also add a heartier green like kale or chard but add it with the other vegetables so it has plenty of time to cook. You can also leave this out or substitute another vegetable like zucchini, green beans, or cauliflower. Just add them 10-15 minutes before the soup is ready so it has time to cook.
How to freeze lentil soup?
Sausage lentil soup can be frozen for 3-4 months in an airtight container. Make sure to let it cool completely before freezing and leave a little space in the container since the soup will expand when it freezes.
There are lots of ways to customize this soup to make it your own.
- Add some canned, diced tomatoes to the soup. Drain off the juice and add the tomatoes in when you add the spinach.
- For more tomato flavor, add 1-2 tablespoons of tomato paste into the soup when you add the garlic.
- For a vegetarian soup, use a vegetarian sliced sausage or crumbled meat product.
- Try it with different types of sausages to change the flavor.
- Swap in whatever vegetables you have on hand to use what's in your fridge or freezer.
- Make the soup heartier with the addition of some canned white cannellini beans.
- Top your finished soup with some pesto and Parmesan cheese.
- Make an extra spicy soup by adding a couple of fresh chopped jalapenos instead of the bell pepper.
How to Make Carraba's Sausage Lentil Soup?
If you love the Lentil Sausage soup at Carraba's, you can easily make this soup taste similar. Start by adding about 1 cup of diced ham to the sausage. Then add 2 tablespoons of tomato paste and 1-2 chopped fresh tomatoes when you add the garlic. You'll have a Carraba's copycat.
Can I make this in the slow cooker?
You can make lentil and sausage soup in the slow cooker. Start by browning the sausage. Add the onions, carrots, celery, and red pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes and then add the garlic, bay leaf, and spices. Cook for 1 minute and then add to the slow cooker with the lentils and broth. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 4 hours. Add the spinach in the last ten minutes.
Sausage Lentil Soup
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- 1 lb lean turkey sausage (mild or spicy)
- 1 onion
- 2 carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tbsp Italian seasoning
- 1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (options, more to taste)
- 1 lb dry lentils
- 6 cups chicken broth (or vegetable)
- 6 cups fresh spinach (or frozen)
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* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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