The weather and holiday season call for cozy, body-warming food. What is better than a hot bowl of soup snuggled on the couch while it rains (or snows!) outside? The smell, taste, and warmth create instant memories that stick to your bones just like the hearty broth. This Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup is something I tried out to use up some of my Thanksgiving day leftovers. It can be made with Italian sausage, chicken, turkey, lamb, beef, or even meatless. If your tummy is still as full as mine is from last Thursday, try leaving out the meat for a healthier version. The lentils will still provide richness since they easily soak up the flavor they are cooked in. 1 cup of lentils also provides 90% of recommended daily folate and 63% of needed fiber.
The high in East Tennessee was 48 degrees today (I’m writing this on November 26th). Tonight my weather app says it’s 26 outside. It sure felt like 26 when I sprinted to the mailbox with no jacket and bare feet! There’s no way I can get away with a sweatshirt and jeans this winter. This California girl has some things to learn! I need to buy some serious winter apparel or I’ll have hypothermia come February. But I do have to say how fun it is to wear boots and scarves for their intended purpose! It’s not a fashion statement out here, I legitimately need them! These cold days are why I need this yummy lentil soup in my life.
Start by chopping up onion, carrots, and celery. 1 cup of each should be plenty but I always add extra.
Pour these into a stock pot with 2 tablespoons of oil over medium heat. Let them cook a few minutes until they are softened.
Once the veggies are tenderized, add your meat. My hubby loves Italian sausage and I don’t make it very often, so I decided to surprise him! This lentil soup can also be made with turkey leftovers, chicken, ground lamb, you name it. Sometimes I even go meatless and add extra lentils.
If you’re going for meat, add it in here and crumble it so it can cook evenly. If you have turkey leftovers, add in the neck and innards. They can add flavor to the soup as it cooks but can be removed before serving. Let the meat brown with the veggies until all the pink is gone.
Once browned, add 1 and 1/2 cups of lentils. Any kind is fine. I used brown lentils. Toss in a few bay leaves as well.
Now pour in 6 cups of chicken stock. Here is a good place to use leftover turkey drippings and broth from Thanksgiving. If you don’t have 6 cups worth of stock, that’s fine. Make up the difference with chicken broth or water, but don’t use more than 2 cups of water or you will lose the flavor. Toss in 1 teaspoon of each: kosher salt, black pepper, parsley, and oregano. Bring all of these ingredients to a boil.
Once boiling, reduce the heat to medium/low and cover the pot. Let it simmer for 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
While the soup is simmering, pull out a 9 oz bag of spinach and pull off any lengthy stems. Of course you can leave the stems, but I hate getting those things stuck in my teeth and I find that they create a hint of bitterness.
Once the lentils are tender, put the spinach in and stir it around. It will wilt in about a minute or two. When that happens, turn the heat off and fish out the bay leaves.
Now ladle it into your favorite bowl and slurp it up! I also make 30 Minute Chicken Tortilla Soup and 4 Cheese Ravioli and Kale Soup this time of year. Both are very comforting and always warm my bones. For even more soup ideas, check out my Slurpable Soups Board on Pinterest. Stay warm and Happy Thanksgiving!
Italian Sausage and Lentil Soup
- 2 Tbsp oil
- 1 cup diced onion
- 1 cup chopped carrot
- 1 cup chopped celery
- 8 oz Italian sausage or other meat
- 6 cups chicken broth
- 1 and 1/2 cup dried lentils
- 4 bay leaves
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp oregano
- 1 tsp parsley
- 9 oz baby spinach
- Heat oil in a stock pot and add onion, carrots, and celery. Cook 5 minutes.
- Add meat, cook until crumbled and brown.
- Add broth, lentils, bay leaves, and seasonings. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat and cover. Let simmer 20 minutes or until lentils are tender.
- Add spinach. Stir to wilt.
- Remove bay leaves and serve.