First Soup of the Season

I love autumn in Chicago. The leaves gently change colors from vibrant greens to firey reds, oranges and yellows as they scatter across streets, sidewalks and lawns, leaving trees bare and bracing for winter. This year, we’ve been lucky enough to squeeze in a few unseasonably 70+ degree days in October that have made this fall a real treat! But winter is coming – hopefully not too soon! – and like any good food-lover, I’ve been prepping my soup pot.

For the first soup of the season, we chose a hearty Lentil Sausage soup that’s thick with flavor and oh-so filling! We used a recipe that R had made before from (who else?) the great Ina Garten. With a few modifications for my dietary concerns – no red meat, no pork – we basically followed the recipe. Oh, and we halved the recipe because all of The Contessa’s soups are designed feed an army. (Not that I can blame her. I mean, if I were The Barefoot Contessa, I know I’d have a million friends too, banging on the door every time they smelled something cooking in the kitchen. I just don’t have that many people to feed.)

In general, I’m usually hesitant about lentil soups. Nothing against lentils, I love them in salads, but they can often be bland and dull. This soup is not dull. The onions and leeks combine with carrots and celery for a rich, flavorful base that just builds from there. A good chicken stock and a nice, spicy sausage really put this recipe over the top, and the splash of red wine at the end adds a nice depth of flavor. I found a smoked turkey kielbasa at Trader Joe’s that worked perfectly and was really delicious! We also had green and yellow lentils so we mixed them. It ended up being very pretty, but nontraditional.

Even halving the recipe, we still have soup for days. A good ladle or two makes a very filling lunch or dinner – you’ll be surprised at how hearty it is. It’s also quite budget friendly! One day of simple groceries will feed you for multiple meals. (Get more budget-friendly recipes here!)

What soups are you looking forward to making this season? If you have a favorite, submit it to Recipe4Living’s Fall Soup Recipe Contest and you could win a new soup terrine! Get more details here.

Lentil and Sausage Soup


1/2 lb. French green lentils
1/8 C. olive oil, plus extra for serving
2 c. diced yellow onions (1 1/2 large)
2 C. chopped leeks, white and light green parts only (1-2 leeks)
1/2 Tbs. minced garlic (1 large clove)
1/2 Tbs. kosher salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 Tbs. minced fresh thyme leaves
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 C. medium diced celery (4 stalks)
1 1/2 C. medium diced carrots (2-3 carrots)
1 1/2 quarts chicken stock
1/8 C. tomato paste
1 lb. kielbasa, cut in 1/2 lengthwise and sliced 1/3-inch thick
2 Tbs. dry red wine or red wine vinegar
Freshly grated Parmesan, for serving


In a small bowl, cover lentils with boiling water and let sit 15 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat olive oil and saute onions, leeks, garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin for 20 minutes, or until vegetables are translucent and tender. Add celery and carrots and let cook another 10 minutes.

Add chicken stock, tomato paste and drained lentils. Cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 1 hour. Check seasonings and adjust as needed.

Add kielbasa and red wine until kielbasa is warmed through. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and some grated parmesan.

  • Dee

    It’s been raining every night here so I’ve been seeking comfort at the bottom of my soup bowl. This is definitely going to come in handy :)

  • Erik

    So the fact that you cut the recipe in half means that you can “halve” your soup and eat it too? (Okay, I know that was a pretty bad joke).
    Anyway, it looks really good, and I love the photos. Are there any other sausages you recommend with this recipe?

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