Lentil Stew with Sausage

Photography Credit: Elise Bauer

I’m in serious weather denial. With what seems like the fourth storm this week to hit California (is Noah building his “arky arky” yet?) I’m still puttering around the house in shorts and flip flops, and dreaming of good times in warmer weather.

But there is only so much denying one can do, before the shivering reality sets in, and then it’s time for stew. Lentil stew in this case.

My friend Clara and I were inspired to make this hearty lentil stew today, in the midst of yet another downpour, based on Clara’s family recipe. It’s made with bacon and sausage, a mirepoix of onions, carrots, and celery, and topped with parsley.

Lentil Sausage Stew

The amounts are approximate (except for the liquid to lentil ratio, 6 cups liquid per pound lentils), feel free to experiment, more or less bacon, sausage. We made a double recipe, to make sure that Clara’s family had plenty for leftovers during the week.

Lentil Stew with Sausage Recipe

  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Yield: Serves 4-5

You can easily double or triple the recipe for a larger group or for make ahead leftovers.


  • 1/3 pound of bacon (about 5 thick slices), cut into 1-inch by 1/4-inch strips
  • 1 medium-large yellow or white onion, chopped (about 1 1/4 cups)
  • 2-3 large carrots, diced (2/3 cup)
  • 2-3 large ribs celery, diced (2/3 cup)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced (about 2 teaspoons)
  • 1 pound brown or green dry lentils, rinsed and picked over to remove anything that shouldn't be there (like a small rock for example)
  • 3 cups water
  • 3 cups chicken stock* (can sub water for a total of 6 cups of liquid)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 pound Italian sausage (mild, sweet, or spicy, your choice) or smoked sausage, in links (about 2-3 links)
  • 1 teaspoon sherry vinegar (can sub cider vinegar)
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley, with a little extra for garnish

* If cooking gluten-free, use gluten-free stock.


1 Cook bacon: Heat a large, thick-bottomed pot (6 to 8 quart) on medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until much of the fat has rendered out and the bacon is browned and cooked through, about 5-10 minutes.

Use a slotted spoon to remove bacon from pan to a dish, set aside.

Remove (and reserve for another use) all but 2 Tbsp of bacon fat. (If you discard the excess fat, let cool to solidify first, then discard in the trash. Do not pour down the drain or you will clog the drain.)

2 Sauté carrots, onions, celery, cumin, garlic: Heat the remaining fat on medium high and add the carrots, onions, celery, and cumin. Stirring frequently, scraping up the browned bits at the bottom of the pan, cook until softened, about 5-7 minutes.

Add the garlic and cook a minute more, until fragrant.

3 Add lentils, cooked bacon, stock, water, thyme, bay leaf, simmer: Add back in the cooked bacon, the rinsed lentils, stock, water, thyme, bay leaf. At this point add a teaspoon of salt and some pepper. You will season more to taste later. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook partially covered until lentils are tender, about 40 minutes.

4 Brown sausage links, cut into pieces, add to stew: While the lentils are cooking, heat a frying pan on medium heat. Add the Italian sausage links. Gently cook, browning on all sides, until just cooked through. Remove from pan, let cool enough to handle. Cut into pieces of desired length (1 to 2 inches, or you can just keep whole) and add to stew for the last 10 minutes of cooking.

5 Add sherry vinegar, parsley, salt, pepper: Add sherry vinegar and parsley to stew. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. You may need to add more salt than you expect, especially if you are making the stew with water only and not water and stock.

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Red Lentil Dal here on Simply Recipes

Mexican Red Lentil Stew from Kalyn's Kitchen

Liven Yourself Up Lentil Soup from Heidi of 101 Cookbooks

Moroccan Lentil Stew from Budget Bytes


Showing 4 of 47 Comments

  • Dianne

    Wonderful, wonderful recipe!

    I followed your directions (except I pulled out the bay leaf after about 20 minutes. It was all that I could taste.) My lentils took over an hour to soften up so I ended up adding an additional cup of stock to make up for the loss of liquid due to evaporation.

    I opted to sear/brown smoked sausage that was sliced about 1/3 inch thick rather than use Italian sausage. The searing added another dimension that worked well with this dish.

    This recipe will definitely be a keeper in our household.

  • Sophia

    I just made this, and the flavor is great! I threw in a bunch of chopped kale with the sausage to increase the vegetable in this.

  • A

    I found that this made much more than I was expecting. We have eaten 6 servings and there is still a lot left!

  • Jenn

    Made this tonight after making the Sausage & Cabbage stew last night.. yes, I’m on a soup/stew kick! It was SO good & I didn’t have any bacon so had to leave it out, I can only imagine how good it would be with that added in. I used a full pound of Italian sausage instead & crumbled it up while browning. The only other thing I did differently was to add a full quart of water & a full quart of beef broth & I still ended up adding another quart later on b/c it soaked up so much liquid! Thanks for another great recipe! I will definitely add this to my rotation. I am always looking for italian sausage recipes b/c we stock up on it costco for my hubby’s fav, sausage & peppers.

  • Cathy Weaver

    A hit with my (picky) family.
    I added a little Worcestershire sauce to the finish because I thought it needed a little depth.
    Delicious – and so easy

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