Lentil Stew with Sausage

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

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


  • 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


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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  • Kendra Rowey

    I absolutely loved this recipe. I was looking for a stew recipe that packed a lot of protein and substance (as compared to a soup) and this did not disappoint! I used beef steak cubes in place of the sausage and left out the bacon. I also added some onion powder and paprika and a little squeeze of lemon at the end. Oh, and I made this in my instant pot by first sautéing the onions, carrots and celery and then browning the beef cubes. I added the rest of the ingredients and cooked it for 20 minutes using the meat/stew option. I think it could have used only 15-17 minutes, but I’m still happy with how it turned out. Definitely making again! Thanks :)


  • Megan Duffett

    Is there anything that I can replace the Sherry vinegar with? My husband and I aren’t very big drinkers.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Megan! You can substitute the sherry vinegar with cider vinegar. (Also, sherry vinegar is a different product from actually sherry; it’s a vinegar and not an alcoholic beverage. Just so you know!)

  • Veronica

    Question? Wouldn’t adding salt to early to uncooked lentils make them stay relatively hard? I’ve experienced adding salt early to lentils and they never get all the way soft no matter how long I’ve cooked them, so I usually add salt after the lentils are fully cooked. I am going to try this recipe because I love lentils but am concerned about adding the salt to early. From the comments it doesn’t seem like anyone had a problem with this, but Any tips on would be appreciated, Thanks.

    • Emma Christensen

      Hi, Veronica! Emma here, managing editor. Salt and/or acidic ingredients can sometimes slow the cooking of legumes, but lentils that stay hard no matter how long they cook is usually a result of older lentils that are past their prime or cooking the lentils in hard water. Cook’s Illustrated has done extensive testing on this over the years, which is where I learned about this. In any case, salting the lentils in this recipe should be just fine. Hope you make — and like! — the soup!

  • Heather

    This was absolutely delicious! I don’t know why I waited so long to make it from the first time I saw the recipe. It definitely seems like it makes more servings than it says, which is good!


  • emily

    I can’t wait to make this – sounds delicious! Any idea if it would freeze well?


    • Elise Bauer

      Hi Emily, I haven’t tried freezing it but I don’t see any reason why it wouldn’t freeze well!

  • 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


  • Penny

    This turned out to be like a delicious, hearty lentil stew! I had ground Italian sausage, so I rolled it into little meatballs and browned them, and it worked quite nicely. Very rich and flavorful, and kid approved!

  • Laurie

    Made this for dinner tonight – delicious! I doubled the recipe and used hot sausage which I browned and crumbled separately and stirred into the stew during the last ten minutes of cooking. Was a little nervous about the amount of liquid when I first added it, but the stew thickened up perfectly.

  • FrankieB

    I made a lowcarb version of this (Trying to get a handle on my mate’s pre-diabetes!) by substituting black soys in place of the lentils & fresh roasted red/gold peppers in place of the carrots. Like one of the other cooks, I only had chorizo on hand & it worked fine. I also tossed in some sliced mushrooms just because I needed to use them up. What a wonderful, rich stew that fell in line with his dietary restrictions!

  • Monica

    I made this the other night, and it is wonderful and full of flavor. Sometimes I will make a soup or stew and wonder what is missing to take it from ‘pretty good’ to ‘great.’ This was great on the first try, thank you!

  • Valerie

    Wonderful flavor – having a big bowl of this for dinner. Made it this afternoon and the house smells great! Substituted a few things and left out the bay leaf (added dash of allspice) and celery (I don’t care for it), used smoked bacon and spicy sausage. Perfect for a mid-February day. Will make some bread to go with it tomorrow, I think. Thanks for another great recipe! :)

  • Adela

    Just made the lentil stew for dinner, it was a hit with the family. I did not have the bay leaf and used smoked chicken apple sausage. This one is a keeper.


  • Wendy

    This was great, even my bf loved it who is not usually a fan of soups or stews!! Thanks for sharing.

  • Miss Fig

    Love lentils. This was a great version. I agree it needed a bit more seasoning. I liked it better the next day with ditalinis and more chopped carrot & extra vinegar. Thanks! Oh, and the sweet sausage becomes kind of bland after all that cooking, may try spicy next time.

  • Michelle

    mmm, another great feed-me-for-a-week meal. I love stews because they still taste great the next day and the next and maybe the next too. They’re also pretty forgiving to cook. I wasn’t watching, so I ran out of liquid somehow- either cut down the cooking time, lower the heat or add more water. I used curry powder since I didn’t have cumin- cumin def. would have been better, but the curry wasn’t bad- might add more curry next time. The taste wasn’t as strong as I thought it would be (considering the bacon, sausage, and curry powder), but I forgot to season to taste at the end and I may have overdone the veggies in the beginning. I’ve made a curry lentil stew with onions and canned tomato, but I like the idea of the carrot and celery for variety.

    Will try the balsamic vinegar idea! I used sweet basil sausage, but I think spicy sausage would be more tasty. I couldn’t taste the individual flavors, but it blended nicely and now I know what a mirepoix is!

  • Naomi

    Made this lentil soup last night for dinner using dried brown lentils – delicious! Was bordering on almost too salty, but was likely because my I used bouillon cubes for my chicken broth, and they had lots of salt in them. Will definitely make again, and maybe puree some of the soup once it’s finished cooking to make it nice and thick. I will have to see if I can find some French lentils…

  • Devery

    Made this tonight for dinner, and even my non-lentil-loving husband thought it was fab. You’ve posted another winner. Thanks !

  • Joanna Zaremba

    We made your lentil soup a week or so ago, and it was amazing! We doubled it, and my husband and a few of my co-workers enjoyed it. The flavor was great! I had some left over beef stock so I used 1/2 beef stock and 1/2 chicken stock, and for sausage we used turkey kielbasa from Trader Joe’s. It was a perfect combination. This was my first time cooking lentils, and I’m definitely hooked! Thanks for a week of tasty meals!

  • Vicky

    Followed the recipe exactly, and the results were just as everyone promised. Yummy! Will likely add a little more broth and some kale to the leftovers for a very comforting dinner ‘stoup’.

  • Bj

    I saw this recipe last week and made it yesterday. It is perfect and excellent! I wasn’t sure about the vinegar but it does add a wonderful finish. Mine took much more liquid than the recipe states. Thanks for this delicious stew! It will become a favorite for us. The kind of recipe you want to pass on to family and friends.

  • Danielle

    I was SO excited to try this recipe! Perfect for a cold winter day.

    I made a batch with green lentils; it turned into a mushy, chewy mess, and I had to throw out $20 worth of food. What did I do wrong?

    Mushy I can see, but chewy? That’s weird. Lentils get mushy, especially when they are cooked a long time, but if they were chewy, that would indicate they weren’t cooked enough, or maybe not cooked in enough water. So I have no idea what was going on here. Unless you are referring to the sausage being chewy, which of course is how it should be. ~Elise

  • Joy

    This was a perfect starting point for the package of small lentils I picked up last week – thanks for the inspiration! I used smoked beef sausage and sauted it a bit, then simmered it with the lentils, carrots and onions – definitely yum!

  • Allie

    I too live in weather denial…I grew up in the Pacific Northwest and now live in constantly sunny Hawaii. Around mid-October (our hottest month, usually) I get the craving for warm, homey meals in spite of the heat. While it hasn’t been too hot lately, once the stove sparks up you get your own little micro-climate…But this one was worth the sweat (like all the recipes I’ve tried from here)! Thanks!

  • Sue

    Made this for supper tonight and we both loved it. Used balsamic vinegar and Hillshire Farm Lite Smoked Sausage. This was the first time I have ever tried making a lentil dish — won’t be the last!! Thanks for another great recipe.

  • Karen

    This was just….yumm, yummmm….(sorry, too busy chewing.)….AMAZING!! I’ve had lentils in a jar and sausage in the freezer and all the other ingredients on hand except cumin. I added paprika instead and once everything was completed in the fry pan, I put it in the crock pot. Truly delicious. This recipe is a keeper!

  • MB

    Wow! Wow, wow, wow!! The most amazing bowl of steaming comfort. I used chorizo and chucked it in with the bacon, and man was it good!

    Never having cooked lentils before, I overcooked them and they turned out slightly mushy, but the flavour was AWESOME and next time I’ll know to taste-check them.

    Thank you for this brilliant recipe! :)

  • Linda

    I made the recipe using a sausage like Kielbasa, and everything else the same, and it is fabulous. Thanks

  • Cynthia

    I made this recipe last night and it was delicious!!

    I couldn’t find lentils at my corner grocery store (it was WAY too cold here in Winnipeg, Canada to venture any further!!), so I bought split green peas instead and it turned out more like a pea soup then a stew. The flavour was still awesome though, and my roommate loved it! I will definitely make this again, but next time I will actually use lentils…. :-)

    Thanks Elise!

  • Ben

    I made this last night and then I read the comments and realized I forgot to put the vinegar in doh! It turned out great even without the vinegar, though I think I let it simmer too quickly. I also used hot turkey sausage but I think the next time I will either use andouie (sp?) sausage. Great stuff, definitely make this again!

  • Catherine

    I just made this for dinner tonight. Absolutely delicious! I was amazed what a difference the vinegar made to the flavor. I used champagne vinegar and balsamic vinegar (all I had.) Can’t wait to share it with friends.

  • Kim

    Made this last night and it was delicious. I’m not usually one to get as excited about lentil soup as I am about, say, a rich mushroom risotto, but I’m looking forward to lentil soup for dinner tonight! Thanks for the recipe.

  • doris

    I grew up with lentil stew, smoked or fresh pork belly and flour dumplings. What really brought back the memories is your use of vinegar. Guess whats cooking in my kitchen?

  • Katherine @ NightOwlChef

    I like this recipe! It’s very similar to my father’s ancient recipe, except that he uses a ham hock (with bone); I HIGHLY recommend that version.

    I’ve never tried adding sherry to lentil soup before (though it’s essential to seafood bisques, in my opinion). What does it add here? A tang? I’m really curious to try it!

    Sherry vinegar adds just a little tang, you could also use another kind of vinegar or lemon juice. ~Elise

  • Carly

    recently I’ve had to switch to a very limited diet to figure out a persistent food allergy and after falling in love with your recipes I was very depressed. But so far, I’ve found many a recipe of yours that fulfills my requirements and this lentil stew was yet another magnificent creation. I made it this afternoon and everyone fell in love. thank you yet again for another winner, I can always count on you. :)

  • Walter Underwood


    I had a chorizo handy, so I used that and left out the cumin and garlic. I really liked a Mark Bittman recipe from “How to Cook Everything” that added roasted winter squash to lentils, and Hey! we had a butternut squash, so I cubed that small, roasted it (400, 40 minutes) and added it at the end.

    Very nice.


    It might serve 4-5 teenagers. With the squash, it is two full meals for our four person family. Bittman says “serves 4” with a cup of lentils.

  • Andria

    I just made this for dinner and it was delicious!! I only had red lentils so I used those. Since they cook up so quick it only needed about 1/2 the cooking time. Delicious! Thanks for a great recipe. I also squeezed some fresh lemon juice over the top at the end. It reminded me a bit of the lentil soup I had in Turkey.

  • mantha

    This looks yummy. Another ingredient that I have liked in lentil soup or stew is a moderately spicy prepared mustard, a tablespoon or two to a pound of lentils. This gives it the tang and a bit of extra flavor. I have also used a few leftover flavor packets from beef flavor Ramen noodles in the cooking water for flavor and salting, to make a quick “broth” in a pinch.

    The little red lentils make up more like a pea soup, with the individual lentils cooking down to mush, and take much less time. They have a distinct, lovely flavor. I remember once I made up a pot of cream of red lentil soup with finely diced sweet red peppers and herbes de Provence, and almost ate the whole thing myself before everyone else got home.

  • VickiG

    Just made it to use as lunches this week. I used Bledsoe Italian Sausage. It is delicious. This recipe is a keeper. Thanks Elise.

  • Carol Dirner

    I also made a lentil stew last week, and my ingredients looks very similar to yours (however I used what was left of a ham instead of sausage). I grew up eating lentils at home and the one thing that is different about the way we make them is the vinegar. 1 tsp is just not enough. Growing up it was always cider vinegar – it was added in the pot and also put on the table to add more. I now use balsamic vinegar. I put about a 1/4 cup in a pot of lentils. It really perks up the flavor!

  • Stephanie Stiavetti

    This is one of those recipes that really makes me wonder about the water-versus-stock argument. I always use stock (homemade stock from a recipe I created myself), but I think this would be a great dish to test the theory that water works well in its place.

    Have you or Clara ever made this with water instead of stock? Did it make a difference?

    Hi Stephanie, yes, you can easily make this with just water. You may need to add more seasonings. ~Elise

  • Adrienne

    One of the better lentil stews I’ve tried! Definitely a keeper for the recipe book.

  • The Teacher Cooks

    Mmm. Perfect paired with some crusty bread for the weather that we have had.

  • Terence Doonan

    This recipe has given me another alternative to Sausage Casserole.that my wife and I make and the family love. We use most of the vegetable ingredients that you do but we also include Aubergine, butternut squash, Peppers and courgettes and occasionally a tin or two of baked beans and tomatoes. Lovely its making my mouth water just thinking about it.

    Regards Terry Doonan (Colchester England)

  • Sherry Schruder

    Can I use canned lentils in this recipe?

    No idea. I’ve yet to cook with canned lentils. If you try it, please let us know in the comments how it turned out for you. ~Elise

  • en

    Have you tried this without the meat or is there a vegetarian version? It looks delicious.

    There are plenty of great vegetarian lentil stew recipes. I suggest doing a search for lentil stew in Food Blog Search and refining your search (see the link above the results for refining results) for “vegetarian blogs”. ~Elise

  • tzkelley

    This looks really good and I’m going to try it. I think I’ll cook the sausage in the same pan right after the bacon to get some of that sausage flavor in the pan, too. Would using 6 cups of stock be too much?

    Great question on the stock. I guess it sort of depends on the stock, and how much of the chicken flavor you want in it. ~Elise

  • Katie @ goodLife {eats}

    This looks so warm and hearty. We woke up to snow today, so I think it’s going to be a soup night for dinner. I love lentils and sausage together. I’ve made a similar recipe, but instead of Italian sausage and bacon it uses smoked sausage. Lentil Soup with Smoked Sausage

  • Katie

    This looks delicious. I picked up a bag of red lentils from a hispanic market to try. Is there any reason they wouldn’t work with this recipe?

    Red lentils cook up much more quickly than green or brown lentils, and because they are softer work better in dishes that are purées. I would stick with brown/green for this recipe. ~Elise