Rustic Lentil Soup

Rustic lentil soup is full of nourishment, comfort, and flavor. A simmering pot of green lentils, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, and spices along with, if you’re so inclined, a triple threat of pork with sausage, bacon, and pancetta.

A white pot filled with rustic lentil soup, and a metal ladle scooping out a portion.

Adapted from Michael Ronis | Carmine’s Family Style Cookbook | St. Martin’s Press, 2008

This soup turns up most often on the menu at the 91st Street restaurant, where our regulars love it during the cold, icy months when New York is gray and damp. It’s a hearty and warming soup, made even more so with the addition of sausage, bacon, and pancetta—all of which can be tossed aside to make this soup ideal for vegetarians, with vegetable stock standing in for the chicken stock. This is a terrific Sunday night family meal and a delicious leftover weekday meal.–Michael Ronis

Rustic Lentil Soup

A white pot filled with rustic lentil soup, and a metal ladle scooping out a portion.
Rustic lentil soup is full of nourishment, comfort, and flavor. A simmering pot of green lentils, tomatoes, carrots, celery, potatoes, and spices. Add sausage, bacon, and pancetta, if you're so inclined.

Prep 45 mins
Cook 1 hr
Total 1 hr 45 mins
4 servings
727 kcal
5 / 6 votes
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  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 oz) unsalted butter 1/2 oz
  • 2 ounces diced pancetta
  • 2 strips bacon diced
  • 1 garlic clove peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 celery stalks chopped
  • 1 onion peeled and coarsely chopped
  • 2 small plum tomatoes peeled, cored, and finely chopped
  • 5 to 6 cups homemade chicken stock or canned chicken broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
  • 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups green lentils* rinsed and drained
  • 1 russet potato peeled and diced
  • 1 to 2 Italian sweet or hot sausage links (5 oz | 143 g)


  • In a large stock pot, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat until the butter starts to foam. Add the pancetta and bacon and cook until the bacon is crisp, about 7 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until the garlic has softened, about 2 minutes. Add the carrots, celery, and onions and cook until the vegetables are tender and lightly browned, 10 to 12 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, strain the chopped tomatoes through a fine-mesh sieve, pressing on the pulp to extract as much liquid as possible.
  • Add 5 cups chicken stock to the pot and then stir in the strained tomato pulp, bay leaves, salt, thyme, oregano, red pepper flakes, and black pepper. Add the lentils, increase the heat to medium-high, and bring the soup to a boil. Partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to a simmer. Cook the soup for about 45 minutes.
  • Add the potatoes and cook the soup for about 15 minutes more, stirring occasionally, or until the lentils and potatoes are tender. Add more chicken stock if the soup becomes too thick.
  • Meanwhile, remove the casings from the sausage. In a small nonstick saute pan over high heat, cook the sausage, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, for 4 to 5 minutes or until it is nicely browned.
  • Add the sausage and any fat remaining in the pan to the soup. Simmer for about 5 minutes. Taste the soup and add salt if necessary. Remove the bay leaves and serve.
Print RecipeBuy the Carmine's Family Style Cookbook cookbook

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*What can I substitute for green lentils?

Green and Puy lentils are usually favored because of their texture and flavor, holding their shape well in both warm and cold dishes. If you can’t get green lentils, brown lentils do an excellent job of subbing in. Brown lentils hold their shape like the green variety and have a similar earthy taste. Be aware that they can cook a little more quickly, so start checking them earlier than you would with the green variety.

Vegetarian Rustic Lentil Soup variation

Omit the pancetta, bacon, and sausage and substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

Sliced Sausage Rustic Lentil Soup variation

Instead of crumbling and cooking the sausage, simply slice and pan sear before adding to the soup.

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1portionCalories: 727kcal (36%)Carbohydrates: 72g (24%)Protein: 35g (70%)Fat: 33g (51%)Saturated Fat: 10g (63%)Trans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mg (18%)Sodium: 1417mg (62%)Potassium: 1576mg (45%)Fiber: 25g (104%)Sugar: 10g (11%)Vitamin A: 5582IU (112%)Vitamin C: 16mg (19%)Calcium: 95mg (10%)Iron: 8mg (44%)

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Recipe Testers’ Reviews

This soup is seriously good, and it’s even better the day after. I like that it is a chop and drop kind of soup. It’s a snap to throw together—except for peeling tomatoes, a job I hate. I also like that it can be made to suit a vegetarian diet for those times when I want to serve the same dish to everyone.

Upon reading this recipe again, I was delighted to see that a vegetarian version was offered, as I don’t eat pork. Vegetarian soups are often lacking in flavor, but this soup certainly didn’t disappoint. It was delicious.

The choice to use green lentils made for a very nicely textured dish in which many of the lentils held their shape while just enough of them melted into a thick purée. The pieces of carrots and potatoes added to the chunky texture. As the recipe says, with a nice loaf of bread, this is dinner.

Originally published April 17, 2008



  1. 5 stars
    This soup has wonderful “rustic” textures and flavors. The seasonings were perfect—no extra salt or pepper needed. I love lentils in any form or fashion, so I was excited to find that this exceeded expectations. When I make this the next time, I’d tweak the preparation and addition of the tomatoes, but that would be to just simplify the preparation, not to change the outcome. It’d be hard to find a recipe that starts with bacon and pancetta fat that doesn’t come out a winner.

  2. 5 stars
    As the author stated, the soup is a terrific for a cold blustery Sunday evening. We don’t have them here in Arizona, but the soup was still terrific. I don’t usually use fresh herbs in soups and stews, but I did here as I was following directions. Couldn’t tell if it made a difference, however. Even with using all five cups of stock, the soup was almost a stew, so I added another two cups. We’ll be enjoying this for the next several weeks.

  3. 5 stars
    Very straightforward, albeit not a “quick and easy” recipe. It’s written perfectly, easy to follow, and the results were delicious. I’m not a big pork eater, and with three pork products here, I was a bit worried that it’d taste heavy, but that wasn’t the case. My only comment is that by using the hot Italian sausage on top of the red pepper flakes made for a “spicy” soup, but that was okay by me.

  4. 5 stars
    This is a wonderful fall or winter soup. Really easy to make, and it’s tasty and robust. I think this is a great dish to have after being out in the cold. I topped it with chopped parsley and a bit of sea salt and served it with hearty rustic bread. It’s also a great way to clean out the fridge with leftover cured meats and vegetables.

  5. 5 stars
    I have had this recipe in my “Must Try” for awhile now, but it wasn’t until the cold weather blew in that I decided to give it a try. A few days before I had made the Pork Tacos Recipe (found on this site by Kim Sunée). We had reached our breaking point of tacos, so I used the leftover meat from that in this recipe. FABULOUS! I did not have bacon, so I used bacon grease I store in my freezer (doesn’t everyone?) along with some leftover chicken sausage. No tomato on hand, so I used tomato paste. Three hours on high in the crockpot and it was done. The picky eaters in my house have already requested another pot full, so I think this is going into our regular winter soup rotation.

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