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Aunt Fran's Lentil Soup
Family Recipe Files: Aunt Fran's Lentil Soup
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Nutritional Information


Recipe List

  • 1 16-oz package lentils, about 2 1/2 cups
  • 2 quarts water

Soffrito and Sausage

  • 1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled, finely diced
  • 1 red onion, finely diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, mince

In soffrito skillet, brown on all sides:

  • 6 Italian or Spanish sausages, about 1.5 pounds
  • ‍1 32-oz can diced, peeled tomatoes in juice
  • ‍4 cups chicken or beef broth*
  • ‍2 tsp dried Italian seasoning (crush between fingertips and thumb, into pot)
  • 1 large bay leaf

Cooking Instructions

  • In a large stockpot, soak lentils in fresh water for about 1 hour. Over medium-high heat, boil lentils for about 20-30 minutes until very soft
  • While lentils soak and boil, prepare soffrito and sausage
  • For soffrito, pour olive oil into large skillet, and over medium flame, cook celery, carrot, onion until very soft and sweet, about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally
  • Add garlic and cook an additional 5 minutes, lowering flame a little; careful not to brown garlic
  • Once lentils are softened, add soffrito mixture to pot with lentils, and stir through
  • Lower heat for stockpot to simmer and raise flame for soffrito skillet to medium-high
  • Cut browned sausages in half, and add to stockpot, along with: 1 32-oz can diced, peeled tomatoes in juice, 4 cups chicken or beef broth*, 2 tsp dried Italian seasoning, 1 large bay leaf
  • Simmer soup for 2-3 hours, stirring occasionally, tasting and adjusting flavor with salt and pepper. 
  • You may also add a cup of orzo or other small pasta, even farro, barley, rice; pasta/grains will cook as soup simmers.
  • Before serving, remove sausages to cut into little rounds, return to soup and ladle into soup bowls.
  • Top with grated Parmesan cheese if desired.
*For vegan/vegetarian options, you may use soy chorizo for sausage, and vegetable broth; both will yield a delicious rendition of recipe.

Collecting Dust

One of my end-of-year promises to myself, was to clear out boxes of paper files that had two seemingly ridiculous reasons to live - collecting dust and taking up space in a corner of my home. Mind you, they were well hidden behind a nice screen, so they grated on no one’s nerves but mine.

Ridding these files was like reviewing ancient history and - long story short - a very healthy, purging process, to say the least. One of the finest treasures buried in this debris, was the card-file recipe box, that I began keeping when I was a child.

Angel Food

Through childhood, high school, college, first homes of my own ... until about the time I published my cookbook Angel Food, I kept my family’s most precious heirlooms in this box. That collection grew to recipes I exchanged with my closest girlfriends and other trusted cooks, while I was preparing for my own food-centric career.

Among the gold that I mined in this treasure chest, was my Aunt Fran’s recipe for Lentil Soup. I made a large pot of my adapted version this last week, and I am very happy to share that recipe here.

Homemade, from-scratch soup

Homemade, from-scratch soup is such a heartfelt way to feed hungry bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits. I probably don’t need to tell you that a family recipe for a meal so nurturing has that added something ... that unique nourishment that is inherent in your preparation. In other words, we naturally add love in a way that only we can. We affectionately honor a memory and even a tradition, that defines a very important part of who we are.

Deliciousness beyond measure or, in essence - love made visible on the plate (or in the bowl) - is guaranteed.

Here is a good resource that will help familiarize you with cooking lentils, one of the planet’s finest legume varieties. Asterisks in the recipe below will guide you to my notes that advise for vegetarian options.

I hope you love this soup, I do. Buon appetito from our family to yours!

Until next time, I remain ~

Your Chef and Tour Maestra,

Diane Scalia

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