This Italian flavored soup is so rich and hearty, yet so healthy! I even got a “This is delicious!” from my husband so anyone who knows him, knows that this must be a winner :). And I think it’s pretty good, too, if I do say so myself.
So I have to talk about this sausage for a minute. I have said it in other posts, but I found the best sausage at my local grocery store (Macey’s) that is made by them and it’s incredibly lean. It only has 140 calories per 4 oz which is the same as lean ground turkey! I thought I was going to have to use turkey sausage for the rest of my life, until I stumbled on this little gem. It has such a rich strong sausage flavor that just can’t be substituted! So to all my Utah friends, go to your nearest Macey’s and look for their own country sausage. You won’t be disappointed.
And have you ever wondered what gives sausage it’s distinct flavor? It’s mostly fennel seeds. I bought some in bulk at WINCO a while back and have been wanting to try it in something, so I thought I would throw some into this soup. I discovered a little goes a long way! But it did kick up that flavor a few notches. I left that ingredient as optional but I recommend trying it for sure. We really liked it. 🙂
So start out by browning your sausage in your sauce pan that you are going to make your soup in.
Apparently, this is not the pan I made the soup in, but I messed up. 🙂 While that’s browning, dice up all your veggies (carrots, celery, onions, garlic and peppers) pretty small and add them to the sausage to saute for a few minutes.
Now add in all the liquid and seasons: water, chicken boulion, salt, tomato sauce, vinegar, and pepper, and fennel seed. Bring that up to a simmer. Add in dry lentils, cover the pot, and let simmer on low 10-15 minutes until lentils are tender.
When the lentils are tender, mince up your fresh basil and give a rough chop to your spinach to make it more bite sized. You will stir this in when it is hot, but you are about ready to serve it, so the spinach is just wilted and soft.
I love how the spinach and basil turn super bright green when it’s just wilted. And it smells so good! You are ready to serve up. Sprinkle with some grated Parmesan cheese if you want and dig in!
- 1.25 lb lean pork sausage
- 8 oz dry lentils
- 6 C waters
- 3 tsp chicken bouillon
- 1 t salt
- 1 C tomato sauce
- 2 T white vinegar
- 3 T fresh minced basil
- 3 C chopped fresh spinach
- 2 t minced garlic
- 1/2 C chopped onions
- 1/2 C chopped carrots
- 1/2 C chopped celery
- 1/2 C chopped red bell pepper
- 1/2 t fennel seed (optional)
- fresh ground pepper to taste
- Parmesan cheese for topping
- Brown sausage in a medium to large sauce pan (big enough to make soup in).
- When almost cooked through, add chopped carrots, onions, celery, peppers, and garlic. Saute 4-5 minutes.
- Add to pan water, chicken bouillon, salt, pepper, tomato sauce, vinegar, lentils, and fennel seed. Bring to a simmer, cover and let cook 10-15 minutes until the lentils and chopped veggies are soft.
- Turn off heat and stir in fresh spinach and basil.
- Top with 1-2 T Parmesan cheese if desired.
- Macros: Calories 290; Fat 6; Carbs 35; Protein 38
- Makes 5 servings at about 17-17.5 oz each.
- Macros do not include the cheese for topping.