red lentil soup with potatoes and kielbasa

by ALLISSA on April 17, 2011

Red Lentil Soup with Potatoes and Kielbasa

Soup’s been on my mind for months, mostly because it always seems to be winter around here. Guess what’s flying around outside my window right now? Snow. Shocking, I know. It makes me want to curl up on the couch and close my eyes and take a long, long nap, long enough that it’ll be spring or at least 55 degrees when I wake up.

Howard and I ventured outdoors yesterday, into the wind and the cold and rain, in search of some food inspiration. We landed at the indoor market on Broadway, in a beat-up part of town, a few miles from central downtown. It’s the place to go during Easter season, especially if you’re prone to Polish food or homemade chocolate bunnies. It’s also the place to go if you like baked goods and I do, so between my chai and the promise of a Polish donut, it was a good morning.

We meandered for an hour or so, finally deciding to buy some fresh kielbasa, a loaf of braided bread and four potato-and-cheddar pierogies. I wasn’t sure what I would do with the sausage, but I poked around and found a lentil soup recipe from my brand-new, how-have-I-lived-without-it cookbook, the Joy of Cooking. Please don’t ask why I didn’t own this book until a few weeks ago. It’s awful and ridiculous and I know that.

Red Lentil Soup with Potatoes and Kielbasa Ingredients

Red Lentils

Fresh Kielbasa

A year ago, when it was probably 75 degrees and super-humid in mid-April, I would have chosen to grill that sausage and enjoy a smoky, juicy sausage-and-peppers sandwich. But it was still raining outside and it was generally miserable, so soup was in order. I tweaked Irma Rombauer’s recipe only slightly, pleased that I had most of the ingredients on hand. I decided to cook the kielbasa prior to adding it to the soup because I wasn’t sure it would cook thoroughly if I simply sliced it fresh and added it to the simmering soup. I also wasn’t sure about the overall flavor since the recipe calls for adding water, not some kind of broth, to the mix.

Red Lentil Soup Potatoes Kielbasa Simmering

Pain de Campagne

But, happily, it came together fairly effortlessly and paired well with a loaf of Pain de Campagne that Howard picked up at our local Wegmans. There was kick to the soup, likely attributable to the spicy sausage, and the overall taste was full of flavor. I wish there’d been more depth to the potatoes. They were kind of bland. Next time, I might substitute ditilini pasta for the lentils.

Be forewarned: this is a LOT of soup for two people to eat. I bet we could get another two meals apiece out of this, which will nicely accompany¬†the never-ending winteresque-spring we’re having.

Red Lentil Soup Potatoes Kielbasa Served

Red Lentil Soup with Potatoes and Kielbasa

(adapted from the Joy of Cooking, 75th anniversary edition)


  • 3 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 medium celery ribs, diced
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups of dried red lentils, rinsed
  • 1 can (14 1/2 ounces) of diced tomatoes, drained
  • 1 teaspoon of thyme
  • 8 cups of water
  • 6 ounces of fresh kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of black pepper


  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add carrots, celery, onion, cloves and stir, cooking until tender, for 5 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add lentils, tomatoes, thyme and water and bring to a boil over high heat.
  4. Add balsamic vinegar, salt and black pepper.
  5. Simmer on low for 30 to 35 minutes, until lentils are tender.
  6. In a separate pan, slice fresh kielbasa and cook with olive oil. (Note: The kielbasa does not have to brown, per se. I cooked it long enough to make the pink go away.)
  7. Add potatoes to the large pot and cook another 10 minutes.
  8. Remove kielbasa from the frying pan and add to the large pot.
  9. Keep simmering until potatoes are tender and the kielbasa is heated through, roughly 5 minutes.

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