This savory Italian-inspired soup is filled with earthy lentils, infused with aromatic herbs and peppered with tender meatballs. Lentils are a New Year’s tradition, but this soup is great anytime.
For the soup
- 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, diced
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 2 celery stalks, diced
- 1 Tablespoon minced garlic
- 2 ½ cups dry french puy lentils, rinsed and picked clean
- 1 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon coarse kosher salt plus more to taste
- ¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper plus more to taste
- 28-oz can crushed tomatoes with juice
- 1 large sprig fresh rosemary plus 1 teaspoon finely-minced rosemary
- 3 medium sage leaves
- 3 cups spinach, roughly chopped
- Optional: Grated parmesan
For the meatballs
- ½ lb ground turkey
- ½ lb ground sweet Italian pork sausage
- ½ cup Italian style bread crumbs
- ½ cup grated parmesan
- 1 teaspoon dried Italian spices
- 1 egg
- Butchers twine (not necessary, but helpful)
To make the soup
- Heat a large heavy-bottomed pot (at least 4 quarts) over medium heat, and add the olive oil.
- Add onions, carrots and celery and sauté for about 10 minutes until fork tender, stirring frequently to avoid sticking to the bottom. Add garlic in the last two minutes.
- Add lentils and stir until they begin to look dry.
- Add the bay leaf, minced rosemary, salt, pepper and the crushed tomatoes with juice to the pot and stir, then add eight cups of water. Bring to a slow boil.
- Meanwhile, wrap the sprig of rosemary and sage leaves up in a bundle with cheese cloth and add it to the pot.
- Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to medium-low. Allow it to simmer for 20 minutes. While the soup simmers, prepare the meatballs (recipe below).
- After 20 minutes is up, add the meatballs one at a time, followed by the spinach. If some meatballs are uncovered, add enough water to cover them. Bring back to a simmer over medium heat and cook 10 more minutes.
- Remove the bundle of sage and rosemary and the bay leaf. Serve hot with grated parmesan and black pepper.
To make meatballs
- Using clean, dry hands, gently mix all ingredients until just combined in a medium to large mixing bowl. Don’t over-mix.
- Roll mixture loosely into smooth 1-inch balls. They should be firm enough to stay together, but don’t press too hard or they’ll be tough.
- Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.
- You can make the meatballs ahead and refrigerate until you’re ready to use them.
- Leftovers freeze well for a healthy meal any time.
- This recipe is also great with brown or regular green lentils. I haven’t tried it with black belugas, but that’s next on the list!
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