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Stovetop Meatless Lentil Soup (Tastes Like Sausage!)

Need a new idea for a Friday Lenten meal or just a meatless Monday? Try this meatless lentil soup, which tastes an awful lot like sausage!

I had the opportunity to attend an event recently where a vegan chef spoiled us with gorgeous and delicious foods. We had fewer legumes than I expected … lots of mushrooms, and I was delighted to be introduced to some dairy-free cheese that actually melts.

My daughter is dairy sensitive and has hated most of the commercial dairy-free alternatives. I’m excited to try this new brand.

One of the few legume-based main courses that our vegan chef served was a lentil soup. I feel like I should qualify and say a “simple lentil soup,” but it almost seems like a redundancy. Isn’t lentil soup by nature simple?

I thought it was funny, because many of her other dishes were more extravagant; and lentil soup seems not only humble, but literally like the food of the poor.

In the past when I have brought lentil soup to a potluck, I feel almost embarrassed. It seems like it’s not good enough to serve to company, for example. On the other hand, the sausage lentil soup that our family has fallen in love with is so good that it’s hard not to want to share it with people. I remember when my youngest was baptized, I made a triple batch to serve everyone who came to our house. It was the middle of winter, so it did feel appropriate.

Lentils are so inexpensive that they really are the perfect replacement for meat.

lentil soup with sausage seasoning

Hot Tip: Save Money on Taco Night

Speaking of inexpensive lentils, we actually cut our taco meat half and half with lentils. I sprout them for a few days, and then we cook them in bulk and freeze in one-pound portions. That means we make one pound of ground beef and one pound of cooked lentils and season it as if it is two pounds of meat.

Our kids have actually grown to enjoy and appreciate this better than straight meat, and it’s pennies on the dollar savings compared to high-quality grassfed ground beef. And now back to the soup story!

RELATED: More budget-saving ways to stretch your meat.

Meatless Lentil Soup Recipe

Obviously you can use lentils to cut your meat and save money. But you’re here for a meatless lentil soup, where you’re going to cut out meat. How does that work?

This soup started out in my favorite soup book that everyone should own: Ladled by Kimberly Harris. It’s her remake of a German restaurant’s lentil soup.

Kimmy’s version calls for a couple strips of bacon. But for me, I often had ground pork on hand more readily and less expensively. I would use my homemade sausage seasoning recipe to make sausage (hot tip: make double and freeze half for a super easy pasta night or bits to crumble into omelets).

For years, we used my adapted sausage lentil soup throughout the winter. It was one of my kids’ favorites.

meatless lentil soup

One year during Lent, when Catholics abstain from all meat on Fridays, I was trying to think of more non-fish, non-dairy, meatless recipes. Because I have a daughter who’s dairy-sensitive, I can’t just do mac and cheese or cheese pizza.

Besides that, one or more of the adults in our family often gives up grains throughout all of Lent. Fridays get complicated when only half the family likes seafood as well!

I wanted to make my lentil soup, and I started thinking, what if I took out the sausage? Is that the good part? Does much of the flavor come from the sausage seasoning? I decided that it might, but asked another question.

What if I just use the sausage seasoning and no ground pork?

In essence, this experiment meant that I would be creating a soup with an incredible number and quantity of seasonings, from Italian seasoning to cumin to fennel and back again.

It’s like taking all the flavors from all the cultures of the world and throwing them in one pot. That would either be huge success or a bust.

As you may have guessed, since I’m publishing this recipe, my experiment was a huge success!

I present to you meatless lentil soup that tastes like it has sausage in it.

Can You Use Chicken or Beef Broth When Eating Meatless for Lent?

In short, yes.

According to

Abstinence laws consider that meat comes only from animals such as chickens, cows, sheep or pigs—all of which live on land. Birds are also considered meat. Abstinence does not include meat juices and liquid foods made from meat. Thus, such foods as chicken broth, consommé, soups cooked or flavored with meat, meat gravies or sauces, as well as seasonings or condiments made from animal fat are technically not forbidden.

If you personally feel that you should not eat any animal products on Lenten Fridays, you can certainly use vegetable broth or water in this recipe.

If you are serving this to a large group and some might be vegetarian or vegan, you would also want to steer away from chicken bone broth so they can enjoy your delicious lentil soup!

lentil soup

Healthy Lentil Soup Recipe

Whether you are experimenting with a more plant-based diet, a Catholic abstaining from meat on a Friday in Lent, or just trying to cut costs by reducing meat a night or two a week, this soup will become your new best friend.

A single batch makes a fairly large pot, which is enough for my family of six big eaters, including at least one leftovers meal. For a double batch, you probably need to get your big pot; and for a triple batch, plan to spend a significant amount of time in the kitchen.

I also recommend using a food processor if you have one to cut the onions and slice the carrots at a minimum. When I’m making a huge batch, sometimes I’ll even use the french fry attachment and just deal with the fact that my potatoes don’t look perfectly diced. Cutting 18 carrots and 18 potatoes takes significant effort without machine help!

From my family to yours, please enjoy this simple meatless lentil soup.

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lentil soup with sausage seasoning

Meatless Lentil Soup (That Tastes Like Sausage Lentil Soup)

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  • Author: Katie Kimball
  • Prep Time: 24 hours
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 25 hours
  • Category: soup
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: vegan, dairy-free


Craving a hearty, flavorful soup without the meat? Try this stovetop lentil soup that has a surprisingly similar taste to sausage. Perfect for vegetarians or those looking to reduce their meat intake.


Units Scale
  • 2 c. green lentils, soaked overnight or sprouted
  • 24 Tbs. cooking oil of any kind (olive oil (use the code STEWARDSHIP for 10% off at that site!) for vegan)
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 1 tsp. ground fennel
  • 1/2 tsp. whole fennel seed
  • 2 tsp. salt (Use the code kitchenstewardship for 15% off of your first purchase)
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper
  • 1/21 tsp. Italian seasoning
  • 1/21 tsp. sage (not ground)
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne (red) pepper
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced (or 1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder)
  • 6+ c. chicken broth (or water if fully vegan)
  • 6 carrots, sliced
  • 6 red potatoes, diced (I leave the skins on)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • 1/8 tsp. nutmeg
  • 1 1/2 tsp. dried thyme (not ground)

ship kroger


  1. The night before: Soak lentils by covering with water 3x deeper than the lentils themselves. Drain before using. If you don’t have time to soak the lentils, add at least 2 cups water or broth to the soup and another ½ teaspoon salt.
  2. In a large pot (at least 8 quarts), heat the oil or fat over medium heat. Saute the onions until translucent or even lightly browned for more flavor.
  3. Add the “sausage seasoning” ingredients (fennel through cayenne) and stir around for a minute as the aroma floats up to your nose. This is the trick for the “tastes like sausage but meatless” part of the soup!
  4. Add the garlic and stir for another minute to lightly heat.
  5. Pour in broth or water (remember to add more if using unsoaked lentils) and turn heat to high.
  6. Add carrots, potatoes, lentils, and all remaining seasonings.
  7. Bring to a boil with lid on, then reduce heat to a simmer. Cook until vegetables and lentils are soft. For soaked or sprouted lentils, this may be as quick as 15 minutes; for dry, unsoaked lentils, 30-45 minutes.
  8. Remove bay leaves before serving. Add grated Parmesan (not vegan) or a drizzle of balsamic vinegar to individual bowls according to preference. The soup is excellent on its own but a bit fancier with some toppings.


Note: If you have a few extra days, soak and sprout your lentils for added health benefits.

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Unless otherwise credited, photos are owned by the author or used with a license from Canva or Deposit Photos.

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