Zing Up Your Lentil & Sausage Soup with Pesto!

Lentil & Sausage Soup w/PestoIf the word ‘zing’ had a definition specific to the food industry, I believe it would be “holy nuts Batman, that tastes incredible!”  The difference between being a good cook and being an incredible cook, at least in this Cheese’s humble opinion, is knowing how to put that extra something, that ‘zing’ in a dish.  Knowing what that extra something is, can be the ultimate difference between your dish being good and being un-friggin’-believable.  I have mentioned before, that to zest up a soup or sauce, you can usually add a capful of vinegar to really liven up the flavors.  I recently tried pesto in one of my soups and just like that my whole universe has expanded.  Mr. Cheese and I almost licked the pot clean, it was just that delicious!  It took a split second to make some pesto, but the end result from adding it was mind-bending.  The added crispness from the basil with the slight hint of salt and parmesan brought out flavors in the soup we otherwise might have missed.  My mind has been playing with different combinations and the possibilities seem endless.  Perhaps a sun-dried tomato pesto swirled into homemade potato soup, for instance.  Next post, maybe?   

Lentil & Sausage Soup with Pesto                                                                                        Adapted from 400 Best Ever Budget Recipes

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oilmise en place
  • 1 red onion, small dice
  • 1 & 1/2 pounds pork sausage (we used Polish due to the Great Sausage Overpurchase)
  • 1/8 cup cooking sherry
  • 6 cups chicken broth (low sodium)
  • 1 & 1/2 cups lentils
  • 2 & 1/2 cups diced tomatoes
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 cup pesto (recipe below)
  • 6 large basil leaves, chiffonade cut (rolled tight, then cut like ribbons) for garnish
  • 4 teaspoons parmesan cheese, fresh grated for garnish

How to Make It!

In a large pot, heat olive oil over medium heat and saute onion until soft.  In the meantime, chop all but 1/2 pound of the sausage into pieces and add to the pot.  Continue cooking until the sausage is no longer pink, about 8-10 minutes.  Add the sherry and cook for about 3-5 more minutes, then add the stock, tomatoes and lentils.  Bring to a boil, stirring on occasion, then turn heat to a simmer and cover, allowing to cook for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are tender to the bite. 

chiffonade of basil

chiffonade of basil

While the soup is simmering, cut the remaining sausage into bite-sized pieces and cook over medium-high heat until browned.  Drain and set aside.  Once the lentils are tender, remove the soup from the heat and allow to cool for about 15 minutes.  Then puree soup in a blender until smooth.  Return the soup to the pan, cover and keep on low heat.  Make the pesto.  To serve, pour the soup into bowls, top with bits of cooked sausage, swirl a tablespoon of pesto into each bowl and finish with a sprinkle of basil ribbons and fresh-grated parmesan.  Serves 4


  • 1 cup fresh basil leaves, stems removed
  • 2 Tablespoons pine nuts
  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil (give or take, depends on consistency desired)
  • 1 Tablespoon parmesan cheese, fresh grated
  • 1 Tablespoon garlic, fresh minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon course sea salt

How to Make It!

In a food processor (we used our nifty new Rocket blender Papa Cheese got me for my birthday), pulse the basil leaves a few times to get them chopped a bit.  Add the pine nuts and chop some more.  Add the garlic, olive oil, cheese and salt.  Keep pulsing until the desired consistency is achieved.  Too thick?  Add a bit of olive oil at a time.  Too runny?  You didn’t use enough basil/ used too much oil.  Adjust as needed.  DISCLAIMER:  I am the kind of cook who throws stuff together in the kitchen at lightening speed and doesn’t pay attention and viola!  Out comes a pretty amazing meal.  Since that’s the case, the Cheese can’t promise these measurements are exact since I didn’t write them down while I threw the pesto together.  Try it.  All you can do is have fun, make some nasty stuff and try again.  Yield: 1/2 cup 




About tossingtheswissaround

I have been obsessed with food since I can remember. I grew up watching the Frugal Gourmet and Julia Childs in black and white repeats on TV. I made an elementary version of veal parmesan when I was all of 8 years old and even concocted a homemade version of vomit to drizzle along the hallway and oh-so-carefully in the bathroom so I could get of school whenever I wanted. Dad never caught on but I eventually came clean about that vomit recipe. About two years ago. My skills have greatly improved and my obsession has only deepened as the years go by. In the mornings, I ask my co-workers what’s for lunch, what they ate last night and what is on the menu tonight. I groan when I eat almost anything I like because I can barely contain my excitement. Because, well, because it’s food! I was technically trained and once worked as a formal chef but physically that takes its toll so I joined the much less strenuous, albeit entertaining, world of HR. Food is still at the forefront of my mind as I continue to cook and love all things food. Enjoy!
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2 Responses to Zing Up Your Lentil & Sausage Soup with Pesto!

  1. Looks absolutely fabulous. I’m always looking for new lentil recipes/

  2. Karen says:

    I love lentil soup and you are right about making sure to give it a little zing. A touch of acid always brightens the flavors and I’m sure the pesto really made it pop.

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