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January 24, 2011

Recipe for white lentil and kale soup with (or without) spicy sausage

White lentil and kale soup

White lentils (urad dal) aren't something you'll find in every neighborhood grocery store, so I hope your travels take you to a gourmet shop or Indian market. White lentils are black lentils with the outer skins split and removed. The creamy ivory-colored lentils require no presoaking; they cook quickly and take on the flavors around them. In this soup, you can use chicken stock for the base and smoked sausage (hot links or chorizo) for the kick; or, make it vegetarian by using water for the base, and smoky barbecue sauce plus some Turkish urfa biber pepper to simulate the contribution of the sausage. The assertive kale snuggles right up to the mild lentils, making for a whole lot of nutrition in every beautiful bowl. If you can't buy white lentils in your market, you can order online, or substitute delicate red lentils (masoor dal), which are less expensive and easier to find.

White lentil and kale soup with (or without) spicy sausage

Serves 8; can be halved.


2 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 lb white lentils
8 cups chicken stock (homemade or low-sodium store-bought) or water
2 Tbsp hickory-smoked barbecue sauce
1 Tbsp urfa biber pepper
3 beef hot links or spicy turkey sausage, diced (optional)
1 bunch of kale leaves stripped from the stems, washed and chopped
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper, to taste


In a Dutch oven or heavy stock pot over medium heat, add the olive oil and onion, and cook until the onion is translucent, 2 minutes. Stir in the lentils, chicken stock, 2 cups water (for a total of 10 cups of liquid), and barbecue sauce. Raise heat to high and bring the soup to a boil; then, reduce to simmer, cover, and cook for 20 minutes, stirring frequently to keep the lentils from sticking to the bottom of the pan. Add the urfa pepper and sausage, and simmer for an additional 25 minutes, stirring every 2-3 minutes, until the lentils are almost soft. If the soup seems too thick, add water, one-half cup at a time.

Stir in the chopped kale leaves, and season with salt and plenty of black pepper, to taste. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, over low heat, until the kale is cooked through, approximately 10 minutes. Taste again, adjust seasoning if needed, and serve hot.

Print recipe only.


Posted by: Cookin' Canuck | January 24, 2011 at 04:28 PM

I have never cooked with white lentils, but will look out for them the on my next trip to our favorite Indian market. What a hearty, healthy soup for the winter!

Posted by: pam | January 24, 2011 at 07:35 PM

I still haven't given up on lentils. So, if I find some white ones I will give this a try!

Posted by: Kalynskitchen | January 24, 2011 at 08:11 PM

I want some white lentils! Don't think I've ever had them.

Posted by: Lydia | January 25, 2011 at 08:36 AM

Cookin' Canuck, Pam, Kalyn: Look for white lentils at an Indian market, at Whole Foods, or online. I found them at a gourmet shop. They are really mild in flavor and, like other types of dal or split peas, they make their own thick soup.

Posted by: T.W. Barritt at Culinary Types | January 25, 2011 at 08:58 AM

Every time I've worked my pantry down to a manageable level, you introduce me to something new. I've never seen white lentils. But there is an Indian market close to my home, so I'm going on the hunt.

Posted by: susan g | January 25, 2011 at 03:52 PM

Urad dal is one of the common split lentils and beans used to make Indian dal, so you'll be glad to have them. They're usually very inexpensive in Indian markets. This recipe is a twist which will be fun to make, with one of the delicious veg sausage choices.

Posted by: Renee | January 27, 2011 at 10:40 PM

I have part of a bag of tiny little urad dal to use up and here's a recipe! It's fate! Thank you!

Posted by: Lydia | January 28, 2011 at 11:11 AM

TW, you're lucky to have a good Indian market close to home. I need to go into Providence or to Boston.

Susan, you can even leave out the sausage altogether, though I think it works well with the lentils and kale.

Renee, perfect! (I believe in soup karma. I really do.)

Posted by: Damaris | January 29, 2011 at 01:16 AM

This sounds like the perfect soup. I love kale. I love lentils. And I love sausage.

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  • I'm Lydia Walshin, a longtime food writer who lives and cooks in a real log house. If I could, I'd eat Chinese noodles, grapes, ice cream and soup every day.
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