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Fatted Calf's Moroccan Lentil Soup


Fatted Calf storefrond

Fatted Calf was started by husband-and-wife team Taylor Boetticher and Toponia Miller. Miller received her charcuterie skills at the Culinary Institute of America, and Boetticher in 1999 at the acclaimed Café Rouge in Berkeley, known for their whole animal butchery and home-made charcuterie. In 2001, the duo spent a few months training in Chianti, Italy with the famed butcher Dario Cecchini, and came back with ideas of launching their own project.

In 2003, Fatted Calf began as a farmers market stall selling fresh sausages, terrines, and pates, first in Berkeley, then at the SF Ferry Building Farmers Market (right around the same time that Steve Sando started selling beans at the same places).

When the Oxbow Market project in Napa was opened, Boetticher and Miller launched their first retail location in 2008. As Napa neighbors, Fatted Calf’s meats and Rancho Gordo’s beans have been long time friends. Fatted Calf now has two locations: The Oxbow Public Market in Napa and The Ferry Building in San Francisco.

This recipe from Boetticher and Miller combines two different types of legumes with two different kinds of charcuterie.

  • 2 ounces Fatted Calf Lamb Bacon, diced (see chef’s note)
  • 1 pound Fatted Calf Merguez sausage, uncased (see chef’s note)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and diced
  • 1 large Yukon Gold potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 Chile de Arbol
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cinnamon stick
  • 1 teaspoon toasted and ground cumin
  • 3 cups tomato puree
  • 3-4 cups of lamb, beef or chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup uncooked Rancho Gordo French-Style Green Lentils or Black Caviar Lentils, rinsed
  • 1 1/2 cups cooked Rancho Gordo Chickpeas
  • Sea salt
  • 1 1/2 cups Greek style yogurt
  • 3 tablespoons chopped mint or cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons finely chopped chives

Makes about 4 quarts

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the lamb bacon and cook until golden.
  2. Add the onion, a pinch of sea salt and cook, stirring frequently until translucent and soft. Add the merguez sausage and use a spoon break up the merguez into smaller pieces while it cooks.
  3. Cook the sausage, onions, and bacon mixture until lightly browned. Add the carrot and potato and continue cooking for about six to eight minutes. Stir in the chile, bay leaf, cinnamon stick, ground cumin, tomato puree, broth, lentils, and chickpeas.
  4. Bring to a simmer and cook until the lentils are tender. If the soup becomes too thick, add a little water or more broth. Taste and season with additional salt if needed.
  5. For the herbed yogurt garnish: Mix together the yogurt and chopped fresh herbs with a pinch of sea salt. Ladle the stew into bowls and garnish each bowl with a heaping tablespoon of the herbed yogurt.

Chef’s note
Merguez, a North African style lamb sausage and the Lamb Bacon enrich the stew and add their spiced fragrance. Lamb Bacon is a unique ingredient to Fatted Calf, made from cured and smoked lamb breast, but if you can’t find it, just use a more Merguez. Merguez is more readily available, but if not, mix your own by combining 1 pound of ground lamb (or beef), 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper, 3/4 teaspoon ground cayenne, 2 teaspoons Spanish paprika, a pinch of cinnamon, 1 clove minced garlic, 1/4 teaspoon chopped lemon zest, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of sea salt.

Writing and photography by Lou Bustamante; recipe by Toponia Miller.

We are thrilled to have Lou Bustamante (@thevillagedrunk) doing some guest writing for our blog. He'll be featuring a handful of our favorite bean-friendly spots in the Bay Area. Lou is a skilled freelance writer and journalist, with over 14 years experience food writing for local and national publications, including authoring two books. 


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