You can have comfort food and health food at the same time with Lentil Soup! The humble lentil is a nutrition powerhouse. This easy soup elevates it into something crave-worthy.
Lentil soup starts with aromatic vegetables and herbs at its base, slowly sautéed to build up complex flavor.
Broth and lentils marry in creating a pot of hug-you-from-the-inside bliss.
While it perhaps sounds simple and is not the most photogenic, this traditional lentil soup recipe tastes phenomenal AND it’s good for you.
I have cooked and served lentil soup to many friends who all raved, and it’s one of my go-to weeknight dinners.
Cozy, warming, and satisfying, lentil soup is great for feeding a crowd, or for curling up with you and Netflix.
Choose your favorite flavor profile and method; you really can’t go wrong!
Lentils Are Good Luck?
Well, if you are Italian, you might think so anyway. Italians have a tradition of eating lentils on New Year’s Eve for good luck. With the flat legumes said to resemble Roman coins, eating lentils was thought to bring wealth and prosperity. So if you are in Italy, or want to pretend you are, this lentil soup recipe would be a wise choice for New Years Eve!
Why Lentil Soup is Healthy
Lentils are a power-house of vitamins, protein, and fiber.
- Vitamins. Lentils may be small in size, but they are mighty in nutrients! Lentils boast vitamin B and vitamin C, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and iron. On top of the lentils, you are getting loads of vitamins from the veggies also in the soup.
- Protein. Just half a cup of cooked lentils contains 9 grams of protein. This soup is a solid meal for vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike.
- Fiber. Carrots and lentils are both great fiber sources. There are 8 grams of fiber in a half cup of cooked lentils! The fiber coupled with the protein will really fill you up and make you feel satisfied.
Enjoy servings of vegetables in each bowl.
This soup contains a colorful mix of veggies, providing diverse vitamins and delicious flavors to boot.
How to Make Lentil Soup
This easy lentil soup recipe is a stovetop version that boasts warm Italian flavors.
No soaking of lentils is required.
You’ll have it ready in less than an hour!
- Veggies. Any good soup starts with the holy grail of slowly sautéed onions, garlic, and carrots.
- Herbs & Spices. Fresh thyme and bay leaf enhance the earthiness of the lentils and overall warmth of the dish.
- Tomatoes. Bust out those pantry staples; it’s soup season. The tomatoes add to the broth flavor and liquid needed to cook the lentils.
Make sure to be patient with the tomatoes’ simmering time. In this case, broken down tomatoes make for happy soup because you don’t skip any potential flavor building.
- Lentils. You already heard my spiel on how healthy and amazing lentils are (we love them in Instant Pot Lentil Curry too!). Different types of lentils have different flavor distinctions. This soup works well with brown or green lentils (also called lentils de puy).
The Best Lentils for Soup
When making soup, choose firmer lentils that hold their shape during a longer simmer-time. Brown or green lentils work well.
Red lentils and yellow lentils are very delicate, so while they are great for quick-cooking recipes like dal, they become mushy in soup.
You should rinse your lentils prior to cooking because it removes any dirt or debris.
- Broth. Vegetable broth keeps this dish vegetarian, but chicken broth could be used otherwise. Use low sodium to keep the soup from getting too salty.
- Kale. This trendy veg is here to stay. A sturdy leafy green, it is ideal for soups because it holds up.
- Sherry Vinegar. One of the final notes that really brings this soup symphony to life.
- Red Pepper Flakes. Optional, but I like it for a bit of heat.
- Honey. To balance out the acidity and round it all out.
- Parmesan. Freshly grated Parmesan is stirred in at the end to add some creamy, cheesy delightfulness, plus more to top your bowl and make you smile and feel fancy. To make the lentil soup vegan, simply omit it.
Next time you shave up some fresh parm, save your rind! They make great additions to soups for added flavor and depth. If you do have one, add it while the soup simmers and remove before serving.
Add Some Bacon If You Please
Bacon is not an ingredient in the recipe as stated, but could be added to level up the flavor (if you are not concerned about making the soup vegetarian of course).
- Cut bacon into pieces, and start the recipe by browning the bacon in your pot.
- Once cooked, remove bacon to plate, then add it back in at the end.
- Sauté vegetables in the bacon drippings remaining in pot.
- Sauté onion.
- Add garlic, carrots, thyme, seasoning.
- Add tomatoes and simmer.
- Add lentils, broth, and bay leaves. Gently simmer until lentils are tender.
- Puree soup briefly with immersion blender.
- Stir in kale, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes. Partially cover the pot and cook kale. Stir in Parmesan. Serve hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan. ENJOY!
- To Store. Lentils soup will last for up to 5 days in refrigerator, stored in airtight container.
- To Reheat. Reheat in Dutch oven on stove on medium-low heat until hot, or in microwave.
- To Freeze. Great for a freezer meal, this soup can be stored in airtight, freezer-safe storage container (I love using Ziplock bags and laying them flat to freeze) for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Meal Prep Tip
Veggies can be prepped in advance to save on cooking time the day of. Peel and chop carrots and garlic, then store in container in fridge the day before cooking the lentil soup.
What to Serve With Lentil Soup
While the soup in itself is a complete and filling meal, a salad and/or bread would make for a classic combo.
- Bread. I think you gotta have bread with soup to dip and mop. Crock Pot Bread would work wonderfully.
- Salad. Try this soup with a side of Arugula Salad, Winter Salad or Beet Salad.
- Simple Protein. Try Air Fryer Chicken Breast or Baked Salmon in Foil.
Recommended Tools to Make this Recipe
- Dutch Oven. I love mine so much it has a name. This is also a great option and easier on the wallet.
- Wooden Spoon. My preferred tool for sautéing and stirring.
- Ladle. Serve it up!
Health and taste are not mutually exclusive.
Grab a big bowl, and lift a spoon to your wellbeing and comfort!
Frequently Asked Questions
There are many lentil varieties available and suitable for lentil soup. Use a firmer lentil, such as brown or green. I do not recommend red lentils for lentil soup as they break down easily, making the soup mushy.
Yes! Lentils are a legume.
No. You do not need to soak the lentils before adding them to the soup. Lentils are quick-cooking and don’t need a presoak the way more hearty legumes like beans do.
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow onion cut into ¼-inch dice
- 6 garlic cloves minced (about 2 tablespoons)
- 4 sprigs fresh thyme tied together with kitchen twine (or 1/2 teaspoon dried)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 4 medium carrots scrubbed and cut into ½-inch dice (peeling is optional)
- 1 15-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes in their juices
- 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
- 1 cup brown or green lentils rinsed with any shriveled lentils discarded
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 1/2 cups stemmed and chopped kale
- 2 teaspoons sherry vinegar or red wine vinegar
- 1 teaspoon honey or granulated sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes optional
- 1/4 cup finely grated fresh Parmesan plus additional for serving (omit or swap nutritional yeast to make vegan)
- In a Dutch oven or similar large, sturdy soup pot, heat the oil over medium low. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the onion is very soft and turning browned, about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, carrots, thyme sprigs, salt, and black pepper. Cook until the carrots are barely soft, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the diced and crushed tomatoes, bring to a simmer over medium-high heat, and let simmer 2 minutes.
- Add the lentils and stir to coat. Add the broth and bay leaves. Increase the heat to high and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and lower the heat to a gentle simmer. Let simmer, adjusting the heat as needed so the lentils simmer gently but do not boil, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, about 25 minutes. Fish out and discard the bay leaves and thyme bundle.
- With an immersion blender, puree the soup briefly to thicken it up a little but leave plenty of the lentils and vegetables intact (or you can transfer about 2 big ladlefuls to a blender, puree, then return to the soup).
- Stir in the kale, vinegar, honey, and red pepper flakes. Partially cover the pot, and let cook over low until the kale is tender, about 5 to 7 minutes. Stir in the Parmesan. Taste and adjust the seasoning as desired. Enjoy hot with a sprinkle of Parmesan.
- TO STORE: Lentils soup will last for up to 5 days in refrigerator, stored in airtight container.
- TO REHEAT: Reheat in Dutch oven on stove on medium-low heat until hot, or in microwave.
- TO FREEZE: Great for a freezer meal, this soup can be stored in airtight, freezer-safe storage container (I love using Ziplock bags and laying them flat to freeze) for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
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