Lentil Soup

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Thick and hearty Lentil Soup is packed with good-for-you ingredients: tons of veggies and lentils! This soup is incredibly filling and truly comfort in a bowl.

Looking for more ways to use lentils? Try adding some cooked lentils to this vegetarian shepherd’s pie or these vegetarian enchiladas.

Overhead image of a scoop of Lentil Soup in a ladle.

Anything-but-bland Lentil Soup

I’ve never been happy enough with a lentil soup  recipe to share it here until now. After making and eating (hi comfort food!) an embarrassing amount of batches this past week while being quarantined, I’m finally sharing what I think is the perfect lentil soup.

All the loose leftover ends of veggies I’ve had looming from my fridge were put to good use, and, if you’re in a similar boat, this is the perfect empty-the-fridge kind of meal. It’s loaded with veggies; I’m talking carrots, onion, celery, garlic, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes– whew! I mean, it’s practically a healthy detox vegetable soup with lentils!

The lentils make this soup ridiculously filling and also load it up with protein. With just the right amount of spices and a finishing drizzle of lemon, this soup is completely crave worthy. 

Process shots-- images of the veggies being cooked and the seasonings being prepped for Lentil Soup.

FAQs

What does Lentil Soup taste like? 

This soup is deeply savory with a rich sweetness from the fire-roasted tomatoes and seasonings. It also tastes fresh and lively thanks to the lemon juice and zest that are added in at the end. This soup is very thick, hearty, and filling.

What type of lentils are best for Lentil Soup?

You’ll want to use dried lentils for this soup; I use brown lentils and recommend brown or green lentils.

  • Brown/green lentils cook quickly (between 20 and 30 minutes) and will thicken the soup. They also lend a mild earthy flavor.
  • Red/orange lentils are more processed, break down quickly (about 20 minutes), and then turn mushy; this is ideal in a many Indian curry dishes where the lentils are meant to thicken the dish. You can use red/orange lentils in this soup, but the texture will be slightly mushier. 
  • Puy Lentils (French lentils) take nearly 45-50 minutes to cook through and are ideal in salads. French lentils in this soup would absorb too much liquid and overcook all the veggies, so I don’t recommend them.

What about canned lentils?

While I highly recommend using dried lentils (I think they provide a better end flavor and texture, plus they’re cheaper!), you can use cooked canned lentils. I’d recommend 1 can cooked lentils (drained and rinsed) added after the soup has already simmered for about 15 minutes. Simmer for another 10-15 minutes with the canned lentils, or until they’re tender.

Do lentils need to be soaked?

No! Lentils do not need to be soaked before using in this soup. For this recipe, we rinse them off and then they cook in the soup. Having the lentils cook in the soup lends a delicious flavor and hearty texture. In other recipes that call for lentils, soaking them can cut down cook time.

Is Lentil Soup good for you?

Lentils are a highly nutritious food. They are rich in minerals, protein, and fiber while also being low in calories.

Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s talk about how to make this soup!

Process shots-- images of the veggies being sautéed; the seasonings being added; and then the lentils being added.

Tips

  • Switch up the veggies. This soup is our absolute favorite exactly how it’s written, but feel free to swap in any veggies you need to use up. 
  • Change up the texture. If you’d like less texture in the soup, transfer about 2 cups of the cooked soup to a blender. Blend until smooth and then stir back in the soup.
  • Thin the soup. We like this soup thick and hearty, but if you’d like it thinner, add in some additional vegetable broth or stock.
  • Skim the surface of the soup. when cooking lentils, a froth will rise to the top. I like to skim this off with a spoon; it makes the lentils easier to digest. That froth/scum forms as a result of lentils releasing gas and enzymes as they cook.
  • Take your time. This soup requires quite a few steps before it can be left alone to simmer. Take your time sautéing the aromatics, toasting the spices, and sautéing the tomatoes; we’re adding layers of flavor.
  • Don’t forget the fresh ingredients. The freshly chopped parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice truly make all the flavors in the soup sing; I wouldn’t recommend leaving out any of these ingredients.
  • Finely dice or chop the veggies. In order for everything to cook in the right amount of time, we want the onion, celery, and carrot finely diced. The potatoes also need to be chopped small, into 1/2-inch or smaller cubes. The more evenly cut the veggies are, the more evenly they’ll cook (we don’t want some mushy and some hard).

Overhead image of Lentil Soup in the pot with a wooden spoon stirring it.

How to store leftovers

  • To refrigerate: Allow the soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Lentil soup will keep for 4-5 days properly stored. This soup makes a great weekly meal prep!
  • To freeze: Allow soup to cool to room temperature. Transfer to an airtight, freezer-safe container (leaving about an inch of room for expansion). Freeze up to 3 months. Thaw straight from the freezer on the stove top (reheat gently) or in the microwave. You may want to add an extra splash or two of broth as it will be thicker upon thawing.

Overhead images of Lentil Soup in a bowl with fresh Parmesan cheese on top.

What goes well with Lentil Soup?

  • A hearty dose of freshly grated Parmesan cheese (I like grating it fine on a microplane).
  • Dinner rolls or any warm, crusty, hearty bread (for dunking).
  • We love a side salad like this Italian salad.
  • Here’s a list of some other sides that go well with soup.

More soup recipes

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Lentil Soup

4.67 from 3 votes
This thick and hearty Lentil Soup is packed with good-for-you ingredients -- tons of veggies and lentils! This soup is incredibly filling and truly comfort in a bowl.
Print Recipe

Lentil Soup

4.67 from 3 votes
This thick and hearty Lentil Soup is packed with good-for-you ingredients -- tons of veggies and lentils! This soup is incredibly filling and truly comfort in a bowl.
Course Dinner, Main Course, Soup, Vegetarian
Cuisine American
Keyword lentil soup
Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 6 servings
Calories 257kcal
Cost $6.28

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 cup EACH: diced yellow onion, diced carrots (~1 small onion, ~2 medium carrots)
  • 1/2 cup diced celery (~1-2 stalks)
  • 1 heaping tablespoon minced garlic (~4 cloves)
  • 1 cup EACH: diced Yukon gold potatoes, diced sweet potatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2 teaspoons EACH: ground cumin, Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon EACH ground turmeric, ground paprika, freshly cracked black pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire roasted diced tomatoes
  • 1 can (14.5 ounces) fire roasted crushed tomatoes (or use an extra can of diced)
  • 3/4 cup brown or green lentils, (rinsed in cold water)
  • 1 container (32 ounces) vegetable broth
  • 1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock (or additional vegetable broth)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (½ to 1 medium lemon, to taste)
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped freshly flat leaf parsley
  • Serve with: freshly grated Parmesan cheese, crusty bread

Instructions

  • VEGGIES: Add the 1/4 cup olive oil to a large cast iron pot or Dutch oven and heat over medium. Once shimmering, add in the 1 cup diced yellow onion, 1 cup diced carrots (no need to peel), and 1/2 cup diced celery. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes. Add in the 1 heaping tablespoon of garlic, stir, and cook for 1 minute. Add in the 1 cup diced potatoes (gain, no need to peel) and 1 cup diced sweet potatoes (I do peel these). Stir to coat everything in the oil and cook for 3 minutes.
  • SEASONINGS: Add in the 3 tablespoons tomato paste and all the seasonings: 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon yellow curry powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon paprika, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir, toasting the seasonings and coating all the veggies. Cook for 2 minutes. Add in the undrained fire-roasted diced tomatoes and undrained fire-roasted crushed tomatoes. Cook for 2-3 more minutes, stirring frequently, to bring out all the flavors.
  • LENTILS: Rinse the lentils in cold water in a fine mesh sieve. Add the 3/4 cup lentils, the 32- ounce container of vegetable broth, and 1 and 1/2 cups chicken stock (or additional vegetable broth) into the pot. Stir in the 2 bay leaves.
  • COOK: Increase the heat and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, you'll see some bubbles or froth at the top of the pot. Skim this off with a spoon and discard. Stir the soup, and then reduce the heat to medium low, so the soup is gently simmering. Partially cover the pot with a lid, leaving some room for steam to escape. Cook for 25-30 minutes or until lentils are tender (they should still hold their shape).
  • OPTIONAL (CREAMIER TEXTURE): Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a high powered blender. Securely fasten the lid and blend until smooth (watch out for steam!). Pour the blended soup back into the pot and stir. We occasionally do this, but also enjoy the texture of all the veggies -- up to you what you prefer!
  • FINISHING: Remove the pot from the heat and add in 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and adjust seasonings; add additional lemon juice if desired, salt and pepper if needed, and/or a pinch of red pepper flakes. Stir in the 1/3 cup freshly chopped parsley.
  • SERVE: Serve while hot. Top individual bowls with freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Leftovers will keep (stored properly in an airtight container) for about 4-5 days in the fridge.

Recipe Notes

Tips:
  • Thin the soup. We like this soup thick and hearty, but if you'd like it thinner, add in some additional vegetable broth or stock.
  • Skim the surface of the soup. When cooking lentils, a froth will rise to the top. I like to skim this off with a spoon; this makes the lentils easier to digest. That froth forms as a result of lentils releasing gas and enzymes as they cook.
  • Take your time. This soup requires quite a few ingredients to saute and toast before it can be left alone to simmer. Take your time sauteing the aromatics, toasting the spices, and sauteing the tomatoes; these extra steps add layers of flavor.
  • Don't forget the fresh ingredients. The freshly chopped parsley, lemon zest, and lemon juice truly make all the flavors in the soup sing; I wouldn't recommend leaving any of these ingredients out.
  • Finely dice or chop the veggies. In order for everything to cook in the right amount of time, we want the onion, celery, and carrot finely diced. The potatoes also need to be chopped small -- into 1/2-inch or smaller cubes. The more evenly cut the veggies are, the more evenly they'll cook (we don't want some mushy and some hard).

Nutrition Facts

Serving: 6servings | Calories: 257kcal | Carbohydrates: 36.3g | Protein: 8.8g | Fat: 9.9g | Sodium: 398.1mg | Fiber: 6.3g | Sugar: 8.3g

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10 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    Truly, this lentil soup is a comfort in a bowl. Such well written recipe and the pictures are so lively and lively. Thanks

  2. I have quarantine issues…How important are the “fire-roasted” part of the diced tomatoes? Would 29 ounces of just diced tomatoes work?

      1. 5 stars
        It turned out great without the “fire roasted” tomatoes…absolutely delicious…such a great rich comforting flavor, thank you Chelsea!

  3. This was so delicious!!
    I couldn’t find roasted canned tomatoes anywhere , so I substituted the normal Paprika with Smoked Paprika and it gave it the Smokey flavour. I was also a bit cheeky and put some Spicy Spanish sausage mince in the soup. I fried it up with the onions. I did this for my husband, who needs it a little bit more filling.
    We will definitely being making this again! Thank you

  4. I have quite a lot of dried lentils in the emergency food stash I put together in the spring. This recipe reminds me I need to use and replace emergency supplies rather than waiting for Armageddon!

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