This Mediterranean-style lentil soup recipe is easy to make! Simmer nutritious brown lentils with sauteed vegetables, herbs, and spices until tender. Then puree the flavorful mixture until smooth and top with fresh tomatoes and parsley.
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A comforting bowl of lentil soup is super easy to prepare on the stovetop. These flat and spherical-shaped legumes tenderize quickly when simmered in a flavorful broth, so no precooking is needed. This healthy vegetarian soup is packed with fiber, protein, and nutrients in every spoonful.
To develop the Mediterranean flavors, carrots, onions, celery, and garlic is sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil. Cumin, coriander, and paprika are traditional spices that enhance the soup’s flavor when blooming in oil. A portion of the soup is pureed, reserving some whole lentils to stir before serving for a nice texture contrast.
How to make lentil soup
This one-pot lentil soup recipe is ready to enjoy in just one hour! Start heating a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Saute the vegetable mixture, garlic, thyme, and spices until fragrant. Add lentils, tomatoes, vegetable stock or broth, bay leaves, and pepper, and bring to a boil.
Cover, reduce heat, and simmer until the lentils are tender. I like to remove 1 cup of lentils to add interesting texture, then puree until smooth. Stir in reserved lentils and season with salt and pepper. Garnish with diced tomatoes and parsley.
This soup can be made with any type of lentils. However, I recommend brown or green because they have a deliciously mild and earthy flavor with a creamy texture when pureed. They also hold their circular shape when cooked. This allows for a smooth base, with hearty pieces suspended in the soup.
If you want a super creamy and smooth texture, use red lentils, as they completely break down when cooked.
Do you have to soak lentils before cooking them?
No! Compared to other dried legumes like black beans, kidney, or garbanzos, you do not need to soak them before cooking. The small, flat, and round shapes of the lentils have a large surface area, so they cook a lot quicker than larger, thicker beans.
Green, brown, black, or French lentils can be soaked to reduce the cooking time by about half, but it’s unnecessary since they cook in less than 40 minutes in the soup.
Enhancing the flavor
Lentils are very mild and bland in flavor, so they need a little help by using vegetables, spices, and herbs. I like to add a mirepoix, a combination of onions, carrots, and celery, when making soups or stews. Sauteing them in high-quality olive oil and garlic and thyme adds strong aromatics to the soup.
A trifecta of bold spices like ground cumin, coriander, black pepper, and paprika adds color and earthy flavor. For a richer flavor, add chicken stock instead of vegetable stock. I like to squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the soup before eating. It adds a bit of bright acidity to the dish.
For a contrast in textures
To make the soup more interesting, I like to create a smooth and creamy texture by pureeing it with an immersion blender. You can also use a countertop blender to create an ultra-silky consistency. For a contrast in texture, reserve a cup of diced vegetables and whole lentils to stir back into the soup.
Can this be made in a slow cooker?
Yes! Saute the vegetables, herbs, and spices, then add them to the Crock-Pot. Cook under the lentils are tender, 7 to 9 hours on the low setting or 4 to 6 hours on the high setting. Follow the instructions on pureeing. Add more liquid and salt/pepper as needed.
Storing and freezing
This soup can be stored in individual portions or in a large airtight container for up to one week. Make sure that the soup is cooled down completely before refrigerating. Small containers can also be frozen for up to 30 days.
Serve this with
Frequently asked questions
A serving of lentil soup makes for a low-fat and hearty meal option. The lentils are high in fiber, deliver a vegetarian and vegan protein source, and contain vitamins and minerals like potassium, folate, and iron. Adding mixed vegetables makes for a flavorful and healthy combination.
No, the lentil’s flat surface area and thin skin allow them to absorb water and tenderize quickly without soaking.
Cool the soup, then portion them into resealable plastic bags. Freeze them laying flat so that they solidify and defrost faster. Freeze for up to 5 months.
Bloom the dried spices
Blooming the cumin, coriander, and paprika in olive oil coaxes out the fat-soluble flavors. This process ensures their flavors are bountiful in aroma and contribute to the lentil soup’s taste. Just be careful to briefly cook the spices in olive on moderate heat so they don’t burn.
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼" dice
- ½ cup diced celery, ¼" dice
- ½ cup diced carrots, ¼" dice
- 1 tablespoon minced garlic
- 1 teaspoon chopped thyme
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon paprika, sweet or smoked
- 1 cup diced tomatoes, ¼" dice, divided
- 1 cup dried lentils, brown or green, picked and rinsed
- 6 cups vegetable broth, or stock, divided, more as needed
- 1 bay leaf, fresh or dried
- ¼ teaspoon black pepper
- kosher salt, as needed for seasoning
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
- lemon wedges
- Bloom the Spices – Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once hot, add the onions, celery, and carrots. Saute until tender and onions are translucent, 5 to 6 minutes. Add garlic, thyme, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
- Cook the Lentils – Add ½ cup tomatoes and lentils, stir and cook for 30 seconds. Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, bay leaf, and black pepper, and bring to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce to medium-low heat. Simmer until lentils are tender, about 30 to 35 minutes. Most of the broth should be absorbed.Remove the bay leaf and discard it. Remove 1 cup of the lentil mixture from the pot and reserve.
- Puree the Soup – Add 2 cups of broth to the pot. Use a stick immersion blender and process until mostly smooth. Alternatively, lentils and broth can be processed in a countertop blender. Add more vegetable broth as needed. Taste and season with salt and pepper as desired. Simmer over medium heat until hot.
- To Serve – Add the reserved lentils, remaining chopped tomatoes, and parsley, then stir to combine. Serve with lemon wedges.
- Recipe Yield: About 4 cups
- Serving Size: 1 cup (240ml)
- Storing: Cool and store in an airtight container for up to 5 days.
- Freezing: Portion and store in a resealable plastic bag for up to 5 months. Defrost before using.
- Reheat: Cook on the stovetop over medium heat, occasionally stirring, until hot. Add more water if needed to thin out the consistency.
Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000-calorie diet. All nutritional information is based on estimated third-party calculations. Each recipe and nutritional value will vary depending on the brands you use, measuring methods, and portion sizes per household.
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