Lentil Soup

4.95 from 38 votes
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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.

Try my minestrone, tomato basil, or French onion soups for additional warm meals with delicious flavor.

Best lentil soup recipe served in a white bowl.

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.

Mirepoix, a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and spices cooking in a pan.
Step 1. Bloom the spices

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.

Lentil selection

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.

Brown lentils cooking in large dutch oven.
Step 2. Cook the lentils

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.

Using a hand immersion blender in a pot of lentil soup.
Step 3. Puree the soup

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.

Whole pieces of lentils and tomatoes add texture to the soup.
Step 4. Add reserved lentils

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

Is lentil soup really good for you?

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.

Do lentils need to be soaked before making soup?

No, the lentil’s flat surface area and thin skin allow them to absorb water and tenderize quickly without soaking.

Can you freeze lentil soup?

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.

Two bowls of lentil soup served with crunchy slices of bread.

Recipe Science

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.

Lentil Soup

Craving a warm bowl of lentil soup? This nutritious Mediterranean-style recipe is easy to make and has amazing flavor with a nice contrast in texture.
4.95 from 38 votes
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time40 minutes
Total Time1 hour
Servings 4 servings
Course Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean

Ingredients 
 

  • 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

Instructions 

  • 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.

Notes

  • 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. 

Nutrition Facts

Serves: 4 servings
Calories 290kcal (15%)Carbohydrates 43g (14%)Protein 14g (28%)Fat 8g (12%)Saturated Fat 1g (5%)Sodium 1443mg (60%)Potassium 723mg (21%)Fiber 17g (68%)Sugar 8g (9%)Vitamin A 3693IU (74%)Vitamin C 13mg (16%)Calcium 73mg (7%)Iron 5mg (28%)

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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Jessica Gavin

I'm a culinary school graduate, cookbook author, and a mom who loves croissants! My passion is creating recipes and sharing the science behind cooking to help you gain confidence in the kitchen.

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4.95 from 38 votes (26 ratings without comment)

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20 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. Maria T. says

    This soup was perfect for a cold night. The flavors were so comforting and warm. It was perfect. It was easy to follow the recipe and the prep was minimal. I will make this again.

  2. Judy Caywood says

    Jessica I made this yesterday. It’s pretty and tastes delicious. My husband wants it OFTEN he said. I doubled the batch and it was perfect. As with all your recipes I follow them totally as your seasoning is always perfect.

    • Jessica Gavin says

      Saute the vegetables in the instant pot as directed. Cook on manual high pressure for 10 minutes, then carefully quick release. Puree as directed. Let me know how it goes!

  3. Ronelle CHETTY says

    This lentil soup is amazing. So easy and delicious.. I prefer mine a little spicy so I swapped out the paprika for a tsp of chili powder.. thanks for this great recipe

  4. Erin says

    Loved this soup! I have been trying to incorporate more vegetarian meals in our dinner rotation and made this last night determined my finicky 6 and 7 year old would at least try it.

    I served the soup with some sourdough bread. Both kids ate their entire bowls and took the rest for lunch today! YAY MOM WIN! (I will take whatever victories I can get these days!)

    This soup has great flavour and was very simple to make – definitely going into our regular dinner rotation.

    Thanks for sharing this great recipe Jessica!

  5. Lisa Slater says

    Wow, that was good! I made this soup last night, and I am so sad I didn’t double the recipe. My family (me, hubby, 2 kids 15 and 20) gobbled it down. My husband was asking for seconds, which I was sad to say didn’t exist. The flavor was top notch, and I like having a vegetarian option for those times when I need one. Will definitely make this again soon. A+

  6. Lynne Machalowski says

    This soup was yummy and so easy to make. Healthy and inexpensive, great option for the New Year cleanse I am doing!
    Thank you for this whole food plant based meal!

  7. Maria Estrada says

    My mother[92y/o and Very picky} ate a bowl. My husband and I 1 cup.
    Definitely, this will be on the menu again,

  8. dee says

    In step 4 do you add 4 cups of broth, and then add the other two cups in step 8. Step 4 sems to say that all 6 cups of broth are added in step 4

  9. Meagan says

    This was the best lentil soup I’ve had! Super flavorful, and my husband definitely approved. I multiplied the recipe by 1.5 so that we could have lunch leftovers and then some. Will definitely be adding this to our household menu. And don’t skip or go light on the lemon juice! It really brightens and brings out the flavors!