Lentil Soup

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Craving a warm bowl of lentil soup? This Mediterranean-style 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.

Mediterranean-style lentil soup recipe

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, garlic is sauteed in extra-virgin olive oil. Cumin, coriander, and paprika are traditional spices that when bloomed in the oil, enhance the flavor of the soup. A portion of the soup is pureed, reserving some whole lentils to stir back in right before serving for a nice contrast of texture.

mirepoix, a combination of onions, carrots, celery, and spices

How to make lentil soup

  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat, saute onions, celery, and carrots.
  • Saute garlic, thyme, and spices until fragrant.
  • Add lentils, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, and pepper, bring to a boil.
  • Cover, reduce heat and simmer until lentils are tender.
  • Remove 1 cup of lentils and reserve.
  • Add more broth to the pan, puree using an immersion blender.
  • Stir in reserved lentils, and season with salt and pepper.
  • Top 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 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

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 shape 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 not necessary 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, along with garlic and thyme, adds strong aromatics to the soup.

A trifecta of bold spices like cumin, coriander, and paprika adds color and earthy flavor. I like to squeeze some fresh lemon juice into the soup right before eating. It adds a bit of bright acidity to the dish.

using a hand immersion blender in a pot of lentil 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

Can this be made in a slow cooker?

Yes! Saute all of the vegetables, herbs, and spices, then add them to the Crock-Pot. Cook under the lentils are tender, 7 to 9 hours on low setting, or 4 to 6 hours on 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 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.

two bowls of lentil soup served with crunchy slices of bread

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Bloom the dried spices

Blooming the cumin, coriander, and paprika in olive oil coaxes out the fat-soluble flavors. This process ensures that their flavors are bountiful in aroma and actually contribute to the taste of the lentil soup. Just be careful to briefly cook the spices in olive on a moderate heat so they don’t burn.

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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.
Pin Print Review
4.25 from 16 votes
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr
Servings 4 cups
Course Soup
Cuisine Mediterranean

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion, ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup diced celery, ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup diced carrots, ¼-inch 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-inch dice, divided
  • 1 cup dried lentils, brown or green, picked and rinsed
  • 6 cups vegetable broth, divided, plus 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 

  • Heat olive oil in a large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Once the oil is hot add the onions, celery, and carrots. Saute until vegetables are tender and onions or translucent, 5 to 6 minutes.
  • Add garlic, thyme, cumin, coriander, and paprika. Saute until fragrant, 30 seconds.
  • Add ½ cup tomatoes and lentils, stir and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add 4 cups of vegetable broth, bay leaf, and black pepper, bring to a boil.
  • Cover 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, reserve.
  • Add 2 cups of broth to the pot. Use a stick immersion blender and process until the soup is mostly smooth. Alternatively, lentils and broth can be processed in a blender.
  • Add more vegetable broth as needed.
  • Taste the soup, add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Simmer over medium heat until hot.
  • Add the reserved lentils and remaining chopped tomatoes and parsley, stir to combine.
  • Serve soup with lemon wedges.

Notes

  • Serving Size: 1 cup (240ml)

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Nutrition Facts
Lentil Soup
Amount Per Serving
Calories 290 Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat 8g12%
Saturated Fat 1g5%
Sodium 1443mg60%
Potassium 723mg21%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Fiber 17g68%
Sugar 8g9%
Protein 14g28%
Vitamin A 3693IU74%
Vitamin C 13mg16%
Calcium 73mg7%
Iron 5mg28%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

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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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8 Comments Leave a comment or review

  1. 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!

  2. 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

  3. 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,

  4. 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!

  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. 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!

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