This lentil soup is an easy, tasty, and nourishing Mediterranean-inspired recipe you can make in one pot with simple ingredients in about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on your lentils’ cooking time.

Our recipe combines rich and earthy lentils with veggies, aromatic spices, and herbs into a wholesome and comforting bowl of goodness.

Also, lentil soup is versatile; it is excellent for a weeknight dinner and meal prep as it keeps well for days.

Lentil soup with bread and spoon

Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.

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What is lentil soup?

Lentil soup with cheese and bread

There are many ways of making lentil soup, and most countries have their version seasoned with local spices and herbs.

From aromatic Moroccan lentil soup with cinnamon to nourishing North African Harira soup with lentils and chickpeas, from creamy Turkish lentil soup to Indian-inspired curry lentil soup, you have plenty of recipes to choose from on this blog.

But the lentil soup recipe we are showing you on this page is the one that kindled our love for lentils because it’s tasty, nourishing, and easy to make in one pot.

It’s a simple Mediterranean-inspired recipe with flavors that take you to the shores of Italy.

We make it with dry green or brown lentils, although you can also make it with black lentils or split red lentils and turn it into a delicious red lentil soup.

Lentil Vegetable Soup with a spoon held by Louise

While similar to our popular lentil vegetable soup that went viral on Instagram, this recipe is simpler, with fewer ingredients.

We like to serve it with a thick slice of crusty bread, lightly toasted and rubbed with garlic, and with a grating of parmesan cheese – of course, you can skip that if you are making a vegan lentil soup.

The recipe comes together in 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the lentil’s cooking time.

As a tip for extra creaminess, we recommend blending a small amount of soup before serving it.

Ingredients & Substitutions for Lentil Soup

Ingredients for lentil soup

Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Flavor Base

Any delicious homemade soup should start with a flavor base, a simple 5-minute first step that will boost the flavor of your dish.

That’s called “soffrito” in Italian or “mirepoix” in French, and it consists of sautéing the chopped vegetables in olive oil for a few minutes.

To make the perfect flavor base, you’ll need:

  • Extra virgin olive oil: substitute any other vegetable oil.
  • Onion: you can use white, red, or yellow onion. Substitute shallots for onion.
  • Celery: substitute celery seeds.
  • Leek: optional but delicious in lentil soup.
  • Garlic: use fresh garlic if possible.

Tip: If you don’t like chopping veggies or don’t have the time, you can buy pre-chopped mirepoix (or pre-chopped onion, celery, and carrots) in most grocery stores.

They sometimes are in the refrigerated section and sometimes in the frozen section.

Alternatively, you can pulse them in a food processor.

Fresh or Dried Herbs

You can use one or more sturdy aromatic herbs such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaves to infuse the soup with a somewhat Mediterranean aroma.

Fresh herbs or dried herbs both work fine.

If you use fresh herbs, you can tie them together with kitchen twine for easy removal. That’s called a bouquet garni.

If you use dried herbs, start with a smaller amount, as their flavor is more intense than fresh herbs.

Usually, 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of dried herbs is enough to add flavor to 4 servings of soup.

Spices

Spices are optional, and the lentil soup is delicious without them.

However, if you like spices, we recommend adding 1 teaspoon of ground cumin and 1 teaspoon of turmeric.

Add 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of red pepper flakes for a spicy kick.

Lentils

We use dry green lentils or dry brown lentils because they retain their shape and a pleasant bite. They also add a delicious earthy flavor.

Substitute canned lentils or steamed lentils for dry ones. In this case, you’ll need half the vegetable broth and half the cooking time.

Italian and French green lentils are our favorite, but you can use lentils from anywhere.

Substitute red or black lentils for green or brown ones, but avoid split red lentils as they cook too fast for this recipe and tend to lose their shape.

If you want to use split red lentils, we recommend following this red lentil soup recipe or lentil curry recipe.

Tomatoes

We use canned crushed or diced tomatoes.

Substitute fresh ripe tomatoes for canned. Chop them into dice before adding them to the soup.

Vegetable broth

Lentils need liquid to cook. You can use reduced-sodium vegetable stock or water.

The vegetable stock adds more flavor, but water is also excellent.

You can substitute chicken broth for vegetable broth if that’s your jam.

Leafy greens

Add your favorite leafy green. Anything from spinach, Tuscan kale, curly kale, broccoli, bok choy, Swiss chard, Chinese cabbage, and savoy cabbage.

Our favorites are kale or spinach.

Note that spinach wilts and loses a lot more volume than other leafy greens like kale and savoy cabbage, so you might need to double the amount written for kale in the recipe below.

Salt and Black Pepper

Season the soup with sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Serves well with

You can serve lentil soup with bread or a grain of your choice. It’s delicious with:

  • Crusty bread, lightly toasted, brushed with garlic, and drizzled with olive oil.
  • Pita bread, naan bread, or any other flatbread.
  • Basmati rice, wholegrain rice, or black rice.
  • Cooked farro, barley, quinoa, couscous, or amaranth.

You can amp up the flavor with:

Lentil soup in a white bowl

How to Make Lentil Soup (With Tips)

US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.

Make the flavor base

Coarsely chop the carrot, onion, and celery into small chunks.

Cut the leek in half lengthwise, rinse its layers under running water to remove dirt, then chop it into thin slices.

Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, leek, and sauté gently for 5 minutes, stirring often.

Add pressed garlic and spices (optional) and cook one more minute.

In-depth cutting instructions: cut the carrot in half lengthwise, then cut it in half again, then chop it into 1/3 inch pieces. Cut the celery stalk half lengthwise, then cut it into 1/3-inch pieces. Next, cut the onion in half, peel it, then chop it into 1/3-inch pieces. Finally, cut the leek half lengthwise, then slice it into not-too-thin half moons.

flavor base for the soup

While you wait, make a bouquet garni by tying rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, sage leaves, and thyme sprigs together. If you use dried herbs, you can skip this step.

Also, rinse the dry lentils to remove dirt and check for small stones that might hide in them.

Tip: dry lentils don’t require soaking, so you can use them immediately.

Fry the veggies in a casserole

Add the lentils

Add vegetable stock, canned tomatoes, lentils, and herbs. You can tie the kitchen twine to the pot’s side.

Season with salt and black pepper, stir, partially cover the pot, and bring to a boil on high heat.

Lower the heat and simmer on medium heat for 30 to 45 minutes or until your lentils are tender.

Note: The cooking time for lentils varies depending on their size and age. Taste them to check for doneness. As you extend the cooking time, you’ll need to add more vegetable broth.

Herb mix added to the soup

When the lentils are tender and almost cooked, remove the herbs and blend a small amount of the soup (about 2 cups).

We use an immersion blender; you’ll need just a few pulses to make the soup extra creamy.

blend some of the lentils

Add leafy greens

Add the kale, chopped up into bite-size chunks.

Note: you can use almost any leafy green, such as spinach, lacinato kale, curly kale, broccoli, bok choy, chard, Chinese cabbage, savoy cabbage, and more. Spinach wilts and loses most of its volume, so add more than other leafy greens.

Add kale to the soup

Stir and cook a few more minutes until the kale is tender then taste and adjust for salt before serving.

Lentil soup in a Dutch oven

Serving Suggestions

You can serve lentil soup with bread or grains as a nutritious main course.

Serve it with bread

We recommend letting the soup cool down a few minutes before serving it with some toasted bread rubbed with garlic, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked black pepper, and optionally a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese.

lentil soup served in a bowl with toasted bread

Other types of bread that work well with this soup are:

  • Focaccia bread with rosemary and sea salt.
  • Croutons: homemade in 15 minutes, crispy, and perfect for soups and salads!
  • Crostini: ready in 10 minutes, crusty and comforting with a bowl of soup.
  • Bruschetta with tomatoes and fresh garlic is an ideal appetizer or side dish idea!

Serve it with grains

This lentil soup is delicious next to a bowl of rice, farro, barley, or couscous. You can even stir the cooked grains into the soup.

Add a squeeze of fresh lemon, a sprinkle of parsley, and some pickled red onions to enhance its flavor.

Variations

Lentil vegetable soup

lentil vegetable soup with spinach

Another simple and delicious soup with dried or canned lentils and plenty of flavors from vegetables and herbs.

You can make it in about 45 minutes (less if you use canned lentils), and it’s an excellent weeknight dinner and meal prep recipe.

Check out our lentil vegetable soup recipe.

Turmeric Lentil Soup

turmeric and potatoes lentil soup

Turmeric, lentils, and potatoes make a terrific meal that will warm your tummy and make you feel nourished, cozy, and fulfilled.

This one’s another favorite lentil soup variation; we are sure you will love it.

Check out our turmeric lentil soup recipe.

Curry lentil soup

curry lentil soup with garlic, turmeric and lime wedges

Try this easy one-pot curry lentil soup with kale and potatoes.

It’s a mealprepfriendly recipe that stores well in the fridge for up to five days.

Check out our curry lentil soup recipe.

Moroccan lentil soup

Moroccan lentil soup with a silver spoon and pickled red onions

This is Louise’s favorite and our reader’s favorite lentil soup because it’s easy to make and combines interesting spices like cinnamon into a warm, comforting, and aromatic meal.

Excellent with yogurt and pickled red onions, it’s a must-try if you like lentils.

Check out our Moroccan Lentil Soup

Sweet potatoes and lentil soup

Add two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped in small dice, to make this lentil soup even more fulfilling.

They’ll cook in about 30 to 40 minutes so that you can add them to the lentils. Regular potatoes work, too.

Mixed vegetables and lentil soup

Add zucchini, green beans, and extra carrot to the soup for a more varied and springy flavor.

Add them with the lentils; they’ll need about 30 minutes to cook.

Lentil soup with spoon and bread

Storage & Make Ahead

Make Ahead: this lentil soup is an excellent recipe to make ahead as its flavor improves as the soup sits in the fridge. The next day, the soup is creamier, richer, and more flavorful.

We always make a big batch and store half of it in the refrigerator and half in the freezer.

Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Freezer: Let the soup cool down completely, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze it for up to 3 months.

Thaw: defrost it in the fridge over several hours or overnight. To speed things up, you can thaw it with the thawing function of your microwave.

Reheat: reheat in the microwave or a saucepan on the stovetop. Add some water if necessary.

Questions

Which color lentil is best for soup?

You can make lentil soup with green, brown, black, or red lentils.

For this recipe, green, brown, and black lentils are best as they keep their shape better.

If you like a creamier lentil soup, you can use red lentils. We have a dedicated red lentil soup recipe for you.

Do you have to soak lentils for soup?

You don’t have to soak lentils for soup. You can cook dry lentils right away without soaking them.

However, we recommend rinsing dry lentils under running water to remove dirt. Also, have a look for small stones that might hide between the lentils.

Can I substitute green lentils for brown lentils in soup?

Yes, you can substitute green lentils for brown lentils, as they have similar cooking times, textures, and flavors.

Which tastes better, brown or green lentils?

Green and brown lentils have a similar taste, and you won’t be able to tell the difference between the two.

More Soups With Legumes

Are you trying to include more legumes into your diet? Try one of these delicious soups:

More Lentil Recipes

Love cooking with lentils? Have a look at these easy lentil recipes:

For more curries, stews, and soups, check out our soups category page.

Lentil soup with greens and a silver spoon

Lentil Soup

By: Nico Pallotta
5 from 14 votes
This lentil soup is an easy, tasty, and nourishing Mediterranean-inspired recipe you can make in one pot with simple ingredients in about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the lentil’s cooking time.
Our recipe combines rich and earthy lentils with veggies, aromatic spices, and herbs into a wholesome and comforting bowl of goodness.
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 4 people
Course: First Course, Main Course
Cuisine: Mediterranean

Equipment

  • Immersion blender if you want your soup extra creamy

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 1 rib celery chopped
  • 2 medium carrots chopped
  • 1 leek thinly sliced, optional
  • 2 cloves garlic pressed
  • ½ teaspoon dried rosemary sub thyme or Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin + 1 teaspoon turmeric optional
  • 1 cup dried lentils brown or green – or 2½ cups cooked lentils; in this case you'll need half the vegetable broth
  • 6 cups vegetable stock add more as needed to fully cook the lentils
  • 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
  • 6 ounces kale or another leafy green like spinach or chard
  • 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
  • 2 twists black pepper

Instructions 

  • Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large pot. Add 1 large onion, 1 rib celery, 2 medium carrots, 1 leek (all chopped) and sauté for 5 minutes stirring often.
    flavor base for the soup
  • Add 2 cloves garlic (pressed), ½ teaspoon dried rosemary, and 1 teaspoon ground cumin and cook 1 more minute until fragrant.
    Fry the veggies in a casserole
  • Now add 1 cup dried lentils (rinsed under water), 6 cups vegetable stock, 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes, 1 teaspoon salt, 2 twists black pepper and cook for 30 – 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
    Blend 2 cups of the soup.
    Tip: if you use cooked or canned lentils, half the amount of broth and cut the cooking time in half.
    blend some of the lentils
  • Stir in 6 ounces kale (chopped) and cook for a few more minutes or until tender.
    Lentil soup in a casserole
  • Taste and adjust for salt. Serve with toasted bread or grains and a sprinkle of parmesan.
    Add a squeeze of lemon, pickled red onions, or chili oil for some kick.
    lentil soup served in a bowl with toasted bread

Notes

Nutrition information is for 1 serving of lentil soup out of 4 servings without bread or cheese.
STORAGE & MAKE AHEAD
Make Ahead: this lentil soup is an excellent recipe to make ahead as its flavor improves as the soup sits in the fridge. The next day, the soup is creamier, richer, and more flavorful.
We always make a big batch and store half of it in the refrigerator and half in the freezer.
Refrigerator: keep leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
Freezer: Let the soup cool down completely, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze it for up to 3 months.
Thaw: defrost it in the fridge over several hours or overnight. To speed things up, you can thaw it with the thawing function of your microwave.
Reheat: reheat in the microwave or a saucepan on the stovetop. Add some water if necessary.
ALSO ON THIS PAGE

Nutrition

Calories: 351kcal, Carbohydrates: 53g, Protein: 18g, Fat: 9g, Saturated Fat: 1g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 2g, Monounsaturated Fat: 5g, Trans Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Potassium: 1207mg, Dietary Fiber: 23g, Sugar: 10g, Vitamin A: 10006IU, Vitamin B6: 1mg, Vitamin C: 59mg, Vitamin E: 3mg, Vitamin K: 197µg, Calcium: 229mg, Folate: 334µg, Iron: 7mg, Manganese: 2mg, Magnesium: 123mg, Zinc: 3mg
Tried this recipe? Leave a comment below or mention @theplantbasedschool on Instagram. We are also on Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube, and TikTok.

If you liked this lentil soup, you might also enjoy:


Nico and Louise in the kitchen

Hi! We are Nico & Louise

Welcome to The Plant-Based School, a food blog with easy, tasty, and wholesome recipes.

Our aim is to help you and your family eat more veggies through delicious recipes with simple ingredients.

Easy right?

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Recipe Rating




5 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I made this soup for dinner tonight and it was phenomenal! My partner even said it was a top five dish that I’ve made. Love how veggie filled this recipe is and versatile – I originally found it when looking for a recipe to use up leftover celery and carrots. I’ll be adding this to our soup rotation!

    1. Wonderful, Ray – I’m delighted you both enjoyed the soup (top five, that’s fantastic!!) 🎉

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment here, we really appreciate it!

      All the best,
      Louise