This lentil soup is a tasty, hearty, and nourishing, Italian-inspired recipe made with easy-to-find ingredients.
It's an excellent everyday dinner and make-ahead meal, as you can store it for up to 5 days in the refrigerator and up to 3 months in the freezer.
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There are many ways of making lentil soup, and most countries have their version of it, seasoned with their local spices and herbs.
Our lentil soup is Italian-inspired, and it's so easy!
You can make it in three simple steps, in one pot, on the stovetop, with simple ingredients and fresh aromatic herbs such as rosemary and thyme.
First, we make the flavor base with celery, onion, and carrot. Second, we add the lentils, aromatics, and other ingredients and let it simmer until cooked.
Finally, we blend a small part of the soup before serving it. The result is a creamy, hearty, and comforting meal that is easy to make and perfect to make ahead as it keeps well for a few days.
You can serve it with a slice of toasted bread and grated parmesan on top or leave the dairy out; it's still outstanding and excellent as a vegan lentil soup.
Use olive oil to gently fry chopped onion, celery, carrot, and leek and make a flavor base that will add a ton of flavor to your soup.
This step is called "soffrito" in Italian or mirepoix in french, and it makes all the difference when making soups and stews.
You can chop the veggies by hand or pulse them until coarsely chopped with a food processor.
The leek is optional, but it adds character to the soup, so we recommend it.
We recommend using extra virgin olive oil for the flavor base.
You can use one or more sturdy aromatic herbs, best if fresh, such as rosemary, thyme, sage, and bay leaves to infuse the soup with a somewhat Mediterranean aroma.
We like to use all, and we tie them together with kitchen twine for easy removal.
You can substitute dry herbs for fresh ones. However, you'll need a lot less. Start with ½ teaspoon of each dry herb, taste, and add more if required.
We recommend using brown lentils, green lentils, Italian lentils, or french lentils for this kind of lentil soup because they keep their shape when cooked.
Red lentils, for instance, would fall apart and are not recommended for this recipe. However, they are excellent in our lentil curry or red lentil soup recipe.
When cooking with lentils, we prefer to use dry lentils; however, if you don't have much time to cook, you can replace them with canned ones and reduce the cooking time by half.
We use canned crushed or diced tomatoes. Chopped-up fresh ripe tomatoes are also excellent.
Lentils need a lot of water to cook, so we use reduced-sodium vegetable stock and water. The vegetable stock adds plenty of flavor to the soup.
If you don't have vegetable broth, you can use more water.
Add anything from spinach, Tuscan kale, curly kale, broccoli, bok choy, chard, Chinese cabbage, and savoy cabbage.
Our favorites are kale or spinach.
Note that spinach wilt and loses a lot more volume than other leafy greens like kale and savoy cabbage, so you might need to double the amount in our recipe card.
Serve it with
Toasted crusty bread brushed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil. You can add parmesan cheese or dairy-free cheese. Also good with sprinkled fresh parsley or coriander, and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
Start with the flavor base
Chop the carrot, onion, and celery into small chunks and cut the leek into slices.
To a large pot or dutch oven, add two tablespoons of olive oil, add onion, carrot, celery, and leek, and fry gently for 5 to 10 minutes, stirring often.
In-depth cutting instructions: cut the carrot in half lengthwise, then cut it in half again, then chop it into ⅓ inch pieces. Cut the celery stalk half lengthwise, then cut it into ⅓-inch pieces. Next, cut the onion in half, peel it, then chop it into ⅓-inch pieces. Finally, cut the leek half lengthwise, then slice it into not-too-thin half moons.
If the pan gets dry, add more oil or water.
While you wait, make a bouquet garni by tying rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, sage leaves, and thyme sprigs.
Also, rinse the lentils to remove dirt and check for small stones that might hide in them.
Add the lentils
Add vegetable stock, water, 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 simmer.
Cook on medium heat for about 30 minutes or until your lentils are cooked.
Make it creamy
When the lentils are tender and almost cooked, remove the herbs, and blend a small amount of the soup (about 2 cups of the soup) to have a creamier texture.
We use an immersion blender; you'll need just a few pulses to make the soup extra creamy.
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 wilt and lose most of its volume, so you'll need to add more than other leafy greens.
Stir and cook for about 10 minutes, until the greens are soft.
Ideally, let the soup cool down a little before serving it with some toasted bread rubbed with garlic, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil freshly cracked black pepper, and optionally grated parmesan cheese or dairy-free cheese.
Try toasting some slices of crusty bread, then rub it with fresh garlic, add a tiny pinch of salt, and a drizzle of good quality extra virgin olive oil.
The warm bread gets infused with a delicious garlic aroma that is wonderful with this lentil soup.
Alternatively, treat yourself to one of those crunchy alternatives:
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 and it's an excellent weeknight dinner and meal prep recipe.
Check out our lentil vegetable soup recipe.
Turmeric, lentils, and potatoes make a terrific meal that will warm your tummy and make you feel nourished, cozy, and fulfilled.
This one's probably our favorite lentil soup variation and we are sure your are going to love it.
Check out our turmeric lentil soup recipe.
Sweet potatoes and lentil soup
To make this lentil soup even more fulfilling, add two medium sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped in small dice.
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
You can add zucchini, green beans, and some extra carrot to the soup for an even more varied and springy flavor.
Add them with the lentils, as they'll need about 30 minutes to cook.
Grains and lentil soup
Whole grains such as barley, whole oats, whole grain rice, and even pasta are great mixed into the lentil soup and make this dish even more complete and fulfilling.
You can try cooking the grains directly in the soup, as most grains take about 30 to 45 minutes to cook (pasta takes much less).
However, if you don't want to risk it, you can boil your grains al dente in a separate pot, then add them to the lentil soup 10 minutes before it's done.
Make Ahead & Storage
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, often doubling the recipe, and store half of it in the refrigerator and half in the freezer.
Refrigerator: keep 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 for up to 3 months. Do not freeze multiple times.
Thaw: let defrost in the fridge over a few hours or overnight. To speed things up, you do so with the thawing function of your microwave.
Reheat: reheat in the microwave or a pot on the stove. Add some water if necessary.
You can make lentils soup with green, brown, black, or red lentils. For this recipe, green and brown lentils are best as they keep their shape better. If you like a creamier lentils soup, you can use red lentils. We have a dedicated red lentils soup recipe for you.
Yes, you can substitute green lentils for brown lentils as they have similar cooking time, texture, and flavor.
Green and brown lentils have a very similar taste and you won't be able to tell the difference between the two.
More Lentil Recipes
If you love cooking with lentils, have a look at these easy lentil recipes:
- Lentil bolognese: a rich, hearty, and elegant sauce that pairs perfectly with your favorite pasta.
- Morrocan carrot salad with lentils with a Mediterranean-inspired cumin dressing you'll love.
- Lentil curry: a creamy Indian-inspired recipe with a ton of flavor and aroma.
- Easy lentil pasta: a staple in Italian home cooking, pasta with lentils is cozy and delicious.
For more curries, stews, and soups, check out our soups category page.
- Immersion blender if you want your soup extra creamy
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion
- 1 stalk celery
- 2 medium carrots
- ½ leek optional
- 2 sprigs rosemary
- 3 sprigs thyme you can also add two bay leaves and sage leaves.
- 1 cup lentils brown or green
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 2 cups water add more as needed to fully cook the lentils
- 1 small can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 6 ounces leafy green of choice kale, spinach, chard, bok choi, savoy cabbage, Chinese cabbage
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- 4 twists pepper
- Chop carrot, onion, and celery into small chunks. Cut leek into slices.To a large pot or dutch oven, warm up the olive oil, add onion, carrot, celery, and leek, and fry gently for 5 - 10 minutes, stirring often.If the pan gets dry, add more oil or water.
- While you wait, tie rosemary sprigs, bay leaves, sage, and thyme together with kitchen twine.Also, rinse the lentils to remove dirt and check for small stones that might hide in them.
- Add vegetable stock, water, canned tomatoes, lentils, and herbs. Tie the kitchen twine to the pot's side.Season with salt and black pepper, stir, partially cover the pot and bring to a simmer.Cook for about 30 minutes or until lentils are cooked.
- When lentils are 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.
- Add the kale, chopped up into bite-size chunks.
- Stir and cook for about 10 minutes, until greens are soft.
- Serve with some toasted bread rubbed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil, freshly cracked pepper, and optionally grated parmesan cheese or dairy-free cheese.