ELIZABETHRIDER

Get Your

a $27 value; free for a limited-time

New Here?

New Here? Grab a free copy of my Top 10 Healthy Dinner Recipes eBook now!

Free!

YEs, SEND iT!

Recipe Ebook

Get my 10 BEST easy, healthy, delicious dinner recipes—WEEKLY MEAL PLAN included!

Top 10
Healthy
Dinner
recipes

Just fill out this form to receive your eBook.

Healthy + Easy Lentil Soup Recipe [with Vegan Option]

lentil soup recipe

There is nothing worse than coming home after a long workday and trying to find a healthy, easy recipe. 

This lentil soup recipe has been a major win in my household for any weeknight. It’s quick, has the most delicious flavor, AND is packed with vital nutrients.

What’s not to love?!

This lentil soup recipe is incredibly easy to make and so inexpensive. It is seriously one of my favorite main dishes to make for a quick dinner.

Even with organic ingredients, you can make a giant pot of soup that will feed 6-8 people for less than $10. Sign. Me. Up!

What are lentils? Lentils are legumes, similar to peanuts and soybeans. The pulse (dry, edible seed) is what we traditionally think of as a lentil.

Lentil Soup Is a Nutritional Powerhouse

Lentil soup combines the nutrients, protein, good carbohydrates, and fiber in lentils with the antioxidant power of veggies, herbs, and spices. Adding a little healthy fat from the extra virgin olive oil rounds it out into a perfectly balanced meal.

Lentils are especially high in B vitamins and minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and zinc. This soup recipe is also low in sodium and contains little-to-no saturated fat.

In fact, many nutritionists consider lentils one of the healthiest superfoods that you can eat, especially on a tight budget.

Lentil soup is so flexible and can be made in a huge variety of ways. While I prefer to make this soup on the stovetop to bring out each ingredient’s flavor while sauteing, you can just throw it all in a slow-cooker and come home to a great meal.

When paired with the other ingredients and optional vegetables, this lentil soup is packed with vitamin A, B vitamins, and dozens of minerals. I call that a win!

Choosing Which Lentils to Use

I like to use the small dark green lentils (aka French lentils) because they’re sturdy and cook quickly. Regular green lentils are also fantastic here (I buy mine on Thrive Market at a great price.)

All lentil varieties work great in this recipe and are very nutritious, so try different types (red, green, etc.) and find what you like best.

Red lentils cook down extra soft, while green and black lentils will hold more bite. Brown lentils also cook quickly but lose their shape more than green lentils, resulting in a more mushy soup.

Soaking Lentils

Do lentils need to be soaked? Unlike other pulses, it’s not necessary to soak lentils before cooking them. You may still choose to soak them for benefits to the cooking time or to make them easier to digest. Really, it’s up to you.

Lentils need a little more cooking time if you don’t soak them, but it’s generally not a problem. If you haven’t had time to think ahead, still give them a good rinse in a fine-mesh colander and inspect them for any hard shells or rocks, as lentils are stored in big drums and can accumulate dust particles. But i’s totally ok if you don’t have time to soak them.

On the flip side, lentils will cook faster if you soak them. Soaking lentils can also make them easier to digest. If you find that lentils make your tummy grumble or give you gas, then consider soaking them for 12-24 hours.

Always discard the soaking water and rinse the lentils before proceeding with cooking.

Are Lentils Gluten-Free?

Lentils are naturally gluten-free. However, always make sure to read your labels—some lentils may be processed in a facility that processes items with gluten.

Lentils vs. Rice

Are lentils better than rice? While each has its own distinct taste and texture, I prefer using lentils more, as they are healthier and contain more protein. Lentils are also slightly lower in carbohydrates and higher in dietary fiber than rice.

Ways to Customize This Recipe

Think of this lentil recipe as a guide and method to making lentil soup— it’s absolutely delicious as written—and super flexible, too.

Feel free to add any herbs, spices, or veggies that you’d like and make it your own. If you’re adding extra veggies, add an extra 1/3 cup of liquid for every 1/4 cup of veggies you add. You can also eye it and add liquid (water or stock) as needed.

I love to make a side dish of cornbread or crusty bread to go with this lentil soup recipe, which pairs beautifully.

Here are a few ideas on how to customize this lentil soup:

How to Make This Lentil Soup Vegan

To make this recipe a completely vegan lentil soup, simply substitute the chicken broth for vegetable broth or vegetable stock.

How to Add More Protein To This Lentil Soup

Use protein-rich bone broth (aka long-simmered chicken stock) to add even more protein to this dish. You can make your own, which takes 12-48 hours, or find it at most grocery stores.

How to Add More Flavor

If you aren’t looking for a vegan dish, in particular, a quart of chicken stock deepens the flavor of this dish (I recommend it!). You can find quarts of high-quality chicken stock at just about any store. I prefer organic, but choose what you can.

Flavor Variation Ideas for Lentil Soup

  • Red Lentil Soup With Lemon
  • Red Lentil Soup with Turnip and Parsley
  • Vegetable Lentil Soup
  • Turmeric Lentil Soup
  • Carrot & Coriander Lentil Soup
  • Lentil Potato Soup

What can I add to lentils for flavor? Again, this recipe is delicious as written, but if you’re like me and make it almost every week in the cooler months, then here are some ideas to mix it up and add more flavor:

  • Swap out the cumin and oregano for 2 teaspoons of your favorite curry powder or turmeric for a delicious curried lentil soup dish. If you want a slightly smoky flavor, try adding ½ teaspoons of smoked paprika.
  • Add a chopped sweet potato (chop it into ½ inch cubes) plus 1 cup more water or stock to add a little sweetness and texture.
  • Add a giant handful of fresh baby spinach and let it wilt in. Or, saute up some heartier greens like kale or rainbow chard before adding to the soup.
  • When craving more veggies, I love to add zucchini and squash to make this a lentil vegetable soup. If you have extra carrots that you need to use up, add a few more chopped carrots with additional stock or water (see ratios above) to turn this into a carrot and lentil soup.
  • Because this soup is so versatile, garnish with fresh parsley, cilantro, or add a dash of red pepper flakes for an added kick. If you tolerate dairy, try adding a sprinkle of parmesan cheese for an extra boost of flavor.
  • I also love adding a squeeze of lemon juice if I think the soup needs a little zip. Plus, this also adds a dash of vitamin C, so why not?

Once you get the hang of it, making this easy lentil soup recipe will be in your weekly rotation. Enjoy!

Tip for Making the Best Lentil Soup

There is honestly no perfect way to make this soup, and that is what I LOVE about it. However, I have found a handy tip for making this the best lentil soup:

Do not overcook the lentils.

Whether this is your first time making lentil soup or your thousandth time, I cannot stress this enough. Make sure to not overcook the lentils, or else they will become extremely mushy.

That will not affect the taste of this yummy soup, but the mushy lentils thicken the soup and give it a different, less pleasant consistency.

How to Make Lentil Soup in an Instant Pot or Slow Cooker

I like this recipe best on the stovetop because following each individual step brings out the most flavor from each ingredient.

However, if you’re in a rush, toss all of the ingredients into a slow-cooker or pressure cooker (I love my Instant Pot for times like this) and set it on low for 5-6 hours or high for 3-4 hours. Blend part of the soup if desired before serving.

Print
clock clock iconcutlery cutlery iconflag flag iconfolder folder iconinstagram instagram iconpinterest pinterest iconfacebook facebook iconprint print iconsquares squares iconheart heart iconheart solid heart solid icon
lentil soup recipe

The Best Lentil Soup Recipe [with Vegan Variation]

  • Author: Elizabeth Rider
  • Prep Time: 15 mins
  • Cook Time: 1 hour
  • Total Time: 1 hour 15 mins
  • Yield: 8 1x
  • Category: Lunch, Dinner
  • Method: Simmer
  • Cuisine: American

Description

This easy lentil soup recipe is a family favorite! It’s super flexible and always delicious. 

How do you make lentil soup from scratch? You’ll just need 6 cups of liquid total. Use up any stock or broth you have on hand with water if needed (e.g., 3 cups stock with 3 cups water). The more stock you use, the more flavor it will have. 

See the notes below for ideas and flexible substitutions. If you like this lentil soup recipe, please leave a star rating in the comments below for other readers in our community (thank you in advance!).


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1-quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock or bone broth)
  • 2 cups filtered water
  • 1 ½ cups lentils, rinsed (soaking is optional)
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 small yellow or white onion, finely chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
  • 1 large carrot, finely chopped or grated
  • 34 cloves garlic, finely chopped or pressed
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (aged balsamic also works)
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt (I use Real Salt), more or less to taste
  • ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (about 5 spins in a pepper grinder)
  • Optional: 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or one 12 oz. can of organic diced tomatoes)
  • Optional: Any greens you’d like to add, look for something in season and at a reasonable price at the store. Spinach is always a great option and has a mild flavor. We like 1 handful of greens per serving.

Instructions

  1. Spread the lentils out on a large sheet tray and pick out any debris (aka anything that doesn’t look like a lentil). Legumes are harvested and stored in large quantities, and sometimes little rocks or other things make their way in the bag. 
  2. Rinse your lentils well in a fine-mesh strainer before using them.
  3. If you choose to pre-soak your lentils (I don’t, but many people do): 
    • Pour the lentils into a large bowl and cover with purified water by 2 inches. 
    • If you’ve thought ahead enough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it on the counter for 12-24 hours. 
    • Drain the lentils and rinse them well before using them.
  4. Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven. 
  5. Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery with a big pinch of sea salt and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes.
  6. Lower the heat down to medium-low (to prevent the garlic from burning) and add the garlic, cumin, oregano, another pinch of salt, and a few spins of freshly ground black pepper. 
  7. Stir and let cook another 2-3 minutes until the mixture is very fragrant. (Be careful not to burn the garlic—turn the heat down to low if necessary, as garlic burns easily.)
  8. Add the bay leaf, 1 teaspoon of salt, a few more spins of black pepper, stock, water, and rinsed lentils to the pot and bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. The amount of salt you need will depend on what type of stock you use; start with one teaspoon and add more later to taste if desired. If your stock is not salted, you may need up to 2 (or more) teaspoons).
  9. Add the tomatoes (if using).
  10. Let the pot simmer for about 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are soft. 
  11. Once the lentils are tender, turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar. 
  12. Discard the bay leaf before pureeing and serving.
  13. Depending on how you like the texture, use a handheld immersion blender to blend 1/3 to 1/2 of the soup. Skip the blending if you prefer a firmer soup texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender, puree 2 cups of the soup in a regular blender or food processor; include some of the soup’s liquid to blend smoothly. Or, blend the whole thing up in a high-speed blender (in batches) to make a silky smooth lentil soup.

Lentil soup keeps in the fridge for about 5 days and freezes well in an air-tight freezer-safe container for up to 3 months.


Notes

Be very careful when blending hot mixtures. Never fill the blender/food processor more than 1/4 the way full, as hot liquids expand when blending.

If waiting longer than one hour to serve, leave the soup pot on the stove but turn the burner to the lowest setting. You can leave it on the stove for 2-4 hours. If it gets too thick, just add another 1-2 cups of water. This recipe is really that flexible.

Keywords: Lentil Soup Recipe, Lentil Recipe

Have You Made This Lentil Soup Recipe?

I can’t wait to hear from you and how you like this recipe. Make sure to comment below and give it a star rating.

MORE LENTIL RECIPES:

MORE SOUP RECIPES YOU’LL LOVE:

lentil soup recipe

Show / Hide Comments

Add A Comment

  1. Hector says:

    I don’t usually enjoy lentils. But this recipe is perhaps the best I’ve made. Very easy to follow, and my wife enjoys it a lot. A vegetarian, she’s very picky about what she eats.
    She has pretty much made a Downs for it every other week.
    Thank you,

  2. johnvictor says:

    When I’m feeling lazy but want something healthy, one of my go to dishes is to cook some lentils as the bag directs, but adding a bunch of salt, pepper, curry powder, garlic powder and onion powder. You can walk away and let it simmer until it’s done. Then I just throw it in a bowl, stir in some lemon juice (bottled stuff works fine) and add a big dollop of plain Greek yogurt to the top. Yum. Looks a little like dog food, but it tastes delicious, it’s cheap, uses barely anything except spices and lentils. Tons of protein and fiber. If I’m really hungry I also add a hardboiled egg.

  3. Sarah Laudico says:

    Elizabeth, do you have nutritional information for this soup? Making it for dinner tonight and I track every thing in myfitnesspal! Thank you

  4. Delores Cotton says:

    Tried several receipes and yours was not only the best but also easy to follow thanks 😊

  5. Frances says:

    This was truly delicious! It’s hearty and flavorful, and the lentils are really satiating. I used regular brown lentils, did not soak them, nor did I blend them at the end. Thank you Elizabeth!

  6. Macie Frederick says:

    I like your lentil soup recipe except for the hand full of spinach at the end because spinach contains a lot of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid binds with minerals especially calcium and prevent minerals from being utilized properly. Southerners blanch their greens for 30 seconds, remove from the hot water then immerse them in ice or very cold water . Then squeeze them and chop them and cook however they want them. Having a southern grandma and a Japanese mother, they both agreed this was the proper way to cook greens. The Japanese say that you will get kidney stones if you don’t blanch your greens. Mom would toast and grind sesame seeds and mix them with a little sesame seed oil and soy sauce to pour over cold blanched spinach to eat as a side or put in sushi rolls. Only turnip and mustard greens do not need to be blanched. I recently read that many people were found to have high levels of oxalic acid. There was no other information as to why. I studied nutrition in college where I learned about oxalic acid. So I will add some blanched spinach to my lentil soup.

  7. Connie says:

    Made your easy lentil soup. Everyone raved about it, came out excellent. I added a pinch of thyme and rosemary, only difference. Thank you.

  8. Alyssa says:

    Was searching for a lentil soup recipe without tomatoes and decided to give this one a try last night. Was a hit with 3 out of 4 of us… not too bad since the little guy is pretty picky so he doesn’t count. My 8 year old went back for a third serving! Thank you 🙂

  9. Lisa says:

    Just made this soup for dinner tonight. Delicious! Everyone loved it. Thanks so much!

  10. Angelia johnson says:

    I love the soup, so healthy and flavorful. please let me know the proper way to store it in the refrigerator. And how long can i keep it in the refrigerator? I’m the only one in the home who eats it.

    FYI: i add sweet potatos on the second day. So yummy!!

    Thanks

  11. LH says:

    Thanks for the great start. Perfect first time! I added Kale leaves at the end and that was a success. Forgot to puree it but it was great nevertheless.

  12. mary says:

    Do the lentils have to be boiled and rinsed first?

  13. Abby says:

    Hi Elizabeth, Do you have a vegetable stock (company) you can recommend or perhaps a recipe of your own you can share? Many thanks!

  14. nikigombis says:

    What is the, “onion half*, (see image below)”, all about, Elizabeth? It’s in step 4. Thank you for this yummy recipe. Very much like mine but now I have a recipe to give out.

  15. Joanna says:

    Looks yummy Elizabeth! Quick question, last time I cooked lentils (red, I believe) I soaked them and cooked them and they turned to mush even following cooking instructions. I thought may be the soaking caused this, I’m confused. Thoughts?

  16. Angie Toy says:

    I just bought some lentils at Trader Joe’s last week to make soup, but still needed a recipe – perfect!

  17. margot tenenbaum says:

    I woke up to a cold, dreary, and wet day, wanting to make a soup, and found this gem in my inbox! Lucky me, and many thanks, Elizabeth!

  18. mjd0745@live.com says:

    I woke up to a cold, dreary, and wet day, wanting to make a soup, and found this gem in my inbox! Lucky me, and many thanks, Elizabeth!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Recipe rating

I’m Elizabeth

meet the blogger

Instead of prescribing what I think you should do, I help you find what works for you.

The Details

A health expert, author, and creative entrepreneur

More