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!).
- 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
- 3–4 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.
- 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.
- Rinse your lentils well in a fine-mesh strainer before using them.
- 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.
- Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot or Dutch oven.
- Add the chopped onion, carrot, and celery with a big pinch of sea salt and cook until tender, about 5-6 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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).
- Add the tomatoes (if using).
- Let the pot simmer for about 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- Once the lentils are tender, turn off the heat and stir in the vinegar.
- Discard the bay leaf before pureeing and serving.
- 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.
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