Hearty Lentil Soup

Hearty Lentil soup

The earthy flavor of these protein-packed legumes shines in this basic rendition of lentil soup. Make sure to see the variations listed below the recipe. This is perfect as a soup centerpiece, served with crusty bread or fresh cornbread, and any kind of salad you enjoy.

4.5 from 2 reviews
Hearty Lentil Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan / healthy
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 8
The earthy flavor of these protein-packed legumes shines in this basic rendition of lentil soup. Make sure to see the variations listed below the recipe.
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 to 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 celery stalks, finely diced
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 large or 2 medium potatoes or 1 medium sweet potato, scrubbed and diced (peel only if you want to)
  • 1¼ cups dried green or brown lentils, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon salt-free all-purpose seasoning blend (like Frontier or Mrs. Dash)
  • 2 teaspoons sweet paprika
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 15- to 16-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • ¼ cup minced fresh parsley or cilantro, plus more, to finish
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onion and sauté over medium heat for 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the garlic, celery, and carrots and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes longer.
  2. Add the water, potatoes, lentils, seasoning blend, paprika, and bay leaves. Bring to a slow boil, then cover and simmer until the lentils and vegetables are nearly done, about 30 minutes.
  3. Add the tomatoes and parsley or cilantro, and simmer for 15 minutes longer over very low heat, or until some of the lentils are completely mushy, while others still hold their shape.
  4. Season with salt and pepper. If time allows, this soup benefits from allowing it to stand for an hour or so before serving to develop flavor. Just before serving, add a little more chopped parsley or cilantro, then heat through as needed.


Lentil-barley or lentil-rice soup: Add 1/3  cup pearl barley or brown rice when adding the lentils along with an additional cup of water, in place of the potato or sweet potato

Lentil soup with small noodles: In place of the potato or sweet potato, Cook 1 cup tiny shells or ditalini. Add to the soup with additional water as needed, and taste to correct seasonings.

Nutrition Information:
Per serving (made with sweet potatoes): 121 calories; 4g fat; 98 mg sodium; 19 g carbs; 6 g fiber; 4.6g protein

lentil soup


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  • Reply
    February 5, 2014 at 11:17 am

    If you have a newsletter, I would certainly like to receive it!

    • Reply
      February 5, 2014 at 11:22 am

      Hi Sunshine — I did have a newsletter until very recently, but I’ve been doing it for so long, I’m going to suspend it. I find it’s more efficient to communicate with my readers on Facebook on a daily basis. You can also subscribe to the site via the RSS feed (which you’ll see on the banner) if you want to get notifications of new e-mails in your in box. Thanks for your interest!

  • Reply
    February 5, 2014 at 11:34 am

    Is there a pressure cooker variation for those who didn’t soak lentils last night?

    • Reply
      February 5, 2014 at 11:38 am

      Helen, there’s no need to presoak or pressure cook lentils, as they cook up relatively quickly. Just add them to the recipe where indicated.

  • Reply
    February 5, 2014 at 11:36 am

    My all-time favorite lentil soup recipe is in one of your cookbooks (Vegetariania, I think). This one looks like it could come close or be even better. I’m going to make it (barley variation) today!

    • Reply
      February 5, 2014 at 11:37 am

      Thanks, Laurie! Hope you will enjoy it. Wow, you’ve been with me for a long time if you have Vegetariana!

  • Reply
    February 5, 2014 at 1:03 pm

    Thanks! New to dried beans. Started life wth dairy farmers, so I am learning as I go.

  • Reply
    Jane Johnson
    February 6, 2014 at 8:56 am

    A couple of points – cooking starchy foods – eg potatoes, pasta etc – at the same time as lentils can cause them to take longer to soften and lead to gas if they aren’t perfectly mushy – so best to add potatoes or quick starches after lentils are cooked – with the exception of rice that cooks at the same time!
    If you haven’t soaked your lentils overnight then use the coral red lentils, split, as they cook much more quickly and don’t need to be soaked – but remember to stir them well as they can catch and burn if they become dry.

    To make a useful seasoning you can use garam masala or a personal mix of turmeric (anti-cancer) cumin and coriander, and try adding a little coconut milk at the end for additional creaminess. This recipe gives itself to all root veg – parsnip, turnip, swede, as well as lovely carrots! a tiny knob of miso or some soy sauce added at the end of cooking (not if adding coconut milk or spices) is another flavour much appreciated!

    Thanks for this lovely lentil recipe, reminds me of how good, nourishing, cheap and tasty a hot hearty soup is for supper!

    • Reply
      February 6, 2014 at 8:59 am

      Thanks for your ideas and suggestions, Jane! Though I’ve never had an issue with the regular lentils cooking through. I love your spicing ideas and the addition of other root vegetables. And indeed, a splash of coconut milk would be wonderful!

  • Reply
    Heather Turnbull
    June 6, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    I was brought up in the country and drank litres of raw cow’s milk and water daily. We had food loaded with vegetables and organic fruit, only we didn’t know it was organic then. i ceased to drink milk In my early 20s but though I am not vegetarian, I lean that way. At age 50, my bone density scan was off the scale (high) and they had to repeat the test to check the result. I have just found your site and have enjoyed the discussions and tips. A couple more lentil type recipes for everyday use are always welcome too. Thank you Nava.

  • Reply
    December 2, 2014 at 5:15 pm

    Love this soup! I’ve always enjoyed your books and recipes. Thank you!

    • Reply
      December 3, 2014 at 11:29 am

      Thank you so much, Marcy!

  • Reply
    August 9, 2015 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for supper!

  • Reply
    January 26, 2016 at 2:10 am

    Just made this recipe (with barley) and it was absolutely delicious. Added a small head of cauliflower which made it that much heartier.

    • Reply
      January 27, 2016 at 10:15 am

      Thanks for your comment, Stella. Adding cauliflower is a great idea; thanks for sharing!

  • Reply
    October 5, 2016 at 10:32 am

    I love this recipe. I changed it just a little. I added 1 carton of Vegetable Broth (4 cups) and 2 cups of water. Oh so good!

    • Reply
      October 9, 2016 at 7:30 pm

      Thanks, Diane, glad you enjoyed it!

  • Reply
    Stephanie Krueger
    May 6, 2018 at 5:13 pm

    Very tasty…added a pinch of Gram Marsala, a shake of tarragon and a sprinkle of crystalized lemon. Serving over basmati rice. No salt because I’m on a salt-free diet.

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