Lentil Soup

Meet the BEST lentil soup recipe! Made with dried lentils, fresh vegetables, flavorful spices, and hearty greens, it's simple, nourishing, and delicious.

Lentil soup

This lentil soup recipe might surprise you. Sure, it’s simple. But that doesn’t mean it’s bland or boring.

This lentil soup is packed with hearty greens, tender vegetables, and fiber- and protein-rich lentils. Fresh herbs and spices fill it with complex flavor, and a splash of vinegar adds a delicious tangy kick.

It’s not just my best lentil soup recipe—it’s one of my best recipes, period. It’s been a staple in my rotation for years. I love that it’s easy to make with mostly pantry ingredients and that it’s nourishing, warming, and satisfying. If you ask me, it’s the perfect healthy dinner for a winter weeknight (save any leftovers for lunch the next day!). I hope you love this classic lentil soup as much as I do.

Lentil soup recipe ingredients

Lentil Soup Ingredients

Here’s what you’ll need to make this lentil soup recipe:

  • Lentils, of course! I recommend using green or French green lentils because they hold their shape in the soup, adding satisfying texture. Brown lentils are also a fine option. Don’t use red lentils here—they’re too mushy for this recipe.
  • Extra-virgin olive oil – For richness.
  • Onion, garlic, carrot, and celery – They create the soup’s aromatic base.
  • Fresh kale – You’ll use the whole leaves, stems and all!
  • Fire-roasted diced tomatoes – I love the smoky flavor that fire-roasted tomatoes add to this soup. In a pinch, regular diced tomatoes will work here too!
  • Vegetable broth – Make homemade vegetable broth, or use store-bought.
  • Fresh thyme – For citrusy, woodsy flavor. I like to bundle whole sprigs together with kitchen twine. Then, I add the bundle to the soup like a bay leaf, removing it before serving. Bundling the sprigs like this is SO much quicker than picking and measuring the leaves.
  • Cumin – The secret ingredient! It adds savory, earthy depth of flavor.
  • White wine vinegar – It gives the soup a bright, tangy kick.
  • And salt and pepper – To make all the flavors pop!

Find the complete recipe with measurements below.


Don’t have these exact ingredients on hand? These swaps work nicely:

  • Replace the kale with another leafy green like fresh spinach or Swiss chard.
  • Use 1 teaspoon dried thyme instead of the fresh sprigs.
  • Replace the celery with 1 small fennel bulb, diced.
  • No vinegar? No problem. Finish the soup with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice!

Sautéing onion, carrot, and celery in Dutch oven

How to Make Lentil Soup

This lentil soup recipe is easy to make! Here’s how it goes:

First, sauté the aromatics. Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add the onion, carrots, celery, kale stems, and cumin. Season with salt and several grinds of pepper and cook, stirring occasionally, until the veggies soften, about 8 minutes.

Adding diced tomatoes to pot

Next, simmer the soup. Add the garlic, tomatoes, lentils, vinegar, thyme, and broth.

Adding lentils to soup pot with vegetables

Cover the soup and cook until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes or so. Adjust the heat as needed to maintain a gentle simmer.

How to make lentil soup - pouring broth into pot

Finally, add the greens. Cook until they wilt, about 5 minutes, and then season to taste.

Serve the lentil soup in bowls topped with garnishes like fresh parsley, grated Parmesan, and/or red pepper flakes. Enjoy with crusty bread!

Love cooking soup in the Instant Pot? I have an Instant Pot version of this recipe! Check out my Instant Pot Lentil Soup.

Stirring kale leaves into pot of lentil soup

How to Store Lentil Soup

Got leftover soup? You’re in luck! It will keep well in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days. Simply reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop.

I actually like this soup better leftover. The flavor only improves as it sits in the fridge!

Can you freeze lentil soup?

Yes, this vegan lentil soup is freezer-friendly! Allow it to cool to room temperature, and then seal it in airtight containers or jars, leaving an inch for the soup to expand at the top. Freeze for up to 3 months.

Best lentil soup recipe

More Favorite Soup Recipes

If you love this lentil soup, try one of these nourishing soup recipes next:

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Best Lentil Soup

rate this recipe:
4.97 from 584 votes
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Serves 4 to 6
This easy lentil soup recipe is healthy and delicious, filled with fresh veggies, herbs, and spices. Serve it with crusty bread for a simple weeknight meal! Skip the cheese to make this recipe vegan.



  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, celery, kale stems, cumin, salt, and several grinds of pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 8 minutes, or until the vegetables begin to soften.
  • Stir in the garlic, tomatoes, lentils, vinegar, thyme, and broth. Cover and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. Add the kale leaves and cook for 5 minutes, or until wilted.
  • Remove the thyme bundle and season to taste. Serve topped with the parsley, red pepper flakes, and Parmesan, if desired.


Store leftover soup in the fridge for up to 4 days. If it thickens too much in the fridge, stir in a little water while you reheat it to reach your desired soup consistency. This soup also freezes well.



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Rate this recipe (after making it)

  1. Lily

    5 stars
    I made this last night and it is fantastic. My husband, a few bites in, stopped to tell me to make sure I saved this recipe and I received several more compliments the rest of the evening. A definite winner. My only change was I added .5 cup less water.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Lily, ha ha, I’m so happy to hear it was such a hit!

  2. Margaret

    5 stars
    We love this recipe! Definitely will become a regular in my house. I added some chopped carrots and kale to bump up the vegetables, but otherwise wouldn’t change a thing.

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you loved it!

  3. brittney

    Are you able to substitute the green lentils with any other lentils ?

    Thanks !

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi, black lentils are a great sub. Red lentils will also work here, though they’ll be much softer and create a thicker soup than the green lentils would.

  4. Feather Billings

    5 stars
    We make this lentil soup weekly, and love it for many of the same reasons already mentioned. Quick and easy prep, simple ingredients and delicious leftovers! Thanks for sharing!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you’ve loved it!

  5. Floriane

    5 stars
    Did that one yesterday and everyone loved it! That recipe is definitely joining my everyday notebook! Thanks

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      I’m so glad you love the recipe!

  6. Mel

    Thank you for this versatile, easy to make recipe. Like others I bulked it up with a few extra veggies: sweet potato, carrot, red bell pepper. Added G Masala spice and turmeric for the heck of it, but wow. WOW! Thank you, thank you for a fantastic, adaptable, one dish family meal. Everyone was happy with this one!

    • Phoebe Moore (L&L Recipe Developer)

      Hi Mel, I’m so glad you love the recipe!

  7. Arias Juliana

    5 stars
    This soup is delicious 😋

    Do you have the nutritional value for this recipe?

    • Phoebe Moore

      Hi, we don’t calculate nutrition info for our recipes. If you like, you can plug it into an online nutrition calculator like MyFitnessPal. So glad you enjoyed it!

  8. nurp

    What can I substitute for lime in this recipe? I have variety of vinegars and lemon.

  9. Leah

    5 stars
    This is delicious! Thanks so much for the recipe. I did add some additional odds and ends from my veggie drawer, finely diced butternut squash and Lacinto kale. I also did not thin it down and served it with basmati rice. My family loved it.

  10. Stephanie

    SOOOO good! I added sweet potato, carrots, & jalapeño. So good. Will def make at least once every fall!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Yum! I’m so glad you enjoyed.

  11. Cynthia

    5 stars
    This soup was so wonderful!! Thank you!!

  12. Kate

    LOVE this lentil soup recipe–thank you! I use black lentils and fresh tomatoes and it turns out amazingly every time.

  13. Brandy Berger

    This is so so so good! I added Trader Joe’s croissant croutons and a touch of garlic yogurt. Fall is making me want to put some pumpkin in it. Fantastic recipe!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it!

  14. Cecily

    Question: I have cooked lentils on-hand, what would the recipe call for with cooked lentils?

  15. Ruth

    5 stars
    I can’t stop making this, and that is saying a lot for a lentil soup! Sooo good!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Ha ha, I’m glad you’ve loved it so much!

  16. Ingela

    I can’t find fire roasted tomatoes where I live, what would be the best substitute? Sundried, regular tomatoes? What do you think? The recipe looks awesome!

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Ingela, just regular canned diced tomatoes will work great.

  17. Nat

    I cooked the soup for at least an hour but my lentils turned out crunchy. Any advice?

    • Jeanine Donofrio

      Hi Nat, oh wow, an hour should be plenty. When beans and legumes are older they can take much longer to cook (or sometimes just never soften). It’s sometimes hard to know how long they’ve been on the shelf at a store. I would just keep simmering, they should soften.

    • Ellen

      It may also depend on your altitude. Anything dense will take much longer to cook. I live in Denver at 5,300 ft, and I usually have to double or triple the cooking time for lentils. (And larger beans take so long most people here use a pressure cooker or canned.)

    • Kirsty

      I find lentils don’t soften when salt is added, try adding salt at the end

  18. Bridget Cassun

    5 stars
    Delicious soup; so quick, easy and tasty. Definitely will be a favorite quick and hearty dinner!

  19. Meg Wiese

    5 stars
    Such a delicious and easy recipe. I should have added a bit more water but yummy thicker too!

  20. Kate Milke

    Loved this soup, so easy and didn’t need to sit for a day for all the flavor

A food blog with fresh, zesty recipes.
Photograph of Jeanine Donofrio and Jack Mathews in their kitchen

Hello, we're Jeanine and Jack.

We love to eat, travel, cook, and eat some more! We create & photograph vegetarian recipes from our home in Chicago, while our shiba pups eat the kale stems that fall on the kitchen floor.