This soup recipe was a long time coming! Over the years, I made some lackluster lentil soups that never saw the light of day on this website. No vegetarian food blog would be complete without a proper lentil soup, though, so I perfected one of my own.
Here it is. My lentil soup is made with mostly pantry ingredients but includes hearty greens and a squeeze of lemon for bright, fresh flavor. It’s seasoned with a few of my favorite spices and plenty of freshly ground black pepper. Honestly, it’s the best lentil soup I’ve ever had.
The original title of this recipe was “Spiced Vegan Lentil Soup,” which is accurate, but a mouthful. With over 500 five-star reviews, I think it’s safe to call this the Best Lentil Soup. Period.
Whether you’re looking to lighten up your meals or warm up with a steaming bowl of soup, this healthy lentil soup recipe is for you! It’s one of my all-time favorites and I hope it becomes a staple in your kitchen as well.
How to Make the Best Lentil Soup
Five reasons to love this recipe:
- The recipe calls for seasonal vegetables and affordable pantry ingredients, but tastes gourmet.
- This lentil soup has an amazing hearty texture that’s lightly creamy (yet there is no cream). The trick is to blend up a portion of the soup once the lentils are tender, and then pour it back into the pot. It’s like magic.
- This nutritious, well-balanced soup counts as a meal if you enjoy a generous portion. Lentils are rich in protein, fiber, iron and folate.
- Lentil soup packs well for lunch in a leak-proof container, and it tastes even better the next day.
- This soup freezes and defrosts well. Make soup now and enjoy it later!
Watch how to make lentil soup
Please let me know how this lentil soup turns out for you in the comments. I’m always so eager to hear from you.
If you love this soup, check out my hearty vegetarian chili, favorite black bean soup and pinto posole. You can check out all my soup and stew recipes here.
Don’t miss my lentil minestrone recipe in my cookbook—if you’re a fan of this soup, you’re going to love it.
Best Lentil Soup
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 45 mins
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 4 servings 1x
- Category: Soup
- Method: Stovetop
- Cuisine: Mediterranean
This simple vegan lentil soup recipe comes together quickly with mostly pantry ingredients. Be sure to have your ingredients prepped and ready before you start cooking! Recipe yields four large bowls of soup, or six more modest servings.
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium yellow or white onion, chopped
- 2 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, pressed or minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 large can (28 ounces) diced tomatoes, lightly drained
- 1 cup brown or green lentils, picked over and rinsed
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt, more to taste
- Pinch of red pepper flakes
- Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
- 1 cup chopped fresh collard greens or kale, tough ribs removed
- 1 to 2 tablespoons lemon juice (½ to 1 medium lemon), to taste
- Warm the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or pot over medium heat. One-fourth cup olive oil may seem like a lot, but it adds a lovely richness and heartiness to this nutritious soup.
- Once the oil is shimmering, add the chopped onion and carrot and cook, stirring often, until the onion has softened and is turning translucent, about 5 minutes.
- Add the garlic, cumin, curry powder and thyme. Cook until fragrant while stirring constantly, about 30 seconds. Pour in the drained diced tomatoes and cook for a few more minutes, stirring often, in order to enhance their flavor.
- Pour in the lentils, broth and the water. Add 1 teaspoon salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Season generously with freshly ground black pepper. Raise heat and bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender but still hold their shape.
- Transfer 2 cups of the soup to a blender. Securely fasten the lid, protect your hand from steam with a tea towel placed over the lid, and purée the soup until smooth. Pour the puréed soup back into the pot. (Or, use an immersion blender to blend a portion of the soup.)
- Add the chopped greens and cook for 5 more minutes, or until the greens have softened to your liking. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in 1 tablespoon of lemon juice. Taste and season with more salt, pepper and/or lemon juice until the flavors really sing. For spicier soup, add another pinch or two of red pepper flakes.
- Serve while hot. Leftovers will keep well for about 4 days in the refrigerator, or can be frozen for several months (just defrost before serving).
Soup recipe roughly based on America’s Test Kitchen’s lentil soup in The Complete Vegetarian Cookbook, with reference to The First Mess’ favourite lentil soup.
Recommended equipment: (affiliate links) I love my Vitamix blender and Le Creuset 5.5-quart Dutch oven. For more of my favorite cooking tools, shop my kitchen essentials.
I tried this soup twice now! Tonight, I forgot i needed (and was out of) tomatoes, so I substituted a Costco bought spaghetti sauce that I LOVE. I also added potatoes. I think the soup was even better this way, BUT, I think the sodium is likely too high for me, so I will go back to the other, I am in a course where we are studying “The Bean Protocol,” and someone shared your recipe in the group.
This will DEFINITELY be a soup I make again and again. Last week I even ate it for breakfast.
It is YUMMY!!!!
Great to hear, Kathy! I’m glad you loved it.
Truly is the “best” lentil soup ever!! Kept trying to eat lentil soup for health benefits but just didn’t like it UNTIL I found this recipe. I make it all the time now and LOVE it!
I’m glad you love it, Cindy! Thank you for your review.
I had my doubts about this recipe due to the tomatoes. We (family) are not fans of anything with tomatoes. I gave it a try anyway because I’ve never had a bad experience with any of the recipes from Cookie and Kate (although I cut recipe in half in case it was a flop – NO ONE was excited about lentils with tomatoes). With minor modifications (kept the tomato juice, used chicken stock, added more red pepper flakes), this ended up being a HUGE hit! And because I cut the recipe in half, I was asked to make more next time…as in tomorrow.
This is my go-to recipe for lentil soup- I’ve made it multiple times and made it in big batches and canned it in Mason jars. Ive shared the link with friends.
I think a lot of us tend to think of lentils in terms of HIPPIE GRUEL, but this is one of my all-time, favorite soups. So flavorful!
This soup is so hearty and delicious. I will definitely be making it again. I used baby spinach that I had on hand instead of suggested greens, added extra carrots and some ginger and turmeric and it turned out fantastic!!
I’ve been making this soup for two years as soon as the weather gets cooler. It is perfectly named and everyone I’ve shared it with says so as well. Has anyone substituted fresh baby spinach for the greens? I love greens but forgot to buy some but I do have fresh organic baby spinach which does well with lentils. Thanks again for teaching me how to cook again!
It should work ok! Let me know what you think, Anne.
I made this last night and it’s so delicious, and even better today for lunch! The only change I made was I doubled the collard greens. Thanks for the recipe!
Delish on day one, can’t wait to see how the flavors blend when reheated for a weekday lunch. Smells amazing; one of the kids came running down the stairs asking what I’m making because “it smells sooo good!” He’s right! Nice little kick to this and I used kale for the greens. I love a hearty, healthy soup for my family & this fits the bill!
That’s great to hear, Diane!
Loved this recipe! I used my immersion blender in the pan and just did a couple swipes and it came out perfect. We LOVE garlic, so I actually added 7 cloves total, lol. Also, all I had was crushed tomatoes for some weird reason in my pantry. Used that and did not drain, just threw the whole thing in and it was amazing. The spicing is warm and the flavor is just fantastic.
I have never made lentil soup before ND thought I would give this recipe a try. It was amazing! Delicious! A keeper for sure! Thank you so much!
You’re welcome, Santrina!
The kale absolutely ruined the soup. I tasted the soup before I put the kale in, and it was a good lentil soup, but the kale did not improve it in any way. I was truly disappointed because I love lentil soup.
I’m sorry you didn’t love this, Elizabeth.
Ummm…Delicious??? I think there should be an even better word to describe this glorious soup. Super easy and well worth the time. For blending two of the cups of soup per recipe, I used a personal blender (like for smoothies) and ended up with a perfect consistency to add back into the rest of the soup. Thanks so much for a great, healthy, and yummy soup!!
I’m glad you love it, Kathy! Thank you for your review.
My go-to soup. Delicious. I used red lentils.
Can I use lemon juice concentrate? Rather than the juice from a lemon?
If it’s just lemon juice, it should be ok.
Loveeee this recipe! I make it all the time with whatever veggies I have left in the fridge – it all works well. The addition of the lemon juice (I add lemon rind as well) adds a lovely hint of freshness. Super cheap, nutritious and pantry friendly. Not to mention delish and SO quick and easy.
Great to hear, Ash!
I’ve been making this soup regularly for years, and thought it was time to leave a comment! This soup is everything—hearty, comforting, nutritious, and most of all, delicious! It truly is the BEST lentil soup.
Thanks so much, Kate! ❤️
Absolutely delicious!! It was very simple to make and I had most of the ingredients in my pantry (which is my fav!) it is now going to be a staple in our kitchen.
I love this delicious lentil soup recipe. Today I experimented – I used za’atar instead of thyme and coconut milk in place of the 2 cups of water. It tastes great.
This didn’t disappoint! I made it with puy lentils and substituted a carrot with some butternut squash as I only had to be carrot but lots of squash. It was full of flavour, but liking even more flavour, I made a herby chilli yoghurt dressing and swirled that in at the end. Omg, really delish, even to a hardened meat eater like my partner.
Would it be okay to use a red onion in this recipe?
Sure, if that’s what you have on hand.
Made this just now, it really is delicious. Was great because I used everything from my pantry so I did’t have to go to the store in this snowstorm. Adding the lemon juice made it perfect. I followed the recipe pretty close, but used crushed tomatoes, so I didn’t add the water, and used chicken broth. Added spinach and arugula because that’s all I had. Definitely will make it again.
That’s great to hear, Gryw!
Honestly first time making lentil soup but this recipe turned out delish! Definitely going into soup rotation! Love love love it!
Made it tonight and loved it!! This recipe is a keeper.
Thank you for sharing, Sherry!
My favorite lentil soup! This has been on my list of favorite cold-weather recipes for awhile. Comes together quickly, makes a big batch with yummy leftovers, and freezes well.
I was disappointed to learn that after 30 minutes my lentils weren’t cooked and I couldn’t feed my family yet. I needed to cook my soup for an hour and a quarter before I could say the brown lentils were ready. I followed the recipe for x3.
The flavour was delicious though and I may try this recipe again but next time only add the tomatoes/their juices once the lentils are ready. Tomato has a way of preventing legumes from softening. Maybe this was the problem.
I’m sorry to hear it took so long! I appreciate you sharing your experience.
I made this soup last night with red lentils and baby kale. The kale added just the right amount of body. I didn’t think I liked kale but it’s not bad! Be careful with the red pepper flakes. I had not used them before and I added two “pinches” and it’s just right! I will make it again! Thanks for the recipe!
Made this today for my family for dinner…. I have not been a fan of was curry or lentils. However, this was very flavorful and robust it all came together nicely. Even my picky teenager went back for seconds. This one was a hit!!! Thank you
Hello Kate. Just wanted to join in in sharing my appreciation for this recipe. I am living on my own at the moment, and wanted a hearty, protein rich, soup that I could make in a big batch and keep going back to. I’ve made this a few times now, for my family in the past and for myself and I’ve never been disappointed by following your recipe. I also didn’t spend too much money which is nice. A nice bowl of soup warms the soul when you are alone. Cheers to ya.
Thank you for sharing, Rick! I’m glad you have been enjoying this soup.
The name couldn’t be more accurate! I found this recipe last year and I’ve been making this soup regularly for my family. It makes the entire house smell almost as delicious as it tastes! It is super simple. It’s truly the easiest soup I’ve ever made with the biggest taste! I love love, love this soup!