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This hearty lentil soup will chase away the chill.
Whether you’re looking to eat better or chase away the cold weather doldrums, this smoky lentil soup with vegetables is just the ticket. It is best made with French green lentils, or lentilles du Puy. Prized by chefs for their earthy, peppery flavor and sturdy texture, these small lentils hold their shape when cooked, thickening the soup without turning it to mush (if you’ve ever had lentil soup so thick you could stand a spoon in it, you know what I mean). You can find French green lentils in many supermarkets—I usually get them at Whole Foods or Wegman’s—or order them online. They are worth going out of your way to find, as they work beautifully in soups and salads. If you can’t get them, it’s fine to use common green or brown lentils; just watch the cooking time as they can get mushy.
Unlike dried beans, lentils don’t require pre-soaking prior to being cooked. You simply pick over the little legumes, remove any that look broken or damaged, and cook.
What you’ll need to make Lentil soup
While I love the smoky flavor that bacon lends to this soup, if you don’t eat pork or are a vegetarian, you can omit the bacon. The soup will still be delicious but you might add a pinch of smoked paprika to mimic the flavor of the bacon.
Begin with the prep. To make the bacon easy to chop, wrap the slices you need in plastic wrap and put them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. They will be a bit stiffer when you remove them and much easier easier to cut.
Chop the bacon, onions, and celery very fine, so they aren’t too discernible in the finished soup, but keep the carrots a bit larger so they don’t disappear.
Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes.
Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic.
Cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.
Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper.
Bring to a boil.
Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils).
Using an immersion blender, purée the soup a little bit at a time until the broth is slightly thickened. Go easy—if you purée the soup too much, it will get too thick and you’ll lose the integrity of the lentils. If you don’t have an immersion blender, simply transfer a few cups of the soup to a standard blender and purée, then return the blended soup to the pot.
Season to taste and adjust the consistency if necessary (the soup tends to thicken as it sits, so you may need to add some water).
Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.
You may also like
- Smoky Chickpea, Red Lentil & Vegetable Soup
- Indian Spiced Red Lentil and Chicken Soup
- Split Pea Soup with Ham
- Pasta e Fagioli
This hearty lentil soup will chase away the chill.
- 3 slices bacon, finely chopped
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
- 2 medium carrots, diced
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 14.5-oz can diced tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken broth, best quality such as Swanson
- 1 cup French lentils (lentilles du Puy) or common brown or green lentils
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- A few tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, for garnish (optional)
- Fry the bacon in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the fat is rendered and the bacon is crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Do not brown; reduce heat if necessary. Add the tomatoes (with their juices), broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper and bring to a boil. Cover partially, reduce the heat to low, and simmer until the lentils are tender, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils). Fish out the bay leaves and discard.
- Use an immersion blender to purée the soup until the broth is slightly thickened, or to desired consistency. (Be careful not to purée too much or the soup will get too thick, and you'll lose the integrity of the lentils.) If you don't have an immersion blender, transfer about 2 cups of the soup to a blender and purée until smooth, then return the blended soup to the pot. Garnish with fresh chopped parsley if desired and serve. (Note: The soup may thicken as it sits; thin with a bit of water if necessary.)
- Freezer-Friendly Instructions: The soup can be frozen for up to 3 months. Defrost the soup in the refrigerator for 12 hours and then reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until hot.
- Per serving (6 servings)
- Serving size: about 1 3/4 cups each
- Calories: 318
- Fat: 12g
- Saturated fat: 3g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Sugar: 8g
- Fiber: 12g
- Protein: 17g
- Sodium: 878mg
- Cholesterol: 17mg
This website is written and produced for informational purposes only. I am not a certified nutritionist and the nutritional data on this site has not been evaluated or approved by a nutritionist or the Food and Drug Administration. Nutritional information is offered as a courtesy and should not be construed as a guarantee. The data is calculated through an online nutritional calculator, Edamam.com. Although I do my best to provide accurate nutritional information, these figures should be considered estimates only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased, natural fluctuations in fresh produce, and the way ingredients are processed change the effective nutritional information in any given recipe. Furthermore, different online calculators provide different results depending on their own nutrition fact sources and algorithms. To obtain the most accurate nutritional information in a given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients used in your recipe, using your preferred nutrition calculator.
Made this soup for tonight’s dinner. It was AMAZING! We added a side dish of whole wheat homemade bread and balsamic & Olive oil dip – the combination was great!
Thanks so much for the recipe 🙂
I keep coming back to this lovely heartwarming stew/soup year after year. I like to add a Thai chilli for a bit extra warmth.
This is a go-to winter recipe. Hearty, but elegant. Add crusty bread and it’s amazing–even better the next day.
I’ve made this soup 3x in the past month, following the recipe exactly. It reminds me of the soups my mom makes, and it tastes like home. Thank you for the amazing recipe!
I followed recipe exactly. I love this soup it is delicious. Thank you for sharing. FYI I have made many of your recipes and you knock it out of the park. I adore your Asparagus soup with lemon and Parmesan, your homemade Caesar salad dressing and hopefully will next make your southwestern corn chowder. God bless
I made this last night…and because it was the beginning of Lent, I made it vegetarian. I used vegetable broth and omitted the bacon. (I’m sure both would make this even better…and will try it next time!) But I have to say…it was excellent. Jenn warned against blending it too much with the immersion blender…but I don’t use my immersion blender very much and I got carried away and probably blended a little too much. Even so…it was very tasty. I would highly recommend trying it!
Have made it twice this week! Absolutely wonderful!
I changed mine up a little. Didn’t have diced tomatoes so I diced a fresh one and added some tomatoes paste. I added cubed potatoes. I added 2.5 cups lentils and didn’t use the emulsion blender. Mine turned out more like a delicious lentil stew. Thanks!
This recipe was so simple and the end results were fantastic! Super comforting with lots of flavor. Thank you so much for this recipe!
Outstanding! My go-to soup if I want to impress. I’ve made this soup for years now and it remains everyone’s favorite. I get requests to make it all the time. Thank you!!
Jenn does it again! I loved this lentil soup, and it was so easy to make. I didn’t have thyme, so I left it out, and the soup was still scrumptious.
I also liked how simple it was to halve the recipe. It’s just me, myself, and I, so a serving of 3 was perfect haha!
I have made this many times now, best lentil soup!!! Made it for a chef friend as he was laid up with a broken ankle, I was a bit nervous as he is one of the best chefs I know. He (not just being nice) said it was the best lentil soups he has had. The only thing I did difference is added a little smoked paprika and some kale. I would love if you added the ingredients also in oz’s or grams in some cases like herbs.
If I am looking for a recipe and your name is next I know it’s going to be a winner.
So glad it was a hit with your chef friend! And the great majority of my recipes (including this one) include conversions to metric/weight measurements. To view them, scroll down to the recipe, and immediately under the recipe title on the right side, you’ll see a little toggle. If you move it from “cup measures” to metric, you’ll see measurements that will work for you.
This recipe is such a winner, Jenn! I make it to rave reviews every time and I know that’ll be the case with the batch I just took off the stove! I think you’ve probably spoiled us because your recipes are always reliable with really thorough preparation instructions and useful tips. I agree with Barbara though on ingredients like large onion, medium carrots, stalks of celery, etc. Things like that, vegetables and fruits in particular, don’t seem to often be specified by volume or weight and in cases where I just have medium onions, and a stalk of celery can be big or small, and whether an apple is medium or large is in the eye of the beholder, volume or weight would be super helpful!
Hi Emilie, so glad you like the soup! And thanks for your input regarding providing the volume or weight for things like fruits and veggies that can vary in size. I will try to keep it in mind as I develop new recipes. 😊
Made it today for dinner. We had it with crumbled turkey bacon (the only kind I had). Delicious!
To cut back on prep time, I cut the bacon with kitchen shears and use a bag of baby spinach. I also separate the bacon into groups of three and freeze them for future use. I sub a can of fire roasted diced tomatoes to add a hint of smoke. Best lentil soup recipe, period!
I made this for the first time tonight, and it is delicious! I used plain dried lentils. The package said to cook for 15-20 minutes. I let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, and that seemed just right. Thank you for the note that plain lentils take less time to soften. I also added a little extra bacon (and no salt) to the recipe. Yummmm!
Perfect soup. Love lentils and this was delicious as is. One comment: I did not add any extra salt, since I use Better Than Bouillon Chicken stock and it’s very concentrated.
Super easy and was delish
So good! Followed recipe exactly except I didn’t puree the lentils because we like chunkier soups. This is a keeper and I will make it again and again.
This lentil soup recipe is amazing! It’s easy and packed with good things. I used Costco bacon bits in lieu of cooking bacon slices. Your website is amazing and your recipes are easy to follow. Thank you!! Sally