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Lentil Soup

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Brimming with a wholesome mix of veggies, lentils, and just the right amount of bacon, this hearty lentil soup is the perfect antidote to a chilly day.

bowl of lentil soup.

Whether you’re looking to eat healthier or beat the cold weather doldrums, this smoky lentil soup teeming with vegetables is just the ticket. It’s a bit more sophisticated than your standard lentil soup, thanks to the addition of bacon and the use of French green lentils, or lentilles du Puy. While common brown or green lentils will work, French lentils are loved by chefs for their earthy, peppery flavor and sturdy texture. They hold their shape when cooked, thickening the soup without turning it to sludge. If you’ve ever had lentil soup so thick you could stand a spoon in it, you will appreciate the difference! (They are also wonderful when used in lentil salad.)

A bit of bacon infuses the soup with smoky depth, but if you don’t eat pork or would like to make the soup vegetarian, it’s easy to omit. Just add a pinch of smoked paprika at the end for hint of smoky flavor. Either way, you’re in for a bowl of pure comfort.

“This is a go-to winter recipe. Hearty, but elegant. Add crusty bread and it’s amazing–even better the next day.”

Kelly McBride

What You’ll Need To Make Lentil Soup

lentil soup ingredients.
  • Bacon: Adds a smoky depth to the soup’s flavor. To make the bacon easy to chop, wrap the slices 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.
  • Onion, celery, carrots, garlic: The classic vegetable base provides sweetness, depth, and aromatics to the soup.
  • Canned diced tomatoes: Introduce a slight acidity and richness, balancing the overall flavor of the soup.
  • Chicken broth: Serves as the liquid foundation of the soup, offering a rich, savory background. For a vegetarian option, vegetable broth can be used instead.
  • Lentils: The star of the soup, lentils are nutritious and hearty, thickening the soup while adding texture and protein. While common brown or green lentils will work, French lentils are preferred for their peppery flavor and firm texture that holds up well during cooking. Unlike dried beans, lentils don’t require pre-soaking prior to being cooked; simply pick over the little legumes, remove any that look broken or damaged, and cook.
  • Thyme and bay leaves: These herbs infuse the soup with aromatic, earthy flavors.
  • Jump to the printable recipe for precise measurements

Step-by-Step Instructions

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.

bacon sizzling in pot.

Add the olive oil, onions, celery, carrots and garlic, and cook until the onions are soft and translucent, about 5 minutes.

vegetables and bacon cooking in pot.

Add the tomatoes, chicken broth, lentils, thyme, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil.

simmering broth with vegetables, tomatoes, and bacon in pot.

Reduce the heat and simmer, partially covered, until the lentils are tender but not mushy, 45 to 50 minutes (less for common lentils).

lentil soup in pot before blending.

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, transfer a few cups of the soup to a standard blender and purée, then return the blended soup to the pot.

blending lentil soup with immersion blender.

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).

thickened lentil soup in pot.

Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish with fresh parsley.

bowl of lentil soup.

Frequently Asked Questions

What type of lentils are best for lentil soup?

While you can use any type of lentils to make lentil soup, I prefer 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. You can find them in many supermarkets—I usually get them at Whole Foods or Wegman’s—or order them online. They work beautifully in soups as well as lentil salad. If you’d prefer to use common green or brown lentils, that’s fine. Just watch the cooking time carefully as they can get mushy if overcooked.

french green lentils in bowl

Can I make this lentil soup vegetarian?

Yes, this soup can easily be made vegetarian without sacrificing flavor. Simply increase the olive oil slightly to compensate for the absence of rendered bacon fat. Use vegetable broth instead of chicken broth to keep the soup base vegetarian-friendly. To mimic the smoky depth that bacon adds, add a pinch of smoked paprika or a dash of liquid smoke.

Can lentil soup be made ahead of time?

Absolutely! The soup can be prepared up to 3 days in advance. Keep it stored in the refrigerator and when you’re ready to enjoy it, reheat on the stovetop over medium heat. If the soup has thickened in the fridge, add a little water to adjust the consistency to your liking.

Can lentil soup be frozen?

Yes, lentil soup freezes well and can be stored in the freezer for up to 3 months. To thaw, place the soup in the refrigerator overnight. Then, reheat it on the stovetop over medium heat until warmed through. If necessary, add a bit of water to thin it out if it has become too thick during freezing.

Lentil Soup Video Tutorial

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Lentil Soup

Brimming with a wholesome mix of veggies, lentils, and just the right amount of bacon, this hearty lentil soup is the perfect antidote to a chilly day.

Servings: 6
Prep Time: 25 Minutes
Cook Time: 45 Minutes
Total Time: 1 Hour 10 Minutes

Ingredients

  • 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)

Instructions

  1. 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 (see note on cooking time if using common brown or green lentils). Fish out the bay leaves and discard.
  2. 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.)
  3. Note: If using common brown or green lentils instead of French lentils, start checking for doneness around 30 minutes.
  4. Make-Ahead/Freezing Instructions: You can prepare this soup up to 3 days in advance, or freeze it for up to 3 months for longer storage. To defrost, let the soup thaw in the refrigerator overnight. When ready to serve, reheat the soup on the stovetop over medium heat until it's thoroughly hot. If you find the soup has thickened more than you'd like during its time in the fridge or freezer, simply stir in a little water or broth to reach your desired consistency.

Pair with

Nutrition Information

Powered by Edamam

  • 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.

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Comments

  • Love this soup. We are vegetarian so I omit the bacon. Tons of fiber and so yummy.Lola

    • — Lola on April 11, 2024
    • Reply
  • How do you tell when lentils are done? Its cooking now so I don’t feel comfortable rating it.

    • — laurie on March 28, 2024
    • Reply
    • Hi Laurie, I’m obviously weighing in too late to help, but you’ll know the lentils are done when they’re tender (but not mushy). Hope the soup came out nicely!

      • — Jenn on March 29, 2024
      • Reply
  • Easy recipe. I used fire roasted tomatoes and du Puy lentils. Delicious

    • — Sharon Martin on March 21, 2024
    • Reply
  • This was delicious, made it with ham instead of bacon. Thank You!

    • — Pamela Archambault on February 29, 2024
    • Reply
  • This soup is SO delicious, and so easy to make. Healthy, too. And the house smelled so good while it was cooking. Anything with a little bacon… This recipe is a keeper!

    • — Bakerdogs on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • Love it! Couldn’t find French green lentils in store so I ordered them on line. Wonderful flavor. Mine was a bit soupier than the photo (I did purée some). Ok tho, since my husband prefers more liquid in his soup.

    • — Linda on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • I added three links of Trader Joe’s Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage, chopped 1/4”, during the last 15 minutes. It was yummy.

    • — Carol on February 25, 2024
    • Reply
  • Delicious! Made this today and wish I made a double batch! Had a 398 ml (13.5 oz) can of tomatoes, so added a bit of tomato paste to the diced veggies and cooked it out for a minute before adding the canned tomatoes. Used du Puy lentils as recommended and some fresh thyme. The consistency was great after the 45 minute simmering time so I decided not to purée the soup. This recipe’s a keeper!

    • — Sandra H. on February 24, 2024
    • Reply
  • I have made this twice now and love it. First time, I didn’t have any bacon so used olive oil instead. Bacon or not, it turned out great. It’s easy to make too. I am making this a necessity in my weekly routine.

    • — MaryM on February 23, 2024
    • Reply
  • Made with fire roasted tomatoes. Delicious.

    • — Tara on February 23, 2024
    • Reply
  • My family loved it! Thank you so much Jen!

    • — Maria on February 22, 2024
    • Reply
  • I think this is a really good soup recipe and everyone I made it Four enjoyed it. However, I felt it needed a bit more flavor from either tomato paste or I added some ketchup and a drop of sugar and a little balsamic. I will definitely make it again.

    • — Newman Ruth on February 20, 2024
    • Reply
  • We loved it, including our 17 year old son! It’s going into our soup rotation. Made it with homemade chicken broth and Rancho Gordo French lentils. My tip is to cook the bacon slices whole then chop then when they are cooked, much easier to turn them and cook evenly. Thanks so much for the excellent recipe.

    • — Jade on February 19, 2024
    • Reply
  • Loved this recipe. Doubled up for the freezer and my single friends. Xx

    • — Val on February 18, 2024
    • Reply

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