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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

  • BEST Lentil soup EVER!!!!!! Ally in NJ

  • Regarding the bacon:
    – Cook the bacon first in another pan until crisp. Use a tablespoon of that fat with the olive oil.
    – Add the cooked bacon at the simmer stage. The bacon will keep its flavor and body.

    Regarding weights:
    – I checked out a one cup measure of lentils and I weighed one cup of lentils via grams. There was quite a difference in amounts of lentils. Best to use the volume versus weighed amount.

    • — Cynthia Huisman
    • Reply
    • Great tip on the bacon. I do think it loses some flavor if cooked too long.

      • — Jeanne Paschal on January 28, 2023
      • Reply
  • WOW! This is the BEST lentil soup recipe I’ve ever made and will always be in rotation in our home. Perfect for the changing of the seasons. So easy to make and extremely satisfying. I also made some brown rice to add separately to counter the side effects that lentils may have on some folks. Thank you Jen for another amazing recipe!

    • Made this soup last night and it was delicious will certainly be making this soup again and again

      • — Valetta on May 31, 2022
      • Reply
  • I am on a journey of trying your recipes and I have not been disappointed at all thus far. The instructions are always clear enough and the pictures you take your time to snap during the process are such a great help! It allows me to see and replicate. This may be one of the aspects that I appreciate most(I am a baby cook). Thank you! 🙂
    Not going to go into details about the lentil soup attempt. The rating already reflects this. A glorious, delicious success!

  • I’ve always loved lentil soup and this one doesn’t disappoint! I add a chopped up sweet potato…. adds a little richness. Thanks for a great recipe 🙂

  • I stumbled upon this recipe and site when looking for a lentil soup recipe. Wow! Not only is the soup fantastic, but now I have a whole site worth of recipes I can’t wait to try. The soup is going into regular rotation. It’s amazing.

  • Wow is this soup delicious!! Really! The depth of flavor it has is incredible. I used turkey bacon because that’s what we eat and it was yummy. It was a huge hit with the family including the 13 year old boy so that means it’s really special! This will be my go to lentil soup recipe from now on!

  • Again, absolute perfection. I’ve made many versions of so many of your recipes and you’ve always take it up a notch (or two+). Thank you!

    • — Lorraine Rossi Marier
    • Reply
  • Wow! You’ve taken the humble lentil soup to a whole new level for me! Thank you so much – the bacon is how my husband will eat it and he loves it to! Making it again tonight for the 4th time in the past couple months.

  • loved it..first time i’ve used french lentils and think they are terrific…body and flavor…
    definitely be making it again…didn’t have any parsley on hand but i did have some gremolata that i made previously , hence the the reason i had no parsley and used that for a garnish and it worked really well……. your recipe calls for 3 slices of bacon and that to me was a lttle obscure as bacon slices vary in length from region to region..could you please give us an approximate weight for that ingredient…sorry to be so pedantic but would appreciate it
    thanks so much

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I would guesstimate the bacon would be the equivalent of about 3 ounces.

  • Loved this soup. I blended it a little extra so it was all blended but still a little chunky. Lived in France as a kid and thought I was back there enjoying a great potage. The smokey bacon flavor made it that much better. Thanks for a wonderful recipe.

  • I was looking up French Lentil Soup and saw you had one, so I had to use yours as most all your recipes are a 5 star. I double it and the only thing different is I add finely chopped kale and 2 teaspoons of smoked paprika and a 1/4 t of hot chile flakes. Now, remember I double this. Yes, this is a 10 star. I am making it for a friend who just came out of the hospital and made extra for my family and so glad I did.

  • Have made this so many times and now a family favourite. I leave out the bacon for a vegetarian version and it’s hearty and delicious, and a meal in itself with crusty bread. Thank you for the recipe!

  • Delicious! I have plenty of du puy lentils and have been wanting to put them to use. This soup was super easy to make and even though I couldn’t get my hands on celery or the bay leaves, it still turned out wonderfully.

  • 5 Star Wonderful!

  • Can this recipe be made in the crockpot? How long would it take if using common lentils?

    • Hi Janet, I’m honestly not sure. I don’t have a lot of wisdom to share because I don’t have experience with a slow cooker, but these tips may help you convert the recipe. Hope you find them useful!

      • Thank you for the link—very helpful. We have made this recipe 2 or 3 times on the stove and once in the instant pot (not quite as good). This is a wonderful tasting recipe, simple, but it seems very gourmet. Whole family loves it. I want to see if I can make a crockpot version using the tips on the link you provided. Thanks again!

      • Could we use pork belly in place of bacon??

        • — Whitney on October 16, 2022
        • Reply
        • Hi Whitney, I wouldn’t recommend it — sorry!

          • — Jenn on October 18, 2022
          • Reply
  • I used about 200 g of Speck bacon
    Added pasata instead of chopped tomato
    Minus 1 cup broth
    Added 1/4 tsp celery seed
    Everything else as per recipe/method
    But my twist was add 1 cup medium grain rice with 10 mins cooking time left.
    The dish was transported to the inlaws for easter lunch and let me tell you it stole the show
    Called it a french speck lentil risotto lol
    The kids ate every last bit on their plates.
    Great recipe that is very versatile .
    Thank you
    You literally saved my bacon on easter day !

  • Really easy and so good!!

  • Yumtastic. I had to make do with brown lentils but it was still a hit. (Already ordered les lentilles vertes du puy on Amazon for next time because yes, there will definitely be a next time.) The bacon fat and bay leaves knocked this one out of the park for us. Oven baked the bacon as I find it splatters a lot less and cooks more evenly. (Plus, the oven method doesn’t “baconize” our tiny one bedroom apartment lol.) Used slightly more lentils and slightly less broth as we like a high ratio of vegetables to broth in our soups. For anyone who has to go the common route, I found that 20 minutes of simmer time was ample. Skipped the immersion as we prefer brothy soups. Had a strong feeling we were really going to like this so made a double batch. So glad I did because now some can go into the freezer. Jenn, you’ve become my go-to source when I think “Hmm, I need a recipe for _______.”) I really appreciate your clear instructions and helpful photos. And your responsiveness to those who have questions is impressive. Thank you!

    • So glad this was a hit and always happy to help! 💗

  • This soup is ridiculously good! I used ordinary lentils and simmered it for about 25 minutes and I can’t stop eating it. Another great recipe from you. Thank you and keep them coming!

  • Holy bacon! That was definitely the stand out flavour in this dish. I love bacon so I was a big fan. It gave it a nice richness. The pairing of the vegetables, protein and fat made it a well balanced dish in both flavour and substance. I did substitute the chicken stock with veggie and used green lentils (I cooked it for 35 mins since I forgot to check on the lentils). The lentils were still intact but it could have used less cooking time, perhaps 25 minutes. If you live in a wintery climate like me it’s a great soup to make in the colder months. I like using what’s in season, which is sparse in February, so I like using pantry items and this puts them to good use.

  • I have tried to get my husband to try lentil soup before to no avail. This time he came into the kitchen while I was cooking the bacon to ask what I was making. He said he would try it since there was bacon in it. Good thing I doubled the recipe because he had 2 bowls. Perfect for cold snowy weather. The only thing I didn’t double was the salt. Also, pay attention to the blending part, it really does thicken up. Delish. Thanks Jenn.

  • Hi. I made this soup tonight. Although our nights in LA aren’t exactly chilly, they are cool and occasionally gloomy. I loved this recipe because it was easy and nutritious and very delicious. I have never used bacon as a base flavor but it gave a lovely deep smoky flavor to the soup. Served with warm crusty rolls, this soup dinner became a a family hit!

  • The bacon really adds depth to this recipe. It is SO tasty! I have also made it without the bacon for a meatless meal, and we added a bit more salt and liked it just as well.

  • This soup is AMAZING. The bacon adds the right Smokey flavor. French lentils make all the difference – don’t substitute. It freezes well and is a delish soup to add to your winter rotation. Love it.

    • — Siobhan Kearney OBara
    • Reply
  • This lentil soup is excellent! Actually even better the next day.

    Do yourself a favor and use the green French lentils. They hold up well in the soup, and have a depth to their favor.

  • We loved all of the vegetables in this soup. They kept their fresh taste even after becoming leftovers. I substituted a package of Kielbasa sausage for the bacon just because we like that in lentil soup. This is my new lentil soup recipe.

  • A winter favourite in my household! Quick and easy (and healthy and inexpensive!)

  • I have made lentils soup a hundred times, but hands down this was the best recipe… my kids devoured it. Next time I doubling the recipe.

  • I followed the recipe as written and it was delicious! My husband, son, and I loved it… the only thing I would do differently next time is double the recipe! I wanted leftovers for lunch tomorrow, but we all went back for seconds (and thirds) so all that was left over was an empty pot! Thanks Jen!

  • This soup is perfect! My kids normally won’t eat lentils, but they gobble this stuff up. I love it with bacon, but I made it once with pancetta, and that worked great as well.

    • I made this with normal lentils and it was still very delicious!

  • In the Italian tradition lentils represent luck, wealth and prosperity and are often served on New Year’s Day. This lentil soup seemed like the perfect dish to make for my family. I followed the instructions exactly and even used French lentils. It was delicious and the bacon added just the right amount of smokiness. Perfection!!

  • Simple and healthy !

    Delicious lentil soup!

    Even my hubby loves it ❤️🥰

  • this is a great soup. I love to make ahead and have it a few days later to warm up. I have frozen it in small containers and taken to work for lunch to be heated up.

  • This lentil soup is very flavorful and quite easy to make. My family and I love lentil soup and this one is a winner. I went to a couple of supermarkets and they did not have the French lentils but I found them at Target, of all places. This is now one of my regular meals. Great recipe!

  • I loved your French lentil soup but I had to rename it common brown lentil soup as that was what I had in my pantry. I will buy some French green lentils for the next time. My husband was especially glad it called for bacon.

  • I have been a follower of Jenn’s for many years now and this recipe is one of my family’s favorites. It is the best lentil soup I have ever had – follow the directions exactly as they are, since much like all of Jenn’s recipes, this one has been refined and perfected!

  • Dear Jennifer! Thank you for your yummy recipes! I made this soup last Saturday as I was out of ideas for some comfort food and your website came up in my mind. I found the ingredients in my pantry and it came out perfect in my dutch casserole. My whole family loved it although kids are not big fans or any kinds of beans :-). Bacon added a great touch to the soup and I will definitely will add this recipe to the list my favorites. Thank you!

  • I’ve been looking for more plant-based options for lunch, and this soup is perfect. It’s got great texture and flavor, and is very filling. I’ve made it with and without the bacon and it’s good both ways. I divide it into lunch-sized containers and freeze it, so I always have a healthy lunch ready to go.

    • — Carolyn Schult
    • Reply
  • This is one of my family’s favorites. It’s easy to put together and hearty enough for fall and winter.

  • This recipe has become part of our weekly or at least biweekly rotation. I make a big pot on Sunday and eat it with warm, crusty bread and then we eat it for lunch during the week. It’s soooo good and I feel like I did something good for my family. Often I skip the bacon and add in other vegetables such as zucchini. I also add in small (cubed) red potatoes as my kids love potatoes.

  • This soup is one of the best I’ve ever made. My husband had seconds and it’s the one soup we ate every spoonfull until it was gone. Earthy, yet delicate, a very tasty meal. I’d always shied away from lentils, but no more. I did use French lentils, absolutely delicious!

  • To make this vegetarian, I made this without bacon and with vegetable broth instead of chicken broth, and it turned out very watery and lacked flavor.

    • Why would you rate a recipe based on your changes? So basically you gave your own creation 2 stars.

  • Delicious winter soup (or more like a stew really), great with crusty bread. Freezes well for a lunch during the week too. I sometimes add a couple of handfuls of greens (kale leaves for example) for an extra veggie boost.

  • This is the best Lentil Soup recipe ever!!! I serve this soup all the time for “homey” dinner parties and receive compliments and requests for the recipe every time. I make the recipe exactly as Jen wrote it. It is full of flavor and extremely easy to make. Love to keep some in the freezer and heat up for last minute lunches or dinners. A friend who asked for the recipe made it but then called me in a panic because she didn’t have a blender. I told her not to worry, it will taste the same but the consistency will be slightly different. She called later that night and said it came out fine, her kids loved it and never knew the difference.

    • — Lori Armstrong
    • Reply
  • This lentil soup was delicious. The bacon added wonderful flavor. It was perfect on a cold winter’s day

    • — Nicole Reynolds
    • Reply
  • We make this soup a couple of times a month lately. It is delicious. Even the 4yr old in the house requests it too. Filling enough on its own to be a main meal.

  • Made this for dinner tonight and it was delicious. Did not do the puree step at the end as it seemed thick enough for my taste. Paired it with homemade crusty bread for a great dinner. Will definitely be making this again.

  • I was looking for a soup recipe from a recipe book that I misplaced. It was a little museum cafe in Great Falls MT. As far as I can see, this is very similar to what I used to make! This time, instead of bacon, which I used to use, I had a ham hock from Christmas that I needed to use, so I threw that in the pot for flavor. I will keep this recipe now on my Pinterest board! Thanks!

  • Absolutely amazing! I made this recipe “as is” and included the optional parsley at the end. The soup came together easily and was healthy and delicious. It will definitely become part of our meal plans in the future. The arugula salad (your recipe) that I paired it with was scrumptious. I felt like I was eating at a fine restaurant!

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