Hearty and healthy, this lentil soup recipe is loaded with flavorful veggies and pasta. Lentil soup is a satisfying, meatless entree you can serve in under an hour.

Overhead image of a bowl of lentil and pasta soup, garnished with greek yogurt and cilantro.

What do you know about lentils? Did you know that lentils are highly nutritious and rich in minerals, protein, and fiber? Lentils are a type of legume, or pulse, that have been feeding mankind for thousands of years. In the Bible, we’re told that Esau, hungry and tired, traded his birthright to Jacob for a bowl of lentil stew. Perhaps it was similar to this one pot green lentil stew with sweet potatoes and kale!

Economical, low in calories, and protein-rich, cooking with lentils is a good choice for today, too.

There are several varieties of lentils. The most common varieties available are:  brown lentils (which I use in this lentil soup recipe), yellow and red split lentils, puy (or French lentils), green lentils, and beluga (small black lentils that look like caviar, and are delicious in salads). Red lentil soup, my favorite Lebanese soup, spiced with warm cumin, is a popular recipe on Rachel Cooks. Another recipe I love uses French lentils, a lentil salad, with feta, lemon and parsley.

Image of two bowls of hearty lentil soup made with brown lentils, carrots, celery, tomatoes, and pasta.

Did you know?

The word “lens” comes from the Latin name of the lentil plant. The scientific name of the lentil we most commonly eat is Lens culinaris. Think of optic lens, or the lens in a camera or a microscope, all of which are shaped like what? A lentil. 

Seeing (pun intended) that lentils are so delicious and good for you, be sure to try this wholesome lentil soup recipe. I’m sure you’ll love it!

Overhead photo of two bowls of lentil soup, one only partially showing in image. Cilantro is also pictured as well as fresh bread that has been torn from the loaf.

About this lentil soup recipe:

This lentil soup will take about an hour to cook on the stovetop, and much of that time is hands off. You may have most, if not all, of the ingredients in your pantry, which is another good reason to add this lentil soup recipe to your rotation. 

Chop up some veggies: onions, carrots, celery, turnip, jalapeño pepper, and garlic. Sauté them briefly until tender. Add broth, water, a can of tomatoes, and rinsed brown lentils. Chili powder and oregano provides great seasoning to this soup. Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add 3/4 cup of a small pasta, like ditalini. You may use whatever small pasta you have on hand. Cook another ten minutes until pasta is tender. 

Serve the soup sprinkled with fresh chopped cilantro, and a dollop of plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, or shredded cheese, if desired. Cornbread muffins with herbs and cheddar would be delicious with this soup. 

Image of two white bowls with handles, full of hearty lentil soup. Each bowl is topped with a dollop of greek yogurt and fresh cilantro leaves.

How to make this lentil soup your own:

  • You can vary the kinds of vegetables or increase/decrease the amounts. Not a fan of turnips? Try diced sweet potatoes instead. Don’t care for jalapeño? Substitute bell pepper. Shredded cabbage or kale would be really good.
  • Add meat. While lentils provide lots of healthy protein in this vegetarian soup, making it with ham, bacon, or sausage would be delicious. 
  • Be creative with the herbs and seasoning. Use what you like best. Instead of jalapeño and chili powder, use red bell pepper, basil, and a bay leaf for a more Italian style soup. Smoked paprika would be really tasty, too. 
  • Want to use your slow cooker? Put all the ingredients (no sautéing necessary) in your crockpot and cook on the low setting for 8 hours or until lentils are tender.

Image of two bowls of lentil soup with ditalini pasta.

FAQS

Do you have to soak lentils before cooking them?

No soaking is required! That’s the beauty of cooking with lentils. They become tender after cooking for 20-30 minutes, depending on the variety. Split yellow and red lentils take even less time to cook.  

Please take time to rinse the lentils before using them, in case there’s any dirt or debris left on them. 

Is lentil soup healthy?

Yes! Lentils are protein rich, low in calories, and highly nutritious. This lentil soup contains lots of vegetables that are good for you, too. The only fat in this soup recipe comes from 2 teaspoons of good-for-you olive oil. 

What are the best lentils for soup?

Brown and green lentils hold their shape the best, making them a good choice for soup. If you’d like a smoother, creamy textured soup, use split red or yellow lentils. For salads, puy (French) or beluga lentils work best. They’re smaller and firmer, and don’t disintegrate easily.

Reheating and Storage Tips

Lucky you, you have leftovers! Lentil soup for lunch tomorrow! Cool the lentil soup, and store in the refrigerator in an airtight container for up to 3-5 days. Gently reheat in the microwave or in a pan on the stove when ready to serve.

Freeze lentil soup in containers for up to 3 months. For best results, thaw overnight in the refrigerator before heating and serving. Keep in mind that the pasta may lose a bit of its texture. 

Looking for hearty vegetarian soup recipes?

Here’s a few of my favorites:

 

Hearty and healthy, this lentil soup recipe is loaded with flavorful veggies and pasta. Lentil soup is a satisfying, meatless entree you can serve in under an hour.

Lentil Soup Recipe with Pasta

Yield: 10 cups
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 50 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour 5 minutes

Hearty and healthy, this lentil soup recipe is loaded with flavorful veggies and pasta. Lentil soup is a satisfying, meatless entree you can serve in under an hour.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion (about 2 medium onions)
  • 1 cup chopped carrot (about 3 medium carrots)
  • 1 cup chopped celery (about 3-4 stalks celery)
  • 1 cup peeled and chopped turnip (about 1/2 turnip)
  • 1 small jalapeño pepper, seeds and ribs removed, finely chopped
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 large clove garlic, minced
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.) no salt added diced tomatoes
  • 16 ounces dried brown lentils (about 2 cups), rinsed
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¾ cup uncooked ditalini pasta (or other small pasta of your choice)
  • ¼ cup minced fresh cilantro

Instructions

  1. Heat oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add onions, carrot, celery, turnip, jalapeño and salt. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender. Add garlic and sauté 1 minute or until fragrant.
  2. Add broth, water, tomatoes, lentils, chili powder and oregano. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  3. Add pasta, bring soup back to boil, and cook 10 minutes or until tender.
  4. Ladle soup into bowls; sprinkle with cilantro.

Notes

  • If desired, serve with a dollop of plain Greek yogurt, sour cream, or a sprinkling of cheese.
  • Want to use your slow cooker? Put all the ingredients (no sautéing necessary) in your crockpot, turn on low, and cook for 8 hours or until lentils are tender.

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Nutrition Information:
Yield: 8 Serving Size: 1 14/ cup
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 194Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 5mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 33gFiber: 8gSugar: 6gProtein: 10g

RachelCooks.com sometimes provides nutritional information, but these figures should be considered estimates, as they are not calculated by a registered dietitian. Please consult a medical professional for any specific nutrition, diet, or allergy advice.

Did you make this recipe?

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Verdict: I love this soup. It’s so hearty, filling, and flavorful. 
Husband’s take: Ben has no complaints about this! In general, he prefers meat, but he likes this. 
Changes I would make: None!
Difficulty: Easy!