For the last few days, we have had the nicest weather. The temperatures have gone up to 50 degrees, and for this time of the year in Vermont, that is considered as “nice and warm”. As far as I am concerned, it is not warm by any stretch of the imagination, but I am happy to see the sun shining outside. Sadly, the forecast shows snow tomorrow so I am making soup. This healthy and easy Lentil Soup, to be exact.
The first time I published this Green Lentil Soup recipe was back in February of 2014 and it has been a reader favorite so I decided to give it an update with a few new photos, some helpful information, and a quick how-to video.
Over the years, this has been one of my go-to weeknight recipes for cold winter evenings. My version here is vegan, but below I made sure to list a few ways to add in some animal protein to the soup.
I love this recipe as it is somewhere between a soup and stew making it a perfect main dish for a meatless Monday dinner. If you are like me, enjoy meal worthy soup recipes, I know you will enjoy this lentil soup recipe.
Intrigued? Let me break it down for you.
How to prepare lentils for lentil soup
As it is with beans, it is possible to have foreign objects like leaves, stones, or twigs in a bag of lentils. That is why before I start using them in my recipes, I always comb them thoroughly and give them a quick rinse.
To do so, place lentils in a shallow plate like a pie plate or a baking sheet. Pick out and discard any leaves or small stones.
Next, place lentils in a colander or strainer and rinse under cold running water.
Do I need to soak lentils for this lentil vegetable soup
You do not need to soak lentils before cooking. Compared to most legumes (i.e. chickpeas, beans, black-eyed peas, etc.), it takes a much shorter time for lentils to cook so there is no need to soak them beforehand.
Lentil soup ingredients
To make lentil soup you will need:
- Celery stalks
- Tomato Paste
- Canned Tomatoes
- Aromatics like: Bay Leaf, Thyme, and Fresh Parsley
- Green Lentils ( I used French Du Puy Lentils)
- Vegetable Stock or Water
- Balsamic Vinegar (or red wine vinegar would also work)
How to make healthy lentil soup from scratch
The process for making this easy vegan lentil soup has 2 parts.
First, sautee onions, carrots, celery with a little bit oil in a large heavy bottom pot (i.e. Dutch oven) until softened. Add in tomato paste, garlic, tomatoes, and bay leaf. Sautee for another minute.
Second, add in the lentils and vegetable stock (or water). Put the lid on and bring it to a boil. Once boiling, turn down the heat and let it simmer.
Right before serving, remove the bay leaf, stir in the balsamic vinegar and garnish with chopped parsley.
How long do lentil soup take to cook
Depending on the type of lentils you are using, lentils cooking time is about 25-30 minutes.
In this recipe, I used French lentils. It took me just under 45 minutes to cook the soup (including the vegetables) from start to finish.
If you use green lentils instead of Du Puy lentils it might take 5-10 minutes less to cook them.
How much water (or stock) to add to lentil soup:
When it comes to cooking lentils by themselves, my ratio for lentil to water (or vegetable stock) is one to three. In other words, I use 3 cups of liquid to cook 1 cup of lentils.
In this easy green lentil recipe, I used 1 1/2 cups of lentils and cooked it in 6- cups of liquid as I wanted to have extra liquid to cook all the other vegetables.
Want to know more about French lentils?
Here is a few FAQs answered about French du Puy lentils:
What are French du Puy Lentils and how are they different from regular green lentils?
Compared to green lentils, French du Puy lentils are smaller. I personally prefer them because they keep their shape after they are cooked whereas green lentils turn mushy after long cooking time.
In terms of taste, they are pretty similar so you would not compromise flavor if you use one or the other.
Where do I get du Puy lentils?
While they are becoming more and more popular, if you can’t find them in your local supermarket, you can certainly find them in health food stores. Or else, you can order French Lentils (affiliate links) online.
If I do not have French du Puy lentils, can I use regular green lentils for this recipe?
Yes, you can. You can use them interchangeably. Though be aware that the end product (mostly the texture) will look different. Perhaps, a little bit mushy as most of the green lentils will burst.
Can you freeze lentil soup?
Yes, you can. As a matter of fact, I usually make a big batch of this easy lentil soup recipe and freeze some of it for another day. Simply, let the soup come to room temperature, place in airtight containers, and freeze up to 3 months. A day before you are ready to serve, thaw in the fridge overnight.
How long will lentil soup keep fresh in the fridge?
As long as it is kept in an airtight container, this vegan lentil soup will be fresh for 3-4 days. If you are serving it the next day, I recommend reheating only the amount that you plan to serve instead of reheating the whole soup.
What to serve this Frenh lentil soup with?
I usually serve it with a few slices of my no knead bread and a big green salad.
Is lentil soup healthy?
Absolutely! Green lentils high in fiber and protein and low in fat, which makes them a great alternative to meat. They are also packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, and potassium.
A Few variations for this easy lentil soup recipe
Like I mentioned earlier, this lentil stew recipe is one of my go-to weeknight soups, especially during the cold winter evenings.
Throughout the years of making it, I tried a few different variations so I am sharing those with you to help you as you make your own. Please know that while the recipe below is a vegan recipe, some of the ideas below include meat.
- Add a cup of your favorite pasta (and even orzo) to the cooking liquid 10 minutes before everything is cooked: Adding a cup of pasta makes this a big one-pot meal that is perfect to feed a crowd.
- Add 2 cups of baby spinach leaves or chopped fresh kale: You can make this dish even more nutritious by adding some greens. I usually go for spinach of kale and put them in 7-8 minutes before the cooking process is over.
- Try adding different spices and fresh herbs: We love spicy hot food so sometimes I add in some crushed red peppers. In the past, I have also tried this recipe with paprika as well. You can use sweet or smoked paprika. Additionally, you can experiment with fresh herbs like sage, rosemary, and dill by adding them into the cooking liquid.
Non-Vegan (Animal Protein) Ideas
- Add a cup of leftover or rotisserie chicken (cut in small cubes): An easy way to add animal protein in this recipe is to add a cup (or more) of shredded or cubed chicken. I usually add it right at the same time I add the stock. Additionally, you can use chicken stock to make it even more flavorful. If you decide to do so, I recommend using 4 cups of chicken stock and 2 cups of water.
- Add ground beef: Another great way to add in some animal protein. If you decide to do so, I recommend adding 1/2 pound ground beef to the pot and cooking it for 5-6 minutes before you add in the onions. Be sure to use a wooden spoon and break the large pieces of beef as it cooks. After you cook it for a few minutes, you can follow the recipe as directed. Again, feel free to use chicken or even beef stock to make it even more flavorful.
Other lentil recipes you might like:
Other vegan soup recipes you might like:
- Vegan Chili Recipe
- Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup
- Sunchoke Soup Recipe
- Kabocha Squash Soup
- Vegan Chocolate Chili
- Sweet Potato Soup
- Cauliflower and Celeriac Soup
- Pumpkin Ginger Soup
- Vegan Butternut Squash Soup
French Lentil Soup Recipe
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 3 medium carrots peeled and chopped
- 3 celery stalks chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 1 can diced tomatoes (14 oz can)
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 teaspoon thyme leaves chopped
- 1 1/2 cups French lentils Lentils Du Puy, rinsed and picked over
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 6 cups vegetable broth/stock preferably homemade
- 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
- 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley chopped - plus more as garnish
- Heat olive oil in a large heavy bottom pot over medium heat. Add onions, carrots, and celery and cook until they are softened, 5-7 minutes.
- Stir in the tomato paste and cook for a minute.
- Add garlic and cook for 1 more minute.
- Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaf, and thyme. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Add French lentils, salt and pepper. Give it a big stir to make sure that everything is mixed evenly.
- Pour in the vegetable stock, turn the heat up to medium-high, put the lid on and bring it to a boil. Once boiled, turn down the heat to low and let it simmer for 30-35 minutes.
- Right before serving, take out the bay leaf and stir in the balsamic vinegar and chopped parsley.
- Pour the soup in individual bowls and garnish it with more parsley.
Slightly adapted from America’s Test Kitchen’s Hearty Lentil Soup recipe and my mother’s lentil soup recipe.
A QUICK TRIVIA:
IS LENTIL A BEAN?
If you are new to cooking with lentils, you might be wondering if lentils are a part of the beans family.
While they are grouped with peas and beans as a part of the legume family (as they grow in pods), they are not considered the same as beans.
This recipe was first published back in 2014 but recently updated with new photos, information, and a quick how-to video.
Absolutely love this recipe and have made it over and over with zero adaptations because its perfect as it is! So delicious and great for every season
This is music to my ears, Gemma. Thanks for coming by and taking the time to leave a review.
This looks great. Can’t wait to make today but don’t have any celery on hand. Can you recommend substitute? Should I just use more carrots?
I would just omit using it. More carrots might be a little bit too much.
I hope this helps.
I made a very similar soup before (and at the moment, too). Maybe it was partly based on this recipe, I can’t remember. A good addition to it at the end was a dollop of Greek-style yogurt (no stirring), though a dollop of sour cream probably would have been even better.
Can’t agree more. A dollop of yogurt truly makes this soup delicious. Thanks for your input.
Looks delicious, but insane sodium content!
I understand, but you can always use less salt.
I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by.
I am oozing forward to making this for lunch, but in the meantime wanted to say how I love the music accompanying the video.
‘looking’ not oozing. Lol
That is okay. 🙂
I knew what you meant.
YAY! It is one of my favorite songs to use for my recipe videos. I hope you like this soup as much as we do.
This looks wonderful. Chemistry question (not trying to be sassy): How to cook lentils to tender when simmering in an acid? My experience with this is that tomato, toughens the lentils. Have you soaked first? Tips greatly appreciated. (Just tossed a lentil/tom based soup…so sad 🙁
Also, do you know of a fool-proof test to determine if lentils are too old?
Thank you! 😀
You are right, acid toughens the lentils. That is exactly why I usually use French du Puy lentils. They tend to keep their shape better compared to regular green lentils.
I do not soak them because they cook pretty fast. However, you can certainly soak them for a few hours. Though the cooking time will be shorter with soaked lentils.
Hope this helps.
I was looking for a good French Lentil Soup recipe and this one did not disappoint! Really simple, but so good and versatile! Love the balsamic vinegar add at the end-really gave it a nice depth! Truly enjoying it!
This is music to my ears. So glad you found it.
I agree that it is an easy yet versatile recipe.
Thanks for coming back and leaving a rating and a comment. It is much appreciated.
Can this soup be frozen and for how long?
Yes, you can freeze it. As long as it is kept in an airtight container, it will be good for 2 months in the freezer.
I hope this helps. Thanks for stopping by.
Pretty much followed this to the letter but added a bit more garlic (I can’t help myself 🙂 ), and herbes de Provence instead of just thyme. Delicious!
Hello Stephen: So happy that it worked out for you. I love the idea of adding herbes de provence. 🙂
I’ll do the same next time I make it for ourselves.
Thank YOU so much for coming back and leaving a comment. I really appreciate it.
Healthy, satiating, and flavorful all at once. So good!
Thanks so much Joanne. So happy to hear that you liked it.
An absolute classic! Love the flavors.
Such a hearty veggie soup!
It sure is. Thanks for stopping by Jennifer.
I dearly love lentils and this recipe is outstanding!
Thanks so much Melissa. I do too 🙂
Lori @ RecipeGirl
Great soup for the cooler fall months. I love your video too!
Thanks so much Lori. It is a go-to recipe in our house. Thanks for stopping by!
Did the old recipe have wine?
Yes, it did. It was white wine. In this version, I used balsamic vinegar instead. However, if you want you can use white wine in place of balsamic vinegar.
Thank you. I love this soup!
Was it 1/4 cup? When do I add the wine?
You can add the wine at the same time you add the broth. I think it was 1/4 cup. However, if you decide to use wine I would recommend omitting the balsamic vinegar.
I recently made this French Lentil Soup recipe it was amazing and packed with flavor, I will definitely make it again. Thanks
So good to hear Linda. I just made a big batch as well. Thanks for letting me know.
I wish I hadn’t seen it at lunch time. Looks so tasty! This is something I can eat every single day. Plus, it looks very similar to my son’s favorite green lentil soup. Need to try your version asap! I’m sure he’ll LOVE it!
Thank you sugar. I wish that we can all have this soup together someday. Someday, very soon. ❤️
I know that recipe. Like you mentioned, I wanted to come up with a healthier version of it.
Thank you for compliments on my pictures.
Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons
This totally reminds me of an Ina recipe, actually 🙂 She has a great lentil soup recipe that I think has some sausage in it. Your version looks a bit healthier – perfect for lunches! As always, beautiful photos!
My non-vegetarian husband loved this. I loved the taste and ease of prep. Will definitely make this again!
I am thrilled to hear that you and your husband enjoyed this recipe. It is a favorite one in our house as well.
Thanks for coming by!