Best Damn Lentil Soup

What makes this the best lentil soup? Let’s just say that everyone we’ve served it to immediately asks for the recipe…and seconds.

Best Lentil Soup

Are you on the lentil train? Lentils are low in calories, high in nutrition, and budget friendly. And, they make 40 times less greenhouse gases than a burger. Impressive, right? So here’s our favorite new way to eat them: our Best Damn Lentil Soup. Yes, Alex and I are pulling out the expletives because this one is so delicious, you’ll feel like you’re wrapped in a cozy hug. Did we mention it’s a plant based dinner recipe, too? This vegan lentil soup is ready to amaze you.

Got an Instant Pot? Make this recipe using Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Why people love it

To make sure this really was the best lentil soup, we tested this recipe with a few of our readers. Luckily, this cozy soup went over better than expected with our real-life recipe testers! Here’s what they had to say:

  • “Made the soup last night. I loved the flavor. My husband said this could easily go into regular rotation at our house!” -Laura
  • “I made your Best Damn Lentil Soup and totally agree with the title of the recipe! Delicious!” -Sarah
Best damn lentil soup

What makes this the best lentil soup?

This vegan lentil soup is full of big flavor, despite being made only with plants. While some recipes rely on bacon or sausage to keep eaters coming back for more, this one does it without meat or dairy. Even our 2 year old was obsessed with this one! Here are the tricks to making a lentil soup that’s irresistible:

Trick 1: Sauteed fennel brings a nuance in flavor.

Using fresh fennel along with the standard onion brings a smoky, nuanced undertone to this soup. Find fresh fennel in mainstream groceries in the produce section: it looks like a big onion with a fuzzy top. If you’re not sure how to chop this vegetable once you get it home, here’s how to cut fennel.

Trick 2: Fire-roasted tomatoes give tomato-y sweetness.

Fire roasted tomatoes are sweeter out of the can than standard tomatoes, which can have a bitter aftertaste. The tomatoes run the show here! If you can’t find them, grab the best quality canned tomatoes that you can.

Trick 3: Adding garlic at the end amps the flavor.

Garlic is usually added at the beginning of making a soup, when you’re sauteing the vegetables. Here you’ll throw in minced garlic at the end when the soup is done simmering. It adds even more flavor this way! You’ll let the soup stand for 5 minutes to infuse the garlic aroma.

Lentils nutrition

Lentils nutrition

Lentils are not only tasty: they’re full of nutrition benefits and are inexpensive to buy! So this lentil soup is not only good for your pocketbook, it’s healthy too. Here are a few of the major nutritional benefits of lentils:

  • Protein & Fiber: Lentils have a large amount of plant-based protein. 1 cup of cooked lentils has about 18 grams of protein and 15 grams of fiber. (Source)
  • Low in Fat & Calories: Lentils have virtually no saturated fat and are low in calories.
  • Protect Against Heart Disease: Lentils are rich in polyphenols, micronutrients thought to help protect against cardiovascular disease. (Source)

They’re good for the planet, too!

And just what do lentils have to do with the planet? More than you may think. A recent New York Times article covered Food and Climate Change and indicated that the world’s food system is responsible for about 1/4 of the planet-warming greenhouse gases. The chart in the article shows the difference between beef and lentils (grouped under Beans). Beef accounts for 40 times more greenhouse gases than lentils.

If that’s not motivation to make our Best Lentil Soup once in a while…we’re not sure what is! If you need more ideas, some favorites are this Lentil Salad or Lentil Curry. Or, check out our Best Lentil Recipes or Top Vegan Recipes.

Lentil soup recipe
You can also make this one in a pressure cooker!

Lentil soup variations

Here are a few variations on lentil soup that you might enjoy:

Lentil soup recipe

What to serve with lentil soup

What to serve with this lentil soup? Just a soup does not a meal make! (Unless you eat a few servings, which we often do.) Here are a few things we’d serve with this soup:

This lentil soup recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based, and dairy-free.

Print
Lentil soup recipe

Best Damn Lentil Soup


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (59 votes, average: 4.25 out of 5)

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 35 minutes
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 6 1x

Description

What makes this the best lentil soup? Let’s just say that everyone we’ve served it to immediately asks for the recipe…and seconds.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 1 fennel bulb
  • 2 large carrots
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 1/2 cups brown or green lentils
  • 28-ounce can diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups baby spinach (or chopped standard spinach)

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion. Dice the fennel. Peel and dice the carrots. Grate the garlic and set aside to stir in once the soup is cooked. (Got an Instant Pot? Go to Instant Pot Lentil Soup and continue at Step 2!)
  2. In a large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel and saute for 6 to 7 minutes until translucent. Add the carrots, lentils, tomatoes, broth, water, salt, paprika, and oregano.
  3. Bring to a simmer. Simmer for 22 to 25 minutes until the lentils are tender.
  4. Stir in the spinach and grated garlic, and allow it to rest for 5 minutes before serving. Taste and season with additional salt and fresh ground pepper as necessary. Serve immediately. Stores refrigerated for up to 4 days and frozen for 3 to 4 months.

  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: American

Keywords: Lentil soup, Best lentil soup, Lentil soup recipe,, Lentil recipes

Last updated: January 2020

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About the Authors

Sonja Overhiser

Cookbook Author and writer

Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.

Alex Overhiser

Cookbook Author and photographer

Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.

10 Comments

  • Reply
    Deb
    September 22, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    I love the basic recipe but I made this with no salt chicken broth and ended up adding 3 tsp. of Himalayan pink sea salt too give it flavor. I still found that there was “something missing”. I added 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar and let the flavors meld for 24 hours. It took it right over the top. With these minor adjustments I agree, it is the best darn lentil soup ever!

  • Reply
    Gemma
    September 25, 2019 at 1:47 am

    Is it baby spinach leaves you stir through? Also – one clove of garlic doesn’t sound like much, do you think we could add extra or would it over power? Thanks!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      September 25, 2019 at 9:15 am

      Hi! Yes, baby spinach leaves are perfect for this recipe. Since the garlic is just stirred in at the end, it lends a pretty strong flavor. You can always stir in a bit more if desired :)

  • Reply
    ginger CARBONE
    September 26, 2019 at 1:59 pm

    I made this and was delighted. It’s my favorite soup and this just took it up a notch. Excellent !! The fennel was delish in it.
    This is a keeper.

  • Reply
    Tessa
    January 19, 2020 at 4:18 pm

    So good! I love how the lentils and veggies don’t get too soft so there’s some bite to the soup. My whole fam loved it!

  • Reply
    Helena
    February 16, 2020 at 3:09 am

    Fennel had just gone out of season for me so I subbed with celery! I also opted out of the 1 cup of water when I saw how much broth there was. The consistency is a bit on the runny side and 25 minutes of simmering later, the carrots and onions were still crunchy. So I might let that cook for a bit longer next time, and perhaps add more lentils.

    Otherwise, good tip on the fire-roasted tomatoes! That really added an extra edge to this soup :)

  • Reply
    Ange
    March 3, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    Can you make this in a Crock-Pot?

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 3, 2020 at 7:29 pm

      We haven’t test this, sorry!

  • Reply
    Debbie
    March 25, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    Thank you so much for introducing me to bulb fennel and fire-roasted tomatoes. I’m just starting to transition to a Mediterranean diet and this was the first recipe I chose to make to further that goal. This recipe is a keeper! My husband and I loved it and found it flavorful and filling. My husband read the comments and saw the suggestion of the addition of red wine vinegar. He stirred in one-half tablespoonful into his second (!) individual serving and also gave that serving suggestion a big thumbs up. Thank you for making the first step in my journey to a healthier diet such a delightful one! Bon Appetiti!

    • Reply
      Alex Overhiser
      March 26, 2020 at 9:12 am

      So glad you enjoyed! And yes, fennel has been to long overlooked in the produce aisle — it adds so much flavor :)

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