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. Even better, they make 40 times less greenhouse gases than a burger. (Right? More on that below.) They’re are a plant protein that’s pretty perfect. And we’ve found our favorite new way to eat them: our Best Damn Lentil Soup. Yes, we’re pulling out the expletives because this one is so delicious, you won’t even remember that you’re doing your body and the planet good. You’ll just feel like you’re wrapped in a cozy hug. Did we mention it’s a totally plant based dinner recipe, too? This vegan lentil soup is ready to amaze you. Take it from our readers:

“I made your Best Damn Lentil Soup and totally agree with the title of the recipe! Delicious!” -Sarah

Got an Instant Pot? Here’s the same soup in a pressure cooker: Instant Pot Lentil Soup

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 lentil soups 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! The tricks to how to make lentil soup that’s irresistible?

Saute onion and fennel. Using fresh fennel along with the standard onion brings a smoky, nuanced undertone to this soup. You can find fresh fennel in mainstream groceries in the produce section: it looks like a big onion with a fuzzy top.

Using fresh fennel along with the standard onion brings a smoky, nuanced undertone to this soup. You can 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 cut fennel and how to dice an onion quickly: we can help! We have some great knife skills tutorials that can help you cut them in a flash:

Use fire roasted tomatoes. Fire roasted tomatoes are sweeter out of the can than standard tomatoes, which can have a bitter aftertaste. The tomatoes run the show here, so if you can’t find them, try to locate the best quality tomatoes you can.

Add minced garlic at the end. Typically garlic is added at the beginning of a soup, when you’re sauteing the vegetables. To bring even more flavor, here we’ve added minced garlic at the end when the soup is done simmering. You’ll add it and let the soup stand for 5 minutes to infuse the flavor.

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)

Good for the planet, too

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! Or if you need more ideas, check out our Best Lentil Recipes or Top Vegan Recipes.

Lentil soup recipe
You can also make this one in an Instant Pot.

Lentil soup variations

If you’ve got an Instant Pot, we’ve got a version of this lentil soup for the pressure cooker too! Head to Instant Pot Lentil Soup.

If you’re looking for a pureed lentil soup, try our Creamy Red Lentil Soup.

If you’re looking for a lentil soup with squash, our Superfood Butternut Squash Lentil Soup is a perfect fall dinner: it also stars leeks and leafy green kale.

If you’re in the mood for a curry instead, try our Red Lentil Curry (Ethiopian Lentils).

Lentil soup recipe

Why people love it

To make sure this really was the best lentil soup, we tested this recipe with our readers before publishing them here on A Couple Cooks. This cozy Instant Pot lentil soup went over with our real-life recipe testers! Here’s what they had to say:

  • “Made the soup last night. It divided into 6+ hearty portions. I liked the flavor. My husband said this could easily go into regular rotation at our house!” -Laura
  • “The lentil soup turned out great! We really liked it! We think it would serve 4 to 5 people, but I guess it depends on the people (my boyfriend can eat haha!).” -Amanda

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 lentil 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 (8 votes, average: 4.50 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 diced fire roasted tomatoes
  • 1 quart vegetable broth
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 3 cups 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

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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.

4 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.

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