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This cozy Italian lentil soup is so tasty, you’ll immediately want seconds! It’s healthy, easy, and full of bold flavor.

Italian lentil soup
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This Italian lentil soup came together by chance. Ever have those moments where your spouse or partner is really passionate about something, and you’re not so sure about it? Alex had a vision of creating an Italian lentil soup recipe with artichokes, tomatoes, and lentils. I was dubious it would all work together… and even he was surprised at how well it came out! This soup recipe pairs earthy and tangy flavors in a way that draws you in bite after bite.

What to know about this lentil and kale soup

This Italian lentil soup comes together in just over 30 minutes and requires very little skill to make. The Italian seasonings and tangy fire-roasted tomatoes make it totally irresistible. My extended family loves it so much that we make it every Christmas Eve! Here are a few keys to the flavor in this lentil soup recipe:

  • Fire roasted tomatoes are a must. Fire roasted tomatoes are a must in this lentil soup. The tomatoes add a subtly sweet flavor that you won’t get if you use regular canned tomatoes. If you can’t find them, use the highest quality tomatoes you can find.
  • Season as needed throughout the cooking process. Depending on tomato and artichoke brands, you may need to add a different amount of salt to this Tuscan lentil soup. Make sure to taste and add enough salt until the flavor pops.
  • Don’t overcook the lentils. Red lentils need about 20 minutes to cook through fully. If you overcook them, they’ll lose their shape and will become incredibly soft. Your Italian lentil soup may get too thick if the lentils become too soft, so watch closely during the end of the cook time.
Italian lentil soup

All about red lentils!

Red lentils named for their beautiful orange-pink color, though they turn yellow when cooked. Of any of the lentil varieties, the texture of red lentils breaks down the quickest. Because they cook faster than regular brown and green lentils, we love adding them into our soups and stews like this lentil stew.

If your store doesn’t carry red lentils, what to substitute? This Italian lentil soup also works with green or brown lentils. Just keep in mind that using different types of lentils affects the cook time! You may need to cook brown and green lentils a tad longer than the red variety. Red lentils break down very quickly, so make sure not to overcook them.

More red lentil recipes? Masoor Dal is cozy and nuanced, Mediterranean-style Creamy Red Lentil Soup is spiced with cumin and paprika. Or, check out more of our Best Lentil Recipes.

Red lentils
Uncooked red lentils have a vibrant orange-pink color

Cooking with Tuscan kale

Try to find Tuscan kale for this recipe! Tuscan kale is an Italian variety with a dark green color and mild flavor. It may also be labeled as Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale, black kale, or cavolo nero (black cabbage in Italian). The leaves are very dark green and flat, compared to curly kale which has frilly, brighter green leaves. If you can’t find Tuscan kale by any of these names, you can substitute curly kale, or even other leafy greens like spinach or chard.

Why is it best to use in this Italian lentil soup? Well, it’s only fitting to use Italian-style kale in an Italian soup! But the flavor is also important. The flavor of Tuscan kale is milder and sweeter than curly kale, which can taste bitter and spicy.

Tuscan kale
Look for Tuscan kale: also called Lacinato kale, dinosaur kale or cavolo nero

How to serve this Italian lentil soup

To serve this Italian lentil soup recipe as a meal, we suggest a side salad or bread to go along with it. Here are a few suggestions:

Italian lentil soup

This Italian lentil soup recipe is…

Vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, plant-based and dairy free (without the Parmesan cheese garnish).

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Italian Lentil Soup


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4.8 from 5 reviews

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 30 minutes
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 to 6 1x

Description

This cozy Italian lentil soup is so tasty, you’ll immediately want seconds! It’s healthy, easy, and full of bold flavor.


Ingredients

Scale
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 garlic cloves
  • 1 15-ounce can quartered artichoke hearts
  • ½ bunch Tuscan kale (also labeled as Lacinato, dinosaur kale or cavolo nero)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon dried oregano
  • 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 1 cup dried red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 28-ounce cans fire roasted whole tomatoes
  • Shaved Parmesan cheese (optional), for garnish

Instructions

  1. Dice the onion. Mince the garlic. Drain the artichoke hearts, and chop them into bite sized pieces. Wash and thinly slice the kale into ribbons.
  2. In a large soup pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the onion for 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the minced garlic, dried oregano, and dried basil. Saute for another minute.
  3. Add the red lentils, water, red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and 1 bay leaf and bring to a boil.
  4. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer and add the kale, artichokes, and the liquid from the whole tomatoes. Then chop the whole tomatoes into bite sized pieces, and add them to the pot.
  5. Simmer for 20 minutes, until the lentils are tender. Be careful not to overcook the lentils, or they will become too soft.
  6. Taste, and additional kosher salt as necessary. Serve with a drizzle of olive oil and shaved Parmesan cheese.
  • Category: Main Dish
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Italian

Looking for more vegetarian recipes? 

Are you looking for vegetarian dinner recipes? Here are a few of our favorite simple dinner vegetarian dinner recipes outside of this Tuscan lentil soup:

Last updated: October 2020

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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93 Comments

  1. Andrew Wu says:

    Hi, I noticed that you did not use any broth for this soup.. which we would normally do.. Any particular reason? because the ingredients are “strong enough” to carry the flavor?

    Thanks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We just made this ourselves for christmas eve! No need for broth with all of the tomatoes.

  2. Brenda Blomquist says:

    I have made this dish numerous times and absolutely LOVE it!! Can it be done in a crockpot??
    Thank you,
    Brenda






    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      We haven’t tried it! Let us know if you do.

  3. Hope Dymond says:

    This was a delicious soup! I’ve made it over and over with different kinds of lentils. Most recently, I added some cannellini beans for extra heartiness, and they fit right in.

    The only advice I’d give is that I find myself adding 3 to 4 times the amount of water in the recipe, and then I have to up the other spices so it doesn’t get bland. If I don’t add more water, the soup turns into more of a salad- there simply is not enough broth.

    All in all though, a staple in my meal prep rotation as a college student!






  4. Lisa Carroll says:

    I noticed you do not include sodium content on your recipes. I would love to try some of these but I am someone who needs to watch my sodium intake.
    Thanks!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      Hi! Our nutrition analyzer doesn’t do well with sodium because brands of broth, beans, etc have vastly different amounts of sodium. We always call for kosher salt which has has ‭1,920‬ mg of sodium per teaspoon.

  5. Sarah says:

    This is a delicious recipe and came together quickly and easily! I used fire roasted diced tomatoes and added some cannellini beans for extra protein. I did not add any salt because my diced tomatoes added plenty to the dish. SO DELICIOUS. This will be on repeat at our house!

    1. Alex Overhiser says:

      So glad you enjoyed it!

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