The BEST Hearty Vegetable Lentil Soup

2 bowls of healthy lentil soup

This is the BEST healthy lentil soup recipe, packed with fresh veggies, and protein-rich lentils. A satisfying, filling, nourishing soup perfect for any day of the year. Vegan, Vegetarian, and Gluten-Free.

close up of lentil soup with vegetables

Most good pots of soup begin the same way: A chilly day, at least 30 minutes free to play in the kitchen, a great audiobook or podcast to listen to, and pantry staples plus veggies that need cooking.

I’ve had many requests for lentil soup over the past few months and I’ve thought… “geez, lentil soup is kind of boring what about a bit of a jazzier more exotic soup?”

Then last week I woke up with the biggest hankering for lentil soup, and all the above requirements were in place.

The stars were aligned. I set to work and gathered all the veggies in my fridge that needed cooking.

After sautéing veggies I added a generous glug of marsala wine. The soup started to take shape. An earthy caramelized aroma filled my kitchen and I thought… yup, soup is magical.

Toss in lentils, stock, and aromatics (I used thyme and bay leaf) bring to a simmer, and relax.

The first time I made this recipe I left the entire pot of lentil soup on the stove, set about my day, returned to the kitchen to find an empty pot. Completely empty. Jordan demolished 8 servings of soup in one afternoon. 

So there you have it. Good enough to eat the entire pot in one sitting.

Let’s Get Cooking!

Ingredients for hearty vegetable lentil soup

Ingredients for hearty vegetable lentil soup

INGREDIENTS NEEDED TO MAKE THIS RECIPE:

This recipe is based on pantry staples plus some hearty healthy veggies. Detailed measurements and detailed ingredients can be found within the recipe card at the end of this post.

  • Lentils – Brown or green lentils should be used for this recipe. They are the heartiest lentil and will hold their shape in the soup.
  • Vegetable Stock – If you aren’t vegetarian or vegan you can use chicken stock.
  • Carrots, Onions, Celery, Garlic – Aromatic veggies that serve as the base for most great soups. I have many friends and clients that dislike celery (it’s a thing, I can’t explain it) if you happen to also be in the loathe celery camp you can absolutely leave it out. 
  • Mushrooms – I used cremini mushrooms, but just about any mushroom will work. I love the hearty meaty texture and rich umami flavor of mushrooms in this soup.
  • Kale – Any hearty leafy green will do, but you know my affinity for kale!
  • Marsala Wine – Marsala wine is a fortified wine made in Italy, it lends a nutty, rich, slightly sweet, caramelized flavor to the soup. If you don’t have Marsala wine a splash of port or sherry would work or 2 tbsp of balsamic vinegar. 
  • Fresh thyme and bay leaves – Herbs always make a soup better, in this recipe I used dry bay leaves and fresh thyme
  • Parmesan Cheese – The cheese is 100% optional. I’ve eaten this soup without cheese a million times.

TOOLS YOU WILL USE:

2 bowls of healthy lentil soup

2 bowls of healthy lentil soup

HOW TO MAKE THE BEST LENTIL SOUP

I have had my share of boring bland lentil soups. Lentil soup tends to be the recipe that is served at every vegetarian cafe and only about 1% of them make a GOOD lentil soup. Here are a few reasons to love this recipe:

  • Texture – I love a lentil soup with a variety of textures. Lentils with bite, tender kale, hearty mushrooms. The texture is key to a good lentil soup. You can blend a portion of the soup to have a thicker creamier texture. I do this sometimes.
  • Layer Flavor! Fresh herbs, marsala wine, aromatic veggies, all add to a delicious soup flavor explosion.
  • This nourishing, tasty, well-balanced soup is easily a meal! Serve with baguette, a sprinkle of cheese, and a big green salad. 
  • This soup freezes and defrosts perfectly. Eat half now and save the rest for another day.
  • This soup uses pantry staples and wholesome fresh vegetables for a protein-packed nutritious meal.

big pot of lentil soup with kale and carrots

NUTRITION NERD CORNER 🤓

Lentils are a plant protein staple in my house, here are some reasons to add lentils to your pantry:

  • Excellent source of protein – 1 cup of cooked lentils contains 18 grams of protein
  • Good source of iron – 1 cup of lentils provides 1/3 of your daily iron requirements
  • High source of fiber – 1 cup of lentils provides four times as much fiber as 1 cup of raw kale. 1 cup of lentils contains 15.6 grams of fiber. I recommend a minimum of 35 grams of fiber per day.
  • Rich in polyphenols – polyphenols are potent micronutrients packed with antioxidants!

WHAT KIND OF LENTILS SHOULD I USE FOR LENTIL SOUP?

There are several varieties of lentils

  • Brown and Green Lentils – The most common lentil, they take a bit longer to cook usually 25-35 minutes. Great in soups and if cooked properly can work in salads. 
  • Red Lentils – Although they are called red the color can range from coral to a yellow/orange color. Red lentils have thin skin and cook down quickly turning to a mushy consistency. Perfect for creamy soups and daal.
  • French Lentils (Lentilles du Puy) – My favorite lentil, when I can find them. French lentils retain their shape when cooked and have a perfect textural pop. They have a thicker skin and require longer cooking, typically 45-55 minutes. I love french lentils in salads and side dishes.
  • Black Beluga Lentils – super flavorful, not as common as the other varieties. Black lentils take 30 minutes to cook, if they cook for closer to 40 minutes they will turn mushy similar to red lentils. 

DIETARY MODIFICATIONS FOR THIS RECIPE:

This soup is naturally gluten-free and vegetarian. It is not suited to be modified as a paleo-friendly recipe.

  • Vegan – Simply eliminate the optional cheese topping. 

close up shot of lentil soup

close up shot of lentil soup

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:

  • Blend a little of the soup using an immersion blender for a creamier texture
  • Use brown or green lentils, not red
  • Don’t skip the marsala wine, or substitute balsamic vinegar
  • Switch up the veggies based on what you have on hand. Some veggies that work well in lentil soup are; sweet potato, white potato, parsnips, fennel, spinach, swiss chard, and cauliflower

LEFTOVERS – HOW TO REHEAT – AND FREEZING TIPS:

  • FREEZING: This soup makes quite a bit so consider freezing half for another day. You can freeze in individual containers or a large container.
  • REHEATING: Warm leftover soup in a small pot on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • LEFTOVERS: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

MY FAVORITE SOUP RECIPES:

Creamy Potato Soup with Bacon

Healthy Spanish Garlic Soup

Icelandic Fish Soup

Nourishing Thai Carrot Soup

The BEST Easy Vegetable Soup

I can’t wait for you to try this Healthy Lentil Soup Recipe! When you make it, snap a photo and tag me on Instagram @abrapappa or use the hashtag #abraskitchen so I can feature your photo! 

If you’ve tried this recipe, don’t forget to rate and leave a comment below. I love to hear from people who’ve made my recipes!

close up of lentil soup with vegetables

Vegetable Lentil Soup

Abra Pappa, MS, CNS, LDN

This is the BEST healthy lentil soup recipe, packed with fresh veggies, and protein-rich lentils. A satisfying, filling, nourishing soup perfect for any day of the year. 

.wprm-recipe-rating .wprm-rating-star.wprm-rating-star-full svg * { fill: #849974; }

0 from 0 votes

Prep Time 15 mins

Cook Time 45 mins

Course Soup

Cuisine American

Servings 8 servings

Calories 199 kcal

Ingredients  

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion diced
  • 4 carrots diced
  • 4 stalks of celery diced
  • 4 cloves garlic chopped
  • 4 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms sliced
  • 1 cup dried lentils green or brown lentils
  • 1/2 cup marsala wine
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 4 cups kale chopped
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

Instructions 

  • Rinse lentils and sort through to be sure there are no little stones or sediment. Set aside.

  • In a large soup pot over medium heat sauté onion, carrot, celery, fresh thyme, bay leaves, and garlic in olive oil for 8 minutes stirring frequently.

  • Add mushrooms to the pot, sauté for an additional 2 minutes. Add marsala wine, stir well, scraping any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Continue cooking until wine has almost completely evaporated this should take a few minutes.

  • Add lentils and 6 cups of stock. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and slow simmer for 45 minutes – 1 hour or until lentils are tender.

  • Once lentils are tender, using an immersion blender blend the soup for a few minutes until thick and creamy. (this step is optional)
  • Add kale to soup and cook stirring frequently for 2-3 minutes.

  • Remove thyme sprigs and bay leaves.

  • Ladle into bowls and top with fresh chopped herbs and a sprinkle of grated parmesan cheese (optional)

Notes

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:

  • Blend a little of the soup using an immersion blender for a creamier texture
  • Use brown or green lentils, not red
  • Don’t skip the marsala wine, or substitute balsamic vinegar
  • Switch up the veggies based on what you have on hand. Some veggies that work well in lentil soup are; sweet potato, white potato, parsnips, fennel, spinach, swiss chard, and cauliflower

LEFTOVERS – HOW TO REHEAT – AND FREEZING TIPS:

  • FREEZING: This soup makes quite a bit so consider freezing half for another day. You can freeze in individual containers or a large container.
  • REHEATING: Warm leftover soup in a small pot on the stovetop or in the microwave.
  • LEFTOVERS: Store leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.

Nutrition

Serving: 1bowl (8 total servings in recipe)Calories: 199kcalCarbohydrates: 29gProtein: 9gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gSodium: 1286mgPotassium: 715mgFiber: 9gSugar: 7gVitamin A: 9063IUVitamin C: 45mgCalcium: 104mgIron: 3mg

Can I Help You Meal Plan?

Enter your email below to download my free – one week – real food (mostly plants) meal plan. Grocery list, recipes, prep schedule, it’s all there for you 🙂

/* Layout */ .ck_form.ck_minimal { /* divider image */ background: #f9f9f9; font-family: ‘Helvetica Neue’, Helvetica, Arial, Verdana, sans-serif; line-height: 1.5em; overflow: hidden; color: #666; font-size: 16px; border: solid 1px #d1d1d1; -webkit-box-shadow: none; -moz-box-shadow: none; box-shadow: none; clear: both; margin: 20px 0px; text-align: center; } .ck_form.ck_minimal h3.ck_form_title { text-align: center; margin: 0px 0px 10px; font-size: 28px; } .ck_form.ck_minimal h4 { text-align: center; font-family: ‘Open Sans’, Helvetica, Arial, sans-serif; text-transform: uppercase; font-size: 18px; font-weight: normal; padding-top: 0px; margin-top: 0px; } .ck_form.ck_minimal p { padding: 0px; } .ck_form, .ck_form * { -webkit-box-sizing: border-box; -moz-box-sizing: border-box; box-sizing: border-box; } .ck_form.ck_minimal .ck_form_fields { width: 100%; float: left; padding: 5%; } /* Form fields */ .ck_errorArea { display: none; /* temporary */ } #ck_success_msg { padding: 10px 10px 0px; border: solid 1px #ddd; background: #eee; } .ck_form.ck_minimal input[type=”text”], .ck_form.ck_minimal input[type=”email”] { font-size: 18px; padding: 10px 8px; width: 68%; border: 1px solid #d6d6d6; /* stroke */ -moz-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px; /* border radius */ background-color: #fff; /* layer fill content */ margin-bottom: 5px; height: auto; float: left; margin: 0px; margin-right: 2%; height: 42px; } .ck_form input[type=”text”]:focus, .ck_form input[type=”email”]:focus { outline: none; border-color: #aaa; } .ck_form.ck_minimal .ck_subscribe_button { width: 100%; color: #fff; margin: 0px; padding: 11px 0px; font-size: 18px; background: #00b56e; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px; /* border radius */ cursor: pointer; border: none; text-shadow: none; width: 30%; float: left; height: 42px; } .ck_form.ck_minimal .ck_guarantee { color: #626262; font-size: 12px; text-align: center; padding: 15px 0px 0px; display: block; clear: both; } .ck_form .ck_powered_by { display: block; color: #aaa; font-size: 12px; } .ck_form .ck_powered_by:hover { display: block; color: #444; } .ck_converted_content { display: none; padding: 5%; background: #fff; } .ck_form.ck_minimal.width400 .ck_subscribe_button, .ck_form.ck_minimal.width400 input[type=”email”] { width: 100%; float: none; margin-top: 5px; } .ck_slide_up, .ck_modal, .ck_slide_up .ck_minimal, .ck_modal .ck_minimal { min-width: 400px; } .page .ck_form.ck_minimal { margin: 50px auto; max-width: 600px; } /* v6 */ .ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6, .ck_modal.ck_form_v6, .ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6 .ck_minimal, .ck_modal.ck_form_v6 .ck_minimal { min-width: 0 !important; } @media all and (min-width: 801px) { .ck_modal.ck_form_v6 .ck_form.ck_minimal { margin-left: -300px; width: 600px; } } .ck_modal.ck_form_v6 .ck_minimal .ck_subscribe_form { padding-top: 20px; } .ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6 .ck_minimal .ck_subscribe_form { padding-top: 10px; } .ck_form_v6 #ck_success_msg { margin-top: 15px; padding: 0px 10px; } .ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6 .ck_minimal + .ck_close_link { top: 5px; } .ck_slide_up.ck_form_v6 .ck_minimal h3.ck_form_title { margin-top: 5px; }