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This easy Lentil Soup recipe can be prepared in the slow cooker, in the Instant Pot, or on the stovetop for a simple make-ahead meal that reheats beautifully throughout the week. It’s cozy, satisfying and incredibly delicious! Serve a bowl with a warm baguette or a slice of cornbread for a quick lunch or dinner option when the weather’s chilly.

Best Lentil Soup Recipe

There are a few reasons this is truly the best lentil soup recipe!

  • Easy. It’s quick and easy. You can whip up a big pot on the stovetop in less than an hour, making it convenient for busy weeknights.
  • Versatile. I’ve included options for the slow cooker, Instant Pot and stovetop, so pick the most convenient method for you.
  • Flavor. While the healthy soup is loaded with vegetables, it doesn’t taste like “health food.” Cooking the vegetables and seasonings in bacon drippings and garnishing the soup with a small amount of bacon adds so much rich, smoky flavor to the pot. That said, if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, you can certainly omit the bacon.

How to Make Lentil Soup

While this hearty Lentil Soup recipe obviously offers plenty of health benefits, you will appreciate the ease and convenience of the recipe the most. Whether you use the Crock Pot, pressure cooker, or stovetop, you’ll have a delicious homemade meal ready with minimal effort!

Ingredients

  • Bacon
  • Dry brown or green lentils
  • Onion
  • Carrots
  • Celery
  • Garlic
  • Cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf
  • Chicken stock
  • Canned crushed tomatoes

Step 1: Cook Bacon

First, sauté the bacon until it’s nice and crispy (about 5 minutes). Remove bacon with a slotted spoon, leaving the bacon drippings in the pot. Set aside the bacon to use for a crispy topping on your soup later!

Plate of cooked bacon

Step 2: Cook Vegetables

Add the carrots, celery and onion to the pot. Cook and stir over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until they’re starting to soften.

Sauteed vegetables in a blue and white soup pot

Step 3: Add Remaining Ingredients

Add the garlic and seasoning, cook for 1 more minute, and then stir in the lentils, stock and crushed tomatoes. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and simmer (covered) for 30-35 minutes — or until the lentils are tender.

Ladle full of lentil soup

Step 4: Puree

Remove the bay leaf, and use an immersion blender to puree just a small portion of the lentils and vegetables. About 3 pulses should do the trick.

Using an immersion blender to thicken lentil soup

This will help to thicken the soup, but you still want to see and taste plenty of great texture from the lentils and veggies — so don’t puree too much.

Steaming ladle full of the best lentil soup recipe

Slow Cooker Lentil Soup

The full Crock Pot instructions are provided below. Once all of the ingredients are added to the slow cooker, cover and cook on LOW for 6-8 hours or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. You know it’s ready when the lentils are nice and tender!

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

See the recipe card below for the complete Instant Pot instructions. You can saute the bacon and veggies in the Instant Pot, and then cook the soup on HIGH pressure for 6 minutes, with a 10-minute natural release at the end. Just remember that it can take the pot up to 25 minutes to come to pressure, so it’s not much faster than the stovetop method.

What spices to put in Lentil Soup?

I keep the seasoning simple by using just a few simple spices: garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and a bay leaf. But feel free to get creative and add extra seasonings that you really love!

The Best Lentils for Soup

I recommend using dried brown or green lentils for this soup because they’re sturdy and don’t break down as easily during the cooking process. If you prefer a smoother soup with the lentils completely soft and smooth, try red lentils instead.

Do you have to soak lentils before cooking them?

No, you don’t! Just rinse the lentils, pick out any irregular or bad ones, and drain them before adding them to your pot.

Dried lentils in a measuring cup

Storage

This lentil soup recipe is a great make-ahead meal. Whip up a batch on the weekend and reheat it for easy lunches and dinners throughout the week. Allow the soup to cool to room temperature, package in airtight containers, and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.

The soup also freezes very well. Packaged in airtight containers, the soup will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. To reheat, thaw frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight. Warm the soup in a pot over low heat on the stovetop, just until it reaches the desired temperature.

Overhead image of two bowls of lentil soup on a wooden table with bread

What to Serve with Easy Lentil Soup

This soup is thick, satisfying and perfectly filling on its own. That said, here are a few sides that pair well with lentil soup:

Cook’s Tips and Recipe Variations

  • Vegetarian Lentil Soup. You can make this lentil soup recipe vegan with a couple of simple tweaks. Omit the bacon and instead sauté the vegetables in 1 tablespoon of olive oil if preparing the soup in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop. Instead of the chicken stock, use vegetable broth (or vegetable stock).
  • Add Sausage. Add a pound of Italian sausage (or other sausage of choice) to the soup. You’ll want to brown the meat in a skillet and drain off the fat before adding it to the soup pot.
  • Use Ham. Simmer the soup with a meaty ham bone or ham hock for tons of rich, smoky flavor. When done, chop the meat from the bone and stir it into the soup (discard the bone).
  • Puree a small portion of the soup for thicker, creamier texture. An immersion is most convenient; however, if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer about 2 cups of soup to a regular blender to puree. If you don’t want to bother with this step, that’s fine! The soup will still be delicious!

Side shot of a bowl of easy lentil soup

More Soup Recipes to Try

Close overhead shot of a bowl of lentil soup with bacon on top

Easy Lentil Soup Recipe

5 from 5 votes
Prep: 15 minutes
Cook: 45 minutes
Total: 1 hour
Servings 13 - 14 cups
Calories 181 kcal
This healthy and easy Lentil Soup recipe can be prepared in the slow cooker, in the Instant Pot, or on the stovetop for a simple make-ahead meal!

Ingredients
  

  • 4 slices thick-cut bacon, chopped
  • 2 cups dry brown or green lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 1 large sweet onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 ½ tablespoons fresh minced garlic
  • 10 cups chicken stock
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon thyme
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Optional garnish: chopped fresh parsley

Instructions

STOVETOP METHOD:

  • In a large soup pot, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to use as a garnish on top of the soup later.
  • Leave bacon drippings in the pot.
  • Add carrots, celery, and onion to the pot. Cook and stir over medium heat for 6-8 minutes, or until starting to soften.
  • Add garlic, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf; cook for 1 more minute.
  • Stir in lentils, chicken stock, and tomatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, covered, for 30-35 minutes (or until lentils and vegetables are tender).
  • Remove bay leaf. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Use an immersion blender to puree a small portion of the soup (about 3 pulses should be fine), or transfer 2 cups of soup to a regular blender and puree. Stir.
  • Serve in individual bowls and top with crispy bacon and fresh parsley.

SLOW COOKER METHOD:

  • In a large skillet, cook bacon over medium heat until crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon and set aside to use as a garnish on top of the soup later.
  • Place 1 tablespoon of the bacon drippings in the bottom of a 6-quart slow cooker (discard any remaining drippings).
  • Add lentils, onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the slow cooker. Stir to coat with bacon drippings.
  • Add chicken stock, tomatoes, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Stir, cover, and cook until lentils and vegetables are tender (on LOW for about 8 hours or on HIGH for about 4 hours).
  • Remove bay leaf. Season with additional salt and pepper, to taste. Use an immersion blender to puree a small portion of the soup (about 3 pulses should be fine), or transfer 2 cups of soup to a regular blender and puree. Stir.
  • Serve in individual bowls and garnish with crispy bacon and fresh parsley.

INSTANT POT METHOD:

  • Turn the Instant Pot to “Sauté” function. When the pot is hot, add bacon and cook until just crispy (about 5 minutes). Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and set aside to use as a garnish on top of the soup later.
  • Leave bacon drippings in the pot.
  • Add onion, carrots, celery, and garlic to the pot with the bacon drippings. Sauté just until the onion is translucent (about 3-5 minutes). Turn off the pot.
  • Add lentils, chicken stock, tomatoes, cumin, paprika, thyme, salt, pepper and bay leaf. Secure the lid on the pot. Close the pressure-release valve. Select “manual” and set the pot at “high” pressure for 6 minutes. It may take the pot up to 25 minutes to come to pressure and start cooking.
  • At the end of the cooking time, allow the pot to sit undisturbed for 10 minutes, then release any remaining pressure.
  • Stir well to combine.
  • Remove bay leaf. Taste the soup and season with additional salt and pepper, if necessary. Use an immersion blender to puree a small portion of the soup (about 3 pulses should be fine), or transfer 2 cups of soup to a regular blender and puree. Stir.
  • Serve in individual bowls and top with crispy bacon and fresh parsley.

Notes

Allow the soup to cool to room temperature, package in airtight containers, and store in the refrigerator for 3-4 days.
The soup also freezes very well. Packaged in airtight containers, the soup will keep in the freezer for up to 3 months.

Nutrition

Serving: 1cupCalories: 181kcalCarbohydrates: 24gProtein: 11gFat: 5gSaturated Fat: 2gCholesterol: 7mgSodium: 879mgPotassium: 602mgFiber: 10gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 2473IUVitamin C: 19mgCalcium: 46mgIron: 3mg
Keyword: easy lentil soup, instant pot soup, lentil soup, lentil soup recipe
Course: Dinner
Cuisine: American
Author: Blair Lonergan
blair

Hey, I’m Blair!

Welcome to my farmhouse kitchen in the foothills of Virginia’s Blue Ridge Mountains. Inspired by local traditions and seasonal fare, you’ll find plenty of easy, comforting recipes that bring your family together around the table. It’s down-home, country-style cooking!

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Comments

  1. That looks like such a warm and cozy meal, Blair! I agree that we don’t need to change the calendar to set goals, but it is nice to feel like you can reset. And I would love to warm up with a big bowl of this for lunch. And yes to all of that bacon on top! Hope you had a wonderful holiday!

    1. Hi, Karen! You can, but the texture will be different. Red lentils kind of dissolve in soup as they cook, giving it a smooth consistency. It’s not “bad,” just different than what you see here. 🙂

  2. Thank you. I used green lentils and a hand blender to cream up the soup after cooking. I also added so e spinach.

  3. 5 stars
    Hi Blair!

    Made this soup tonight and it was really good, although it’s different from what I’m used to. It was nice to make a dish a little outside my palette comfort zone, since I’ve not made a vegetarian or Indian/Middle Eastern before. I used curry powder because I totally forgot to buy cumin but it was still yummy. Thanks for another great recipe.

    Have a good rest of your week!

  4. 5 stars
    Great recipe. I live in Spain so I used pata negra offcuts instead of bacon and cooked them in the stew as they needed to be softened. We still have a lot in the freezer for another day.