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What is Lentil Soup?

By Bethany Keene
Updated Feb 16, 2024
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Lentil soup is a hearty soup made with small legumes known as lentils, which are similar to beans. The soup also includes other spices and vegetables. This soup can easily be made vegetarian or vegan, and is a very healthy dish. Though there are many different recipes for making this soup, the basics are fairly constant across recipes.

Lentils are typically purchased in a bag, dried. Some experts recommend soaking lentils before cooking them, while others recommend simply cooking the dried beans. It is up to individual taste preferences and the types of lentils used; in general, lentils that are soaked first will be softer and have a slightly "mushy" consistency compared to those cooked without soaking. Be sure to always rinse the lentils before cooking with them.

Though canned lentils are available, they are not often recommended for recipes because they are significantly more expensive than dried lentils, and can have an unpleasant texture. Lentils come in many different varieties, including brown, black, tan, green, and red, among others. It is possible to only use one variety of lentils for lentil soup, or to use a combination. The lentils most commonly used for soup include brown, black, and green. It may be possible to find a "lentil soup mix" bag of dried lentils at the grocery store, which features a pre-made combination of lentils designed for soup recipes.

In addition to the lentils, lentil soup might contain a number of other ingredients. For any soup, it is necessary to have a base. It can have a base made of chicken or beef stock, though vegetable broth can also be used for a vegetarian alternative. Some people choose to add pieces of sausage to the soup as well. In addition, common vegetables added to lentil soup include tomatoes, carrots, celery, onions, and leafy greens such as spinach, kale, or chard. Other common seasonings include olive oil, garlic, black pepper, and thyme.

For specific lentil soup recipes, searching online is the best method. Keep in mind that any recipe can be altered to taste, and this type of soup is particularly easy to experiment with. Making large batches and freezing some is a great way to have quick and easy dinners all year long, as this soup is filling without being too heavy. Lentils are very high in protein, iron, and fiber, and are a popular staple not just in vegetarian diets but in many Middle Eastern and Mediterranean dishes as well.

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Discussion Comments

By fify — On Jul 17, 2011

After four tries, I've finally made the perfect cup of lentil soup. It turns out that there two important points to follow when making it.

First, it has to simmer. Even if the lentils are cooked, you need to keep simmering so that the ingredients come together. I used to turn it off when the lentils were cooked and it always looked like the ingredients were separate from the broth.

The second thing is to remove any scum while the soup is cooking and simmering. It's the foam that accumulates on top of the soup. Just spoon it out as it accumulates.

Cooking lentil soup is not difficult but these tips really do make a difference. It turns out much better.

By burcinc — On Jul 17, 2011

My mom makes this for me when I'm sick. It's so hearty, filling and healthy. It literally brings me back to my feet when I'm sick. In addition to lentils, my mom also puts onion, potatoes and carrots in it and serves it with lemon for extra vitamins.

She tops it with a seasoning of oregano and chilli pepper that's heated in olive oil. I'm sure that has benefits too. I have seen some people add cumin in it as well, but I'm not used to that taste. I love how my mom makes it.

By serenesurface — On Jul 16, 2011

Red lentil soup is the best, it's my favorite. I buy dry broken red lentils from the Middle Eastern store. If you buy broken lentils, you won't need to soak them for very long, they will cook much faster and a blender won't be required either.

Usually the lentils take a long time to cook- about two hours and you would need to put it through the blender to smooth it out. If you have broken lentils, you won't need to go through so much trouble.

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