The world’s most versatile, budget-friendly lentil soup. Kid-friendly, customizable and you can make it in a slow cooker.
Someday, when people ask my children about their most vivid childhood food memories, I’m pretty sure this lentil soup will rank near the top of the list. Not because lentil soup is the most glamorous or gourmet meal. Not because its a kid-pleaser like pizza or spaghetti. But because its a no-fail, inexpensive, nutrition-packed, easy to make workhorse of a weekday meal. We eat some variation of this recipe almost once a week, nine months out of the year. My children love it. On lentil soup night, they insist that their bowls are filled high and replenished often. Its warm, filling, soulful nutrition that we can all agree upon. Thats the power of this lentil soup.
Even better, its incredibly easy to make and quite customizable. Have some bacon in the house? Throw it in. Leftover ham? Throw it in? No meat? Its meatless Monday! No celery? Double the carrots and move on. Planning to be gone all day? Sautee the veggies and throw it all in the slow cooker on low for 6 hours. Anything goes and its always good. The only non-negotiable is to thoroughly rinse and soak the lentils briefly before adding them to the pot. Lentils can be hard on the tummy and soaking them tends to reduce or eliminate some of the compounds that can cause discomfort.
Now that fall has arrived, I’ve been stocking up on lentils — a one pound bag only costs about a dollar. One taste of this soup and you’ll want to do the same.
No-Fail Lentil Soup
Serves 6 – 8
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 slices bacon, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 garlic cloves, chopped
1 teaspoon fresh thyme, stems removed and leaves minced
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup water (or more)
1 1/2 cups lentils, rinsed, drained
1 14 1/2–ounce can diced, fire-roasted tomatoes in juice
Juice from 1 lemon
1 tablespoon of butter
Salt & pepper to taste
fresh parsley, chopped
- Pick through lentils to remove any rocks or debris. Rinse lentils under cool water for 30 seconds then place in a large bowl, covering completely with fresh water. Allow lentils to soak for at least 30 minutes. Drain and rinse thoroughly before adding to the soup.
- Heat oil in heavy large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium–high heat. Add bacon, onions, celery, carrots, and garlic; sauté until vegetables begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
- Add thyme, 4 cups broth, water, lentils and tomatoes with juice and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium–low, cover and simmer until lentils are tender, about 35 minutes. (For Slow Cooker: transfer all ingredients to a slow cooker. Cover and cook on “low” for 6 hours).
- Puree soup with a stick blender to develop a smoother consistency (some texture should remain). Alternately, transfer 2 cups soup (mostly solids) to an upright blender and puree until smooth. Return puree to soup in pan; thin soup with more water by 1/4 cupfuls, if too thick.
- Gently stir in lemon juice and butter until melted and fully incorporated. Season generously with salt, pepper. Ladle soup into bowls to serve. Garnish with fresh parsley, if desired.
You may also enjoy…