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Lentil Soup (Stovetop)

Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time55 mins
Total Time1 hr 8 mins
Servings: 4 to 6 (with bread)
Calories: 395kcal
Author: Nisha Vora


  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
  • 3 medium carrots, diced (peeled or not)
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups (960 mL) low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 pound (450g) baby potatoes, quartered (peel left on)
  • 1 1/2 cups (300g) French green lentils (AKA Puy lentils)
  • Bouquet garni: 2 bay leaves + a few sprigs each of Italian flat-leaf parsley, fresh rosemary, oregano, and thyme, tied tightly together with kitchen twine*
  • 1 28-ounce (800g) can whole peeled tomatoes, crushed by hand**
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Freshly cracked black pepper to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
  • 2 teaspoons aged balsamic vinegar***


  • Heat the oil in a large Dutch oven or soup pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the onion, along with a pinch or two of salt. Cook until onion has softened and golden brown, 6 to 8 minutes.
  • Add the carrots and garlic and another pinch of salt. Cook until the carrots are just starting to soften, 2 to 3 minutes.
  • Pour in the vegetable broth to deglaze the pot. Add the lentils, potatoes, bouquet garni, crushed tomatoes (including their juices), 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt, and pepper to taste. Stir well.
  • Bring the soup to a boil. Then reduce heat to low, cover the pot partially, and simmer the soup for 40 to 50 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the soup seems to be too thick or dry, add the additional broth, ½ cup at a time.
  • Remove the bouquet garni. Stir in the dijon mustard and balsamic vinegar and taste. Add more salt and pepper to taste.


* If you don't have all the herbs, it's totally fine to use just 2 or 3 of them.
** I prefer whole peeled tomatoes, as they are made with just tomatoes (pre-crushed and pre-diced tomatoes have other ingredients added), so there's more pure tomato flavor. If you don't have them, though, just use pre-crushed tomatoes. 
*** A good-quality aged balsamic vinegar is needed: it adds a subtle sweet tanginess that works so well with lentils. The standard $3 imitation balsamic at every grocery store is just sour and doesn't do any favors. If you don't have a good balsamic, try using 1 teaspoon of red wine vinegar or sherry vinegar, taste, and then add more as desired. If the soup tastes too tangy, add a pinch or two of sugar or maple syrup (it won't taste sweet, just there to balance the flavors).