Simple Lentil Soup (and also the best!)

simple lentil soup

I’ve said it before, bean soups are some of my favorite soups. And this simple lentil soup has quickly wormed its way into my heart and stomach and that turn of phrase is slightly inappropriate on a food blog but you know what I mean.

The key is a little bit of bacon. I know! Who’d’ve thunk. A half-teaspoon of smoked paprika works in place of bacon if you’re vegetarian. The other key is the sherry. 

I suspect that many people don’t keep sherry on hand and if you don’t want to, just omit it. BUT if you’re not morally opposed to alcohol, get yourself a bottle of cheap sherry to use in cooking. Not cooking sherry (“cooking” wines have lots of salt added to them) just a dry sherry from the very bottom shelf. You should be able to find one for under $10 easily. I use Fairbanks California sherry.

Buy it, take it home, start using a splash to deglaze every pan. I know it doesn’t seem like it should add much, but boy it really does. And the best part — to me — about cooking with sherry is that while it tastes okay in a glass, I’m never tempted to drink any of it (unlike when I try to keep wine on-hand for cooking because guess how long that lasts … )

This recent recipe for creamy orzo with mushrooms is another example of how to use sherry in recipes. And also this spatchcock chicken.

simple lentil soup recipe


Simple Lentil Soup (and also the best!)

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

4.8 from 8 reviews

  • Author: Hilah
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x



4 strips bacon*

1 medium onion

2 large carrots

2 celery stalks

2 cloves garlic

1 tablespoon sherry (or omit)

1 cup dry green or brown lentils

1 bay leaf

68 cups water

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

2 teaspoons soy sauce (use 1 teaspoon salt if you can’t do soy)


Dice the bacon finely and put into a large pot over medium-high heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon fat has mostly rendered out and the bacon bits are beginning to crisp (about 5 minutes)

Meanwhile, dice the onion and slice carrots and celery. Add the onion to the bacon and cook a minute or two until beginning to soften.

Add carrots, celery and minced garlic. Cook 60 seconds. Deglaze the pot with the sherry.

Once sherry has evaporated and the bottom of the pan has been scraped up, add the lentils, bay and 6 cups of water. Cover and bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. (If your pot’s lid doesn’t seal really tight, add 8 cups of water instead to make up for evaporation loss.)

At 30 minutes, the lentils should be softened. Add paprika and soy sauce and simmer another 10-15 minutes. If the soup is thick enough, keep the lid on; if it’s too thin, simmer uncovered.

Serve hot. Soup freezes and reheats perfectly.


*For a vegetarian lentil soup, omit bacon. Saute vegetables in a tablespoon of oil or butter. Add 1/2 teaspoon of smoked paprika along with the sweet paprika.


  • Serving Size: 1 1/2 cups
  • Calories: 305
  • Fat: 8
  • Carbohydrates: 37
  • Protein: 20

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simple lentil soup recipe


  1. Rick on February 22, 2017 at 11:29 am

    I would be willing to bet that this would be even better using stock (chicken or vegetable) in place of the water. Whatcha think Hilah?

    • Hilah on February 22, 2017 at 2:58 pm

      For sure! If you have it, stock is always tastier than water 🙂

    • Willie on November 16, 2017 at 11:48 am

      Mirepoix is veggie stock too Rick

    • Ale on August 31, 2020 at 11:14 am

      Im glad I found a recipe that didn’t require stock or broth. It makes no difference, all it is is another trip to the market.

    • Catalina Leavitt on October 29, 2020 at 5:55 pm

      I added broth, it was delicious!! I was so excited to find a lentil soup without tomatoes. I have GERD (acid reflux) so I try to stay away from tomatoes. Thank you so much!!!

      Catalina Leavitt

  2. Louise R on February 22, 2017 at 12:07 pm

    OK! I’ve made my shopping list … and I am definitely going to make this soup. It looks great. I wont be making any changes to your original suggestions. Now all I have to do is get out of my pyjamas, do my hair, put on my face, get in the car and drive to the supermarket!

    P.S. I’ve already done the vacuuming.

    • Hilah on February 22, 2017 at 2:57 pm

      Haha! You’re doing better than me right now, Louise 😉

      • Louise R on February 23, 2017 at 11:32 am

        Hilah I’ve found a clear bag in the back cupboard. I am assuming they are brown lentils. I smelled the bag and nothing appears off. I have no idea how old (years) they are. You don’t mention having to soak overnight so I am assuming they are ready to go. What are your thoughts on tossing in this find? I’ve read that they last forever – but these were just in a lightweight plastic bag – not sealed in a container.

        • Hilah on February 23, 2017 at 11:40 am

          Hi Louise!
          If they are lentils, you can totally use them in this recipe. Dried beans and lentils are great because they last almost forever. Or maybe actually forever 😉
          Lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking, but older (and therefore drier) beans and lentils will take longer to soften. You could soak your lentils overnight and then drain and proceed as the recipe is written; or just follow instructions as-is and let the soup cook longer. It’s hard to say how much longer, but maybe just 30 minutes more.

      • Roe on February 2, 2022 at 1:37 pm

        Five star!
        I made it with beef broth and sausage instead of bacon
        Family loved it!
        We all love soup night

        • Hilah on February 8, 2022 at 11:38 am

          Thanks, Roe! Glad you enjoyed 🙂

  3. Louise R on February 24, 2017 at 9:54 am

    Okay. Bought everything new, including Sherry! Made the recipe yesterday exactly to your specs. Used only the 6 cups of water. No alterations. Disappointed in flavour. I make a lot of soups and found it to be very … watery and devoid of flavour. I’m thinking Rick’s idea of using chicken stock might help. I’m sorry Hilah, I REALLY wanted it to be yummy! 🙁

    P.S. Thankyou for the Sherry tip! LOVED that aroma as it did its job! I’ll be doing that from now on for sure!

    • Hilah on February 24, 2017 at 10:54 am

      Weird! I’ve made it several times now and always love it. Did you try letting it boil with the lid off for a bit to thicken and concentrate it?
      Glad you’re on board with the sherry!

      • Louise R on February 27, 2017 at 6:34 pm

        Hi … felt bad after clicking SEND and leaving a comment that was not a postive one. I’ve never done that before. You can use your magic comment eraser and blot it out ;-). The texture was actually perfect. It was not watery in texture so much as flavour. I’ll shut up now :-). I think I’ll go and pour myself a glass of that fabulous sherry and drink a toast to you as you follow your dream. I wish you every success.

        • Hilah on February 28, 2017 at 4:08 pm

          That’s alright, Louise! I’m sorry it didn’t work for you the way it worked for me.

  4. Diego on February 24, 2017 at 1:28 pm

    This is episode was a great one, it was a good recipe I have made this and it was a great soup and I want to say that I have a preference you should make red velvet cake i have a hard time to know how to do this so if you can do this i would love that. here is the link to the recipe if you want to try it.

  5. Tamarra ANDREWS on February 27, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    I made this tonight only change I made was to add a few potatoes. There is a local deli where I live that has the best lentil soup. I have been trying to find a recipe that matches that suit for a long time.( they all want to put tomatoes in it I don’t know why.) This soup is the closest I have come. Delicious! Thanks Hilah!

    • Hilah on February 28, 2017 at 4:07 pm

      SO glad to hear that, Tamarra! I’m with you on the no-tomato lentil soup preference. 🙂

  6. Shannon on May 4, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    I searched the internet high and low for a simple lentil soup recipe, one that I had all the ingredients for already. Everyone wants to add tomatoes! Meh. Finally, I came across this gem. It’s so good, and true to its name, so simple.

    I made it in the pressure cooker with 6 cups of water for 15 minutes, and it worked perfectly. I reduced it for 10 minutes afterwards to concentrate the flavors. To make it vegan, I sautéed the veggies in coconut oil, and I added tempeh bacon at the end. I used smoked paprika and it was so tasty.

    Thanks for sharing a truly delicious, simple lentil soup recipe!

    • Hilah on May 4, 2018 at 7:29 pm

      That makes me so happy, Shannon! Thanks for sharing the pressure cooker details, too. 🙂

  7. Rebecca on January 11, 2020 at 8:15 am

    Could smoked sausage be used ?

    • Hilah on January 12, 2020 at 9:15 am


  8. Sydney on February 13, 2020 at 3:12 pm

    Hila, this is nothing short of AMAZING! Thank you so much for sharing this…I’d been looking for a lentil soup recipe like my mum’s when I was a kid, and this is as good if not better! It just finished simmering, and being the impatient person I am, I had to taste it now instead of waiting until dinner. I cannot thank you enough for this delicious, healthy, and low-calorie (for those of us weight-conscious) recipe!

    For other readers’ reference, the changes I made included:
    -omitting the sherry
    -1 large russet potato (peeled and diced) instead of celery
    -2 chicken-flavored bullion cubes

    Thank you again, Hila. This is unbelievable!

  9. Jan on October 11, 2020 at 7:26 pm

    This. Is. Gooooood!

  10. Rosanna Bello on November 22, 2020 at 10:48 am

    No flavor? Had to add salt and pepper. Did not see it as part of recipe.

    • Hilah on November 25, 2020 at 5:11 am

      The soy sauce adds enough salt for me

  11. Michelle on December 16, 2020 at 1:39 pm

    Thank you, this recipe has lots of flavor. My son has MANY food allergies, so I had to change the recipe to suit his needs. He is allergic to tomato, onion and soy sauce. I omitted the onion and added an extra bay leaf, I used Bragg organic Coconut Liquid Aminos in place of the soy sauce. Next time I will use 5-6 cups of College Inn 100% Natural Chicken Broth. In my haste, I used 8 cups which was WAY TOO MUCH! Or, I will use 2 cups lentils? Always good to experiment.

  12. Susan Macke on August 10, 2022 at 6:22 pm

    Thank you so much – this is an excellent recipe! I made it without bacon and used low salt soy sauce. This is the best meal I’ve found that is low salt/low fat and still tastes hearty, comforting, and super delicious.

    • Hilah on August 12, 2022 at 8:07 am

      I’m so glad to hear that, Susan!

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