Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup

$5.24 recipe / $0.52 serving
by Beth - Budget Bytes
4.92 from 151 votes
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OMG… This Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup is my new all-time favorite soup! I’ve already eaten two bowls since I made it today at lunch and I don’t think I’ll even need to freeze any because it will be gone fast. This super flavorful and hearty soup is a vegetarian take on the old classic, Lentil & Sausage Stew, from way back in 2010. I replaced the sausage with black beans, added some tomatoes for brightness, and nixed the spinach. The black beans help make everything thick and creamy and the blend of herbs and spices just can’t be beat. It’s soooo good. So many colors, flavors, and textures in one bowl, and super cheap, too!

The best part? I already had most of the ingredients on hand, so when I went to pick up the remaining items my total bill was about $3. It pays to shop in your pantry before you shop in the store!

Top view of a bowl of Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup with a spoon on the side

What Kind of Lentils to Use

I used a quick cooking brown lentil for this recipe. These lentils are also sometimes called green lentils, depending on the brand, but they are not the same as French green lentils, which take much longer to cook. The lentils used in this recipe only need to be simmered for about 20 minutes to become tender and do not require pre-soaking.

I do not suggest using red or yellow lentils for this recipe because they do not hold their shape and will become mushy once boiled, resulting in a soup more similar in texture to split pea soup.

What Else Can I Add?

I love the flexibility of soup. If you want to add a little extra green to your soup, feel free to add some chopped fresh spinach or frozen spinach, and just stir it in until wilted and heated through. I love to top my lentil and vegetable soup with a dollop of sour cream or a pinch of cheese! If you like things spicy, feel free to add a diced jalapeño or a couple dashes of hot sauce.

How to Store the Leftovers

This recipe makes a HUGE batch, but thankfully the leftovers taste great! I like to divide my soup into single serving portions right after cooking to facilitate faster cooling, and to make the leftovers really easy to grab-n-go (and reheat). This soup also freezes great, so once it’s completely chilled in the refrigerator you can transfer it to the freezer for long-term storage (about three months).

Side view of a bowl of Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Sop with spoon
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Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup

4.92 from 151 votes
This Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup is packed with hearty flavor, texture, and good-for-you vegetables! 
Servings 8 1.25 cups each
Prep 10 minutes
Cook 35 minutes
Total 45 minutes

Ingredients

  • 2 Tbsp olive oil ($0.32)
  • 2 cloves garlic ($0.16)
  • 1 yellow onion ($0.50)
  • ½ lb. carrots (3-4 carrots) ($0.55)
  • 3 ribs celery ($0.80)
  • 1 15oz. can black beans ($0.89)
  • 1 cup brown lentils ($0.31)
  • 1 tsp ground cumin ($0.10)
  • 1 tsp dried oregano ($0.10)
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika ($0.05)
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper ($0.02)
  • Freshly ground black pepper ($0.05)
  • 1 15oz. can petite diced tomatoes ($0.85)
  • 4 cups vegetable broth* ($0.52)
  • 1/2 tsp salt ($0.02)

Instructions 

  • Mince the garlic and dice the onion. Sauté both in a large pot with olive oil over medium heat until the onions are tender. Meanwhile, slice the celery and peel and slice the carrots. Add the celery and carrots to the pot and continue to sauté for about 5 minutes more.
  • Drain the can of black beans and add it to the pot along with the diced tomatoes (with juices), dry lentils, cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, cayenne pepper, and some freshly cracked pepper (10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Finally, add the vegetable broth, and stir to combine.
  • Increase the heat to medium high and allow the pot to come up to a boil. Once it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, place a lid on top, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. After 30 minutes, test the lentils to make sure they are tender. If not, continue to simmer until they are tender.**
  • Taste the soup and add salt as needed (I added 1/2 tsp). Serve hot.

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Notes

*I use Better Than Bouillon brand soup base to make my vegetable broth. It’s less expensive than canned or boxed broths.
**Brown lentils take about 20-30 minutes to cook, green or French lentils take closer to 45 minutes to cook.

Nutrition

Serving: 1.25CupsCalories: 224.58kcalCarbohydrates: 37.24gProtein: 11.75gFat: 4.16gSodium: 858.43mgFiber: 10.49g
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Dollop of sour cream on top of a bowl of Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup with a spoon

A little dollop of sour cream is SO GOOD on this Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup.

How to Make Vegetable and Lentil Soup – Step by Step Photos

Sauté Garlic and Onion in pot

Mince two cloves of garlic and dice one onion. Sauté both in a large pot with 2 Tbsp olive oil over medium heat until the onions have softened. 

Celery and Carrots added to pot to cook

While the garlic and onion are cooking, clean and slice 1/2 lb. (3-4 medium) carrots and 3 ribs celery. Add them to the pot and continue to cook for about 5 more minutes.

Extra celery and carrots chopped and put in zip lock bag for a "Soup Starter" to freeze for later

Most of my soups start with 1/2 lb. of carrots and 3-4 ribs of celery, so instead of just letting the other half of each go limp in the fridge, I go ahead and slice them up then freeze them for the next soup. 

Beans, Lentils, Tomatoes and Spices added to pot with other ingredients

Once the carrots and celery have cooked a few minutes, add 1 cup dry brown lentils, one 15 oz. can black beans (drained), one 15oz. can diced tomatoes (with juices), 1 tsp cumin, 1 tsp oregano, 1/2 tsp smoked paprika, 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper, and some freshly ground black pepper (about 10-15 cranks of a pepper mill). Stir to combine.

Vegetable Broth added to pot with other ingredients

And 4 cups of vegetable broth. Stir well. Increase the heat to medium-high and let it come up to a boil. When it reaches a boil, turn the heat down to low, place a lid on top, and let it simmer for 30 minutes. 

Simmering soup Until Lentils are Tender

After 30 minutes, test the lentils to make sure they are tender. If you have green or French lentils, they may need to simmer for 45 minutes or so to fully soften. Also taste the soup and add salt if desired (I added 1/2 tsp of salt). Now it’s ready to serve!

Top view of a bowl of Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup with a spoon in it
Spoonful of Chunky Lentil and Vegetable Soup being held over bowl
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  1. Love this! Threw in some extra veggies I had on hand (bell pepper and zucchini). Excellent with cheese on top. Will make again.

  2. I just threw this in a crock pot. Also, only had 1.5 cups broth. Any ideas how to adjust seasoning and liquid? Is it ok in the crock pot?

    1. 1.5 cups of broth probably isn’t enough to make it into a soup, the lentils will absorb just about all of that. I’m not sure about cooking it in a slow cooker. I’d really need to test it before offering advice.

  3. Been coming back to this recipe for years. Its definitely a go to when I’m craving lentils and a hearty meal.

  4. Is there a way you could use canned lentils in this recipe? I have a ton of canned lentils at my house that I don’t know what to do with lol

    1. Yes, you could use canned lentils but then you’ll probably need less broth (maybe about half) because the canned lentils will not absorb any of that liquid like dry lentils will. :) Since you’re reducing the broth you may also need to add more salt to compensate, but it’s always best to taste and add salt at the end if needed!