Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup Recipe

This quick lentil soup recipe delivers layer after layer of flavor. The tang of the tomatoes plays off the earthiness of the lentils, and the fragrant bolt of saffron yogurt brightens each bowl.

Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup

I propose we kick off the year with one of my very favorite soup recipes from last. I eat lentil soup multiple times a week, and come back to this lentil soup often for a few reasons. It's hearty yet healthy - which in my mind translates to a soup that is filling, tasty, adaptable, and also delivers plenty of good stuff to my body. It's also super tasty.

Lentil Soup Recipe

One and Done

I love a good one bowl meal. And this fits the bill. It gives me energy without weighing me down, and delivers layer after layer of flavor. The tang of the tomatoes plays off the earthiness of the lentils, and the fragrant bolt of saffron yogurt is the closer - brightening each bowl. Delicious.

Nutritional Punch

A few notes on why I like this soup nutritionally. In addition to a nice amount of vegetable based protein in this soup (from the lentils), the recipe also incorporates a touch of dairy, vitamin-rich greens and tomatoes, and good fats. If I have a ripe avocado on hand I'll slice 1/4 of it into a small dice and sprinkle that across the top as well. The avocados have been so sad around here lately that I mostly skip them. With a bit of whole grain toast (or croutons) that have been rubbed with garlic, the whole thing comes together. Or serve over some good brown rice. 

Lentil Soup Variations

Please feel free to think of this soup in broad strokes. There are dozens of ways I make subtle changes to this recipe depending on what I have on hand. I've included a list of variations at the base of the recipe itself. A bunch of you have cooked this and left great comments with ideas you've tried as well.

Your Tweaks

AFG said, "I made a pot of this lentil soup last night and it is delicious! I added copious amounts of fresh ground black pepper and some crushed red chili flakes, and also allowed it to barely simmer for an hour on the stove top bringing all the flavors together. It was outstanding and a big hit with my dining companions!"

Clover seconds the choice to opt for fire-roasted tomatoes. "Yum! Made it for dinner last night. I second the motion on using the fire-roasted tomatoes. Instead of saffron, I tried the smoked paprika and the whole fire-roasted/smoky thing worked great."

R.A. Porter suggests, "swapping out some of the water with a nice dark beer and making a sumac yogurt."

More Lentil Soup Recipes

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Lively Up Yourself Lentil Soup

4.46 from 11 votes

I've found that French green lentils and black beluga lentils hold their shape nicely - they don't go to mush in the pot. I sometimes used fire-roasted organic crushed tomatoes, they lend a lovely deep smoky flavor to whatever you use them in. If you come across them, give them a try in this soup. If not, regular crushed tomatoes are just fine. Can't find greek yogurt, no problem - just use whole plain yogurt. Vegans can skip the yogurt entirely and finish the soup with a generous drizzle of good olive oil instead. And just a reminder, this makes a nice big pot of soup, so use a large pot - I eat the leftovers all week.

  • 2 cups black beluga lentils (or green French lentils), picked over and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fine-grain sea salt
  • 1 28- ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups water
  • 3 cups of a big leafy green (chard, kale, etc), rinsed well, deveined, finely chopped
Saffron Yogurt
  • a pinch of saffron (30-40 threads)
  • 1 tablespoon boiling water
  • two pinches of salt
  • 1/2 cup 2% Greek Yogurt
  1. Bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a large saucepan, add the lentils, and cook for about 20 minutes, or until tender. Drain and set aside.
  2. While the lentils are cooking, make the saffron yogurt by combining the saffron threads and boiling water in a tiny cup. Let the saffron steep for a few minutes. Now stir the saffron along with the liquid into the yogurt. Mix in the salt and set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a heavy soup pot over medium heat, then add the onion and salt and saute until tender, a couple minutes. Stir in the tomatoes, lentils, and water and continue cooking for a few more minutes, letting the soup come back up to a simmer. Stir in the chopped greens, and wait another minute. Taste and adjust the seasoning if need be. Ladle into bowls, and serve with a dollop of the saffron yogurt.

Serves 6 to 8.


- You can serve it with a poached egg on top,
- or crunchy, fried shallots,
- with a drizzle of chive infused cream,
- or with chunks of tiny pan-fried butternut squash cubes.
- Make a thicker version by using just a bit of water, and then spoon it over an omelette in the morning.
- Have some cooked farro or wheat berries around? Toss some in. Millet might be good too.
- You can finish the soup by adding your favorite spices or spice blends. Smoked paprika, crushed chiles, toasted cumin, would all work nicely.

Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
25 mins
Total Time
35 mins
If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

Post Your Comment

Recipe Rating


Last time I made a lentil soup I added a hot sauce after it was done. It gave it a little kick, but a ton of flavor


Hi Heidi, I have an annoying cold and I am longing for a good comforting bowl of soup - and this looks like the one! Out shopping for lentils.. Ya'ara


What perfect New Year's food! Those sweet French lentils, the wee green ones, are a pantry staple here for post-feteing blues (along with endive salads) and do have certain feel-good factor as well as being delicious. Thanks for the greens addition and the golden yogurt; even just once a week would be a step in the right direction.

Kate Hill

i'm expecting too and some foods really appeal and some repel... lentils REALLY appeal! and heidi, i appreciate any and all Bob Marley references!


what a sorprise! here in Mexico City my mother cooks lentils just your way. Sometimes she includes macho banana and some other times she uses bacon. happy new year to everyone!


This sounds perfect! I may add some smoked sausage though. And those fire roasted tomatoes are fantastic! I just discovered them a little while ago and have been using them in different recipes. I'm trying it out in chili today. :)


This sounds delicious! Think it would be doable to make this in a slow-cooker?



    Heidi Swanson

I can't even begin to comment on how absolutely perfect that picture of the lentil soup is. I have this weird feeling of love at first sight...yes, that's it... I LOVE that picture. Really, I had to remind myself to breathe and stop staring so I could get to the recipe. The bowl, the table, the spoon and that crazy saffron yogurt - so deliciously perfect. Thank you.


It is gluten free! Oh thank you for tagging things as such. It makes a huge, huge difference.


I made almost this exact lentil soup earlier this week--but added the paprika, spinach, chopped celery, carrots and bell peppers along with the onions, and a cut up chicken and broth (I used chicken but you could use organic vegetable broth) in place of water. I incorporated garlic, marjoram and a large bay leaf as well and cooked the mixture without the lentils/grain until about an hour prior to serving. I used red lentils and black barley in the soup, and served over brown rice the first day and Dreamfield noodles the next. I just froze the last of it. Hearty, delicious. Sausage sounds good with this too. I can't wait to make more in a week or two and the saffron yogurt topping is inspired. Thanks!

Jeri Sessler

As so many others have said, I love lentils...and this picture...yum, definitely making this over the weekend. I am running low on lentils but I do have a new package of mung beans. I bought these on a whim, thinking I had been hearing a lot about them and now I cannot find a stitch of information. I write this here because I am wondering if they can stand in for lentils? Thank you!


I love lentils, but never thought of adding Saffron (another favorite ingredient). This sounds amazing, I can't wait to try it!


I've never been one for lentils - probably because they simply never showed up on my dinner table as a kid - but I have been more and more interested in experimenting with them as of late.

Victoria E

As a former vegetarian, you can believe me when I tell you that lentils are awesome with a small amount of sausage. The nearest this recipe comes to sausages is when she suggests "smoked paprika" as a spice to add.

Hill Goldring

Heidi, I absolutely love, love, love lentils. I wish that I could get my husband to eat them. I was actually just looking for something different to do with lentils, so that I could come up with a good lunch to take to work next week. What I do is pretty similar to what you have here (minus the saffron), but the idea of adding some butternut squash "croutons" to the top sounds extremely appealing to me. I've been on a butternut squash kick for the past few weeks, so combining these two sounds amazing. In NY, we are at 8 degrees this morning. I wish that I wasn't at work so that I could make some of this for breakfast! And, yes, I would have lentils for breakfast if they looked this good! Thanks for the ideas.


I love lentil soup - just made a batch a few days ago - and this one sounds excellent! I love the idea of the greens, and the saffron yogurt, as well as the butternut croutons. I always add carrots to my lentil soup - and sometimes use some turmeric, but this time will try the saffron yogurt instead! Thanks for this recipe, it sounds perfect for this time of year!


Lentil soup has been a staple in most of my 74 yrs. of living - old Italian simple recipe dating back to my grandmother,mother and now me! Thank you for your recipe and a Happy New Year!!

Verna DeLauer (nee) D'Agostino

Down her in the southern hemisphere (Australia) it is not really soup weather at the moment, but I think I will definitely try this when the weather cools down a bit!


This sounds exactly like what I've been looking for! I'm 24 weeks pregnant and food I used to LOVE no longer appeals to me (very sad and I hope it passes). This soup actually looks/sounds appealing. Especially now, I appreciate the quest not only for good food but nutritious food as well. Thank you Heidi! Are you going to Fancy in San Diego next weekend? Best, Heather


In spanish we say "lentejas, si las quieres las tomas y si no las dejas", a nice rhyme. I like lentil soup a lot, with some banana slices floating on the tasty muddy liquid! Thanks for this recipe, Heidi, I'm looking forward to try it soon, as it's been really cold here in Mexico! I'm wearing gloves as I write this... Brrrr :-S


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