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."

There are a number of other lentil soups hiding in the archives. I love this Coconut Red Lentil Soup with next-level devotion, it's just a quite a bit more decadent than this version, so I rotate between them. This Green Lentil Soup with Curried Brown Butter is another long-time favorite. Or, check out this list with a mix of options - Nine Great Lentil Soups to Choose From.

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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


Very nice recipe. Another couple of variations would be swapping out some of the water with a nice dark beer and making a sumac yogurt. I too made some lentil soup the other day and now I want to go home and have a big bowl for lunch.

R.A. Porter

Oh this looks just lovely and so easy! Right up my alley. I will definitely try making it this weekend. Thank you for sharing.


I'll give this recipe a try & add kale. Make cornbread to go with:)


I am crazy about lentils too, and I love your idea of using saffron yogurt to top this soup.


Hi! This recipe is quite similar to what we cook in Spain (minus the yogurt, of course). Most spaniards eat lots of lentils in a weekly basis, though children tend not to like them! We also add some carrots, green pepper and garlic to the soup. But what you mustn't leave out for a really andalousian flavour is cumin (and chorizo, but I just found out you´re vegetarian...). By the way, congratulations on your website, I found out about it a few weeks ago, and I can't stop checking it in search of more good stuff!


This soup looks delicious - I also love lentils. I usually make my lentil soup with Indian spices - cumin seeds, coriander, garam masala, chili powder - which adds some welcome heat during the winter months. I'll have to try the fire-roasted tomatoes in my next batch, though!


Yup, that there is a 100% gluten-free recipe, providing people check the labels of the ingredients to make sure none of what they're buying was produced on equipment shared with wheat, barley, rye or oats. I always make sure to use real yogurt so I know there are no suspicious thickeners or flavorings in it (same with canned tomatoes) but generally speaking it's be pretty hard to sneak gluten into this recipe. It looks delicious!

Gluten-Free Bay

Never been a big fan of lentils, but that soup looks great. And the weather around here screams for a hot bowl of it. Thanks for sharing.


I made this soup and added bok choy as the was very delicious especially with the saffron yogurt. thanks for another great recipe.


That looks delicious! I think it's the saffron yogurt that's really pulling me in.


LOVE the addition of saffron yogurt. That gorgeous swirl of color is so lovely. Fantastic photograph. I also eat soup 3-4 times a week (especially this time of the year) and I'm now inspired to restock my lentil stash! Thanks for the inspiration and I will definitely try some variations of this recipe and I'll post them on my site when I do.

Asata, Life Chef

First time poster, long time ambivalence towards lentils...Perfect timing...I just picked up the Harder They Come dvd from the library. :-) This soup will be the perfect accompaniment. If I keep trying your recipes I will be a vegetarian before I realize it.


This looks fantastic! Can't wait to try it. Thanks Heidi!


Never met a lentil soup variation that I didn't love. The saffron yogurt sounds like a lovely topping; I'll try that on my next batch of soup. I love mixing lentils, too.


I also have a strange attraction concerning lentils. I usually make lentils with rice and tomato and I am irresistibly drawn to second and third helpings. It is really odd but it is really good also. Many thanks for the recipe, especially the saffron yoghurt part. It calls for experimentation =)


(from a longtime lurker) That sounds amazing... I love lentil soup, I love French green lentils, and I love chard and yogurt! This soup seems to have it all, and the idea of topping it off with cubes of butternut squash and fried shallots is really putting it over the top. Thank you for some wonderful inspiration - I'd eat this 3+ times a week too! (Maybe I will).

Celia Curtis

I just wanted to say that this soup not only looks but also tastes amazing!! In these heavy rains we have here plus me being sick, this rich soup is the answer.. I have added 2 tablespoons of red dry wine and crushed chili -and it turned out beautifully.. Thank you Heidi!


Wow! This lentil soup looks completely fantastic... In fact, I actually have some lentils sitting around my kitchen, just waiting to be used - this looks like the perfect recipe to make that happen. I can't wait to try this - thanks!


I love lentils and combining them with saffron sounds amazing. I can't wait to make the soup this weekend! Just what we need for cold weather. The little French green lentils are called lentilles vertes de Puy and were the first vegetable to receive the A.O.C. (appellation d'origine contrôlée).


like many who've already posted, I'm a lentil enthusiast, too. unfortunately, I've never found a lentil soup that's exactly to my liking. oh sure, I've made some soups that I've liked fine (especially after some tinkering). but this one ... well, let's just say I have high hopes. looks delish!


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