This hearty and warming Mediterranean Lentil Soup is easy to make and delicious to eat! Full of tasty lentils, lots of vegetables and perfectly cooked pasta, this soup is guaranteed to become a family favorite!!
Why you will love this recipe!
Mediterranean Lentil Soup is one of those dishes that combines good nutrition and amazing flavor so you can rest assured that you're providing your family the best. Even the fussiest eaters will enjoy this soup!
The Mediterranean diet is based on what the people of the Mediterranean eat daily and that includes Italy. Abundant use of olive oil, legumes and vegetables is common in the home-cooked dishes of this area and has been shown to increase life expectancy. This Italian lentil soup is a perfect example of typical dishes of the Mediterranean diet.
Legumes like lentils are high in protein, full of fiber and antioxidants and should be added to your weekly menu. When it tastes as good as this Mediterranean Lentil Soup, it won’t be difficult.
Because the lentils need no soaking, this is excellent to prepare during the week when you’ve arrived home late and need something flavorsome and healthy. Lentils store well in the pantry and the vegetables can be adjusted to what you have in the fridge so this recipe can be adapted to your taste.
Soups like this Mediterranean Lentil Soup and my tasty chicken and vegetable soup are exactly what's needed on cool, winter evenings. But my family love this soup during warmer weather as well. It's just so tasty!!
For complete ingredient quantities and full instructions, please scroll to the printable recipe card bottom of the page.
Table of Contents
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil - I prefer extra virgin olive oil but use regular or light olive oil if that's what you have and enjoy.
- Onion - Brown, yellow or white onion all work in this Mediterranean Lentil Soup. This is the first ingredient in the holy trinity of the Italian soffritto.
- Carrot - Use a large carrot or a couple of smaller ones. Carrots add color, taste and nutrition to this soup. Finely diced carrot is the second ingredient in the holy trinity of the Italian soffritto.
- Celery Stick - One celery stick or a couple of halves like I do, lend a delicious aromatic flavor to so many recipes. Celery is the final ingredient of soffritto.
- Garlic Cloves - Fresh garlic is best but otherwise use bottled, minced garlic or ½ teaspoon garlic powder.
- Tomato paste - Use concentrated tomato paste that comes in tubes or resealable jars.
- Brown or Green Lentils - Lentils are available at most supermarkets and keep well in the pantry so I always like to keep a pack or two. The beauty about lentils is that unlike dried beans, lentils don’t need to be soaked. Fresh lentils will cook more quickly than older lentils. All you need to do is wash the lentils well in running water.
- Bay Leaves - I use fresh bay leaves because I have a tree but dried is perfectly fine.
- Chicken Stock - Ready-to-use chicken stock is perfectly fine for this recipe. At a pinch you could also use chicken bouillon or powder mixed with water.
- Ground Black Pepper - Freshly ground always has the best fragrance. However, use what you have.
- Salt - I use coarse pure cooking salt. Use what you prefer but taste to check the seasoning.
This Mediterranean Lentil Soup is adaptable to your taste. I always recommend making the recipe as written and then adjust it to suit yourself. Here are a few ideas.
- You can add different vegetables like zucchini, potato or chopped spinach leaves to suit your tastes.
- Use a lentil mix if you prefer
- Or spices like red pepper flakes, cayenne pepper or cumin.
- Add fresh herbs at the end like parsley or mint.
- Finish with a splash of lemon juice or red wine vinegar
- Make this a vegan lentil soup by substituting vegetable broth or stock for the chicken stock.
Wash the lentils well under running water. Set aside until needed. Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery and mince the garlic.
- Saute the onion, carrot and celery in extra virgin olive oil until softened.
- Add the minced garlic and tomato paste and cook for a few seconds.
- Stir in remaining ingredients except for the pasta. Simmer the soup for 45 minutes skimming off the foam that rises to the surface.
- Add the pasta and simmer until the pasta is tender and the soup has thickened slightly.
Serve hot with Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.
Tips for Success and FAQ’s
When cooking with lentils, dried beans or peas, it’s very important to wash the legumes well. To do this measure the amount you need into a sieve with fine mesh. Rinse under running cool water to remove any dirt or dust. Allow to drain well before adding to the recipe.
Soffritto ingredients must be chopped finely and sauteed until softened. Italian soffritto is the combination of finely chopped onion, carrot and celery which begins many Italian recipes. This adds a delicious depth of flavor to Italian soups, stews and other recipes.
Skim the foam off as the soup just begins to boil. The foam is a natural part that is released from lentils as they begin to cook and boil. I like to skim it away because it doesn’t look very pleasant and you can’t see what’s going on beneath. Some people say that skimming away the foam makes lentils and beans less likely to cause flatulence.
The cooking time can vary. If the lentils are very fresh, they will cook more quickly. Older lentil will take a bit longer to become tender.
Yes! Lentils are a source of protein, have lots of fiber and are low in fat. Combining the goodness of lentils with all the veggies in this recipe means that this Mediterranean Lentil Soup is very good for you.
Before the pasta is added this soup may appear thin. This extra liquid is needed to cook the pasta. Once the pasta is done, the soup will be thicker.
However if it is still too thin, combine a tablespoon or two of cornstarch or flour with a few tablespoons of water to create a slurry. Add this a little at a time to the simmering soup, until it is as thick as you like.
Store this Mediterranean Lentil Soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat gently in a saucepan on the stove, adding more stock or water if it’s too thick. This soup can also be reheated in the microwave in a microwave safe bowl. The pasta will have swelled and absorbed liquid so it will be more like a stew than a soup - we actually like it this way too!
398 calories per serve in this lentil soup.
You will find all the nutritional information in the recipe card below under the label “Nutrition”.
What is a good side for lentil soup?
We love to have a side of Ciabatta Garlic Bread with our Mediterranean Lentil Soup but Ligurian Focaccia is also really good! To complement this protein heavy soup, light vegetable dishes like Instant Pot Cauliflower or Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Carrots are ideal.
This Mediterranean Lentil Soup makes a great appetizer when served with my delicious butterfly chicken recipe, they go together so well.
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Mediterranean Lentil Soup Recipe
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot
- 1 celery stick
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- 1 ¼ cup brown or green lentils
- 2 bay leaves
- 8 cups chicken stock
- ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup dried ditalini pasta or other small pasta suitable for soup
- Wash the lentils well under running water. Set aside until needed.
- Finely chop the onion, carrot and celery and mince the garlic.
- Heat the extra virgin olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat.
- Add onion, carrot and celery and cook the finely chopped vegetables for approximately 5 minutes or until softened. Stir regularly and adjust the heat if the vegetables are browning. This is known as the “soffritto”.
- Add the minced garlic and tomato paste and cook for 30 seconds, stirring the whole time.
- Add all the remaining ingredients except for the pasta.
- Bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer.
- For the first 10-15 minutes foam may come to the surface. Use a large spoon to carefully remove the foam and discard.
- Continue to simmer gently for another 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Partially cover the pot with a lid - this will keep enough heat in but also allow for some evaporation.
- Lift the lid, add the pasta, stir and simmer uncovered for 9 minutes or until the pasta is tender and the soup has thickened slightly. Adjust the heat to ensure a gentle simmer.
- Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary. If the soup tastes bland, there's not enough salt. Add a little sprinkle, stir well, simmer for a minute or so then taste again.
- Serve hot with finely grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese.
- Wash the lentils well under cool running water then drain before using.
- Italian soffritto is the combination of finely chopped onion, carrot and celery sautéed until softened. Adds depth of flavor to so many dishes.
- Skim the foam off as the soup just begins to boil.
- The cooking time can vary. If the lentils are very fresh, they will cook more quickly. Older lentil will take a bit longer to become tender.
Nutritional Information Per Serving
Nutritional information is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. For accurate results, it is recommended that the nutritional information be calculated based on the ingredients and brands you use.