Easy Lentil Soup with Kale and Bacon

Lentil Soup is one of our go-to’s around here, and this is the recipe we always come back to again and again. Click here to jump to the recipe, or read on and get the recipe at the bottom of this post.

Easy Lentil Soup with Bacon

Have you ever heard of a soup party? Don’t worry if you haven’t, because I hadn’t either… until last weekend when some friends of ours hosted one. How it works: everyone brings a big pot of homemade soup, and we all get to try a little of everything. Kind of brilliant, right? The soup lover in me could not have been happier!

This lentil soup was The Husband and I’s contribution. It’s one of our favorites, and although lentil soup is incredibly easy to make, we were pretty sure it wasn’t something everyone else would be bringing. We were right. Is there a stigma about lentils that I don’t know about? It seems like people always turn their nose up at them, until they try a bite of this soup… then their eyes light up with surprise when whatever it was they were expecting turns out to be totally delicious.

I guess that’s just the power of homemade soup.

Easy Lentil Soup with Bacon

While we were there, we got to try nearly a dozen other soups, including jambalaya, chicken tortilla, meatball tortellini, seafood chowder, broccoli cheese, a whole slew of chilis, ham and bean… the list goes on. The hardest part was not getting too full before we’d had a chance to taste them all!

Needless to say, I came out of there with a seriously full belly, and soooo many soup ideas to play with down the road. In the meantime, though, this lentil soup still holds its place as one of my all time favorites. The warm spices and veggies make for a really hearty and filling meal, and just a little bit of bacon lends a huge boost of flavor. If you’ve ever been skeptical of lentils, give these a try and they might just change your mind.

I’d love to know… what would you bring to a soup party? Tell me your favorite soup in the comments below!


4.7 from 3 reviews
Easy Lentil Soup with Kale and Bacon
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
gluten-free (see recipe notes for vegetarian / vegan option)
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • 4-5 slices bacon -- optional, see recipe notes*
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 large carrots, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¾ tsp. cumin powder
  • ¾ tsp. ground coriander
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper
  • 1 lb. brown lentils, rinsed and sorted
  • 1 14.5 oz. can crushed tomatoes (or you use fresh tomatoes, if they're in season)
  • 2 quarts low sodium chicken or vegetable stock
  • 1 bunch kale, stems removed and chopped (about 3-4 cups)
  • 1 big handful fresh parsley, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • Salt, to taste
  1. In a large soup pot or dutch oven, cook the bacon until crispy. Remove to a paper towel, and set aside. Leave the bacon grease in the pan for sauteing the veggies. (If you want to make the soup vegetarian / vegan, see recipe notes below.)
  2. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the pan, along with a big pinch of salt, and saute for 6-8 minutes. If the vegetables start to brown too much, turn the heat down. Add the garlic, cumin, coriander, and turmeric, and cook for another 2-3 minutes to toast the spices.
  3. Add the bell pepper, lentils, tomatoes, chicken or vegetable stock, and another big pinch of salt. Increase the heat and bring to a boil, then cover, reduce to low, and simmer for 35-40 minutes or until the lentils are tender, but not mushy.
  4. Optional: you can leave the soup like this, or, for a thicker consistency, puree some of it by transferring a few ladle fulls to a blender, then returning to the pot, or using an immersion blender. You can puree as much or as little of the soup as you'd like, to reach the desired consistency. (I like to use an immersion blender, pulsing for just a minute or so, for a thickened but not smooth consistency.)
  5. Chop the kale, parsley, and reserved bacon, and stir them into the pot. Season with salt, to taste. Serve immediately, or let cool and store in the fridge for up to a week, or in the freezer for up to a couple of months. Soup is even better the next day, once the flavors have had a chance to mingle. Enjoy!
*The Husband and I love using a little bacon in our lentil soup for some added smokiness and depth of flavor, but if you want to make this soup vegetarian/vegan, you can certainly leave it out. Instead, use 4 TBSP olive oil to saute your veggies, and of course swap the chicken stock with vegetable broth.

Recipe adapted from Alton Brown -- check it out Lentil Soup here.


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16 Responses to Easy Lentil Soup with Kale and Bacon

  1. Megan March 3, 2016 at 10:59 am #

    I’ve been seeing more and more post with lentils lately (possibly because its the International Year of Pulses?) but I’m hoping all the amazing recipes and photos will help with that stigma (I’ve definitely noticed it). This looks deliciously smokey!

    • Willow Arlen March 3, 2016 at 12:51 pm #

      Thanks, Megan! I hope it does do something to dispel the stigma, because lentils are amazing. Yummy, healthy, and inexpensive… what’s there to complain about, haha!

  2. Christine | Vermilion Roots March 3, 2016 at 2:00 pm #

    I would bring herbal soup to a soup party! I do like lentils in soup because they are satisfying and I usually have soup for a one-bowl meal. Lentil soup also freezes well, which makes it a great make-ahead one-pot meal. One of my favorite ways of eating lentils is Indian dhal with roti.

    • Willow Arlen March 4, 2016 at 8:41 am #

      If I were hosting a soup party, you would be first on my list of people to invite, Christine! I’ve never had herbal soup before, so now I’m intrigued. :)

  3. Dana March 5, 2016 at 11:56 am #

    Hi Willow,
    Your recipe calls for 1 1/4 oz can of crushed tomatoes. Do you mean a 15 1/2 oz. can of tomatoes?

    • Willow Arlen March 5, 2016 at 12:43 pm #

      Oops! What a weird typo, I don’t know what I was thinking when I wrote that. It should say “1 14.5 oz. can” — I’ve gone in and updated the recipe so it’s correct now. 14.5 oz are a standard size where I am, but if you have 15 oz cans go ahead and use one of those, it doesn’t have to be exact. Thank you for catching that mistake!

  4. Adina March 7, 2016 at 10:10 am #

    I love a good lentil soup and this version sounds delicious, similar to mine but using different spices. I’d love to try it!

    • Willow Arlen March 7, 2016 at 11:20 am #

      Thanks Adina! I’d love to know what you think if you try it. I love using cumin and coriander in my lentils, they add such a nice subtle flavor!

  5. Fred K August 19, 2016 at 9:42 am #

    I made this for my wife last and she LOVED it. I added one ingredient, one big pinch of dried crushed red pepper. This is a satisfying comfort food. We will be making this again and again.

    • Willow Arlen August 19, 2016 at 10:15 am #

      Oh, I’m so glad you and your wife enjoyed this recipe! Thanks for sharing, Fred, this comment made my day! :)

  6. Sam November 5, 2016 at 2:46 pm #

    I really enjoyed this recipe, although I found that it made A LOT of soup. Also, the only change that I made was the addition of balsamic vinegar. About halfway through cooking, I tasted the soup and thought it was missing salt — no that’s not it… maybe spice? No… it’s not that… the soup was missing a bit of acid, I would imagine that this would completely depend upon the acidity of the tomatoes you use, too.

    Drizzle a lil’ balsamic over the top when you’re ready to serve, too! I really like vinegar with lentils… can you tell?
    Serve with crusty bread…. daaaaaang.

    • Willow Arlen November 7, 2016 at 1:21 pm #

      Thank, Sam! It does make a lot of soup, but I’ve always found that when I make a half batch it goes too quickly. If you find you have too much extra to handle, it does freeze really well! A splash of vinegar is a great idea, too, I’ll have to try that next time. Glad you liked the recipe!

  7. FrauFanki November 15, 2016 at 6:11 am #

    And it isn’t necessary to soak the lentils? That would be great because when I crave for lentils, it’s always too late to soak them and wait for the next day…

    • Willow Arlen November 20, 2016 at 1:12 pm #

      Correct, no lentil soaking! You’ll want to rinse them first and make sure there aren’t any stones, but then they’re ready to be added to the pot. :)

  8. Lindsey June 23, 2017 at 12:39 am #

    How do you think this would do in a crockpot? I always prefer soups that way. Thank you!

    • Willow Arlen July 17, 2017 at 11:33 am #

      Hi Lindsey, sorry for the late reply! You can definitely try this in the crock pot. I just suggest cooking the bacon (if using) in a pan first, then adding it to the crockpot with the other ingredients.

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