Lentil Soup with Tomatoes and Fennel

This lentil soup is hearty, healthy and delicious. It takes just under an hour and makes a great lunch or dinner.

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Looking down into a stockpot with lentil soup inside.

Is Lentil Soup Good for You?

You bet! Lentil Soup is a super nutritious meal, but more than that, it’s super delicious too. Lentils are pulses that are high in protein and fiber and are super filling, keeping you satiated for a long time. In addition to lentils, this lentil soup is full of vegetables including a leafy green adding to it’s nutritious (and delicious) value.

A leek being cut on a cutting board with other vegetables in various forms of prep around.

Cutting Leek and Fennel

This lentil soup has two vegetables in it that are a little less common than most soup ingredients. Instead of starting with onion, it starts with a leek, which has a more delicate but beautiful flavor. If you haven’t cut a leek before, it’s worthwhile taking a quick read of this article on how to cut a leek so you know what you’re doing. It’s really very simple, but it is different from an onion. Fennel, the other less than common veg in this soup is more similar to cutting an onion, but it’s still worthwhile learning how to do it the right way, which you can do on this cooking school article here on how to cut fennel

A hand holding a bowl of Puy lentils above a stockpot.

What Lentils to Use for Lentil Soup

There are a few different types of lentils out there. I describe these varieties in the cooking school article on how to cook lentils, but the good news is that you can use any brown or green lentil for this soup. Brown and green lentils will break down more in the pot and thicken the soup. Puy lentils keep their shape when cooked and give the soup a different texture. Because I love Puy lentils the best, I like them in this soup, but green or brown lentils are great too. 

Four images of the stages of making lentil soup, adding kale and stirring it in.

How to Make Lentil Soup from Scratch

Making this lentil soup is very easy. You start by cooking your vegetables with herbs and spices. Then add the lentils, canned tomatoes and stock and let the soup simmer for about 30 minutes, or until your lentils are done to your liking. Then, stir in the kale (or spinach if you prefer) and let it wilt before adding the secret ingredient…

Two images: the first of hands zesting an orange; the second of hands juicing half an orange with a reamer.

Secret Ingredient for Lentil Soup

Orange zest and juice. THOSE are the secret ingredients in this soup. The zest (just the peel, not the pith) of the orange, along with the fresh orange juice really brighten this earthy lentil soup and give it an interesting flavor. It keeps you coming back for another ladle. Use a good zester and juicer to make the task of zesting and juicing easy. Where can I find those, you ask? Well… here

Ladling lentil soup into white bowls with a stockpot in the background.

How to Store Lentil Soup

You can store lentil soup in the refrigerator for 5-7 days, or freeze it in containers for a rainy day, storing for 3-6 months. I speak from experience when I say that it is so nice to be able to pull a container of lentil soup out of the freezer and have a hearty and nutritious meal in minutes. 

A hand garnishing a bowl of lentil soup with orange zest.

How to Serve Lentil Soup

Serve this lentil soup in bowls with some extra orange zest on top. Add a slice of crusty bread or a side green salad and you’re all set. It’s a perfect lunch or dinner. 

Two bowls of lentil soup on a wooden table with blue and white striped napkins and spoons. A stainless steel stockpot in the background.

Featured Recipe Techniques

More about the skills used in this recipe.

Cooking School
How to Cut Fennel

Fennel is a vegetable that often baffles the home cook. It has a bulb at the bottom, several stalks protruding...View Technique

How to Cut a Leek

Leeks are the most mysterious member of the allium or onion family. Their flavor, however is so lovely that it's...View Technique

How to Cook Lentils

They are delicious, nutritious, inexpensive, satisfying AND easy to cook. There are so many reasons to learn how to cook...View Technique

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Lentil Soup with Tomatoes and Fennel

  • Prep Time: 15 m
  • Cook Time: 45 m
  • Total Time: 1 h
  • Servings:


  • 2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large or 2 small leeks halved and sliced (about 3 cups)
  • 2 ribs celery sliced
  • 2 carrots chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic smashed
  • 1 bulb fennel diced (about 2 cups)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme
  • Pinch crushed chili flakes
  • 1 cup Puy or brown lentils
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 4 cups vegetable stock
  • 2 cups chopped kale about 3 stalks
  • ¼ cup orange juice about ½ orange
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon orange zest


  1. Pre-heat a large stockpot over medium heat.
  2. Add olive oil and sauté the leek, celery, carrot, fennel and garlic. Season with salt and cook until all the vegetables are softening, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the cumin, thyme and crushed chili flakes and continue to cook for another 3 minutes.
  4. Stir in the lentils and cook for about a minute.
  5. Add the canned tomatoes and vegetable stock, bring to a boil, and then reduce to a simmer. Place a lid askew on the pot and cook for about 30 minutes.
  6. Once the lentils are tender, stir in the chopped kale and simmer for 5 more minutes.
  7. Add the orange juice and season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve with a little orange zest sprinkled on top.
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Comments (4)Post a Reply

  1. 5 stars
    Every Fall and Winter I make many many different soup recipes and this recipe has turned out to be my Husband’s favorite of all!! It’s easy, hearty and healthy delicious!

  2. Another vote of confidence for this tasty, healthy [and easy] soup. I’ll be having some in about an hour. Can’t wait.

  3. This is THE BEST soup I have ever had. Super flavorful, hearty, and is even better the next day. Since carrots and I do not get along, I substituted sweet potatoes. I also tried 1 tsp of cumin and 1 tsp of coriander. So yummy! Add BJC naan and the sauce from BJC Braised Chickpeas recipe and you have the most delicious meal.

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