This lentil potato soup is the ultimate cozy comfort food! Lentils and chunks of potato are seasoned with cumin and smoked paprika and cooked low and slow until nice and tender. This is a great pantry dinner recipe that you can make in only 1 hour!
Lentils are a great thing to keep in your cabinet for when you are totally out of dinner ideas, fresh groceries, or both! With only a bag of dried lentils and a handful of other (mostly pantry) ingredients, you can make this comforting and hearty soup in only about 1 hour.
This lentil potato soup can also easily be made vegan, just by using vegetable broth as the base. You can also customize this soup in a million different ways by adding additional veggies or spices.
If you need a hearty and filling dinner, this lentil potato soup is exactly what you need. Just grab a loaf of crusty bread and you've got dinner taken care of! Or, how about with a thick slice of my zucchini cheese bread - divine!
- Lentils: I used brown lentils; these are the most common kind you will find in the grocery store (at least here in the US). Sometimes you may see them labeled as simply "lentils" on the bag.
- Broth/stock: store-bought or homemade will work fine. You can use any type you prefer. For a vegan soup, use vegetable broth/stock.
- Smoked paprika: if you don't have smoked paprika, you can substitute regular paprika.
- Potatoes: I used yellow potatoes here, but any waxy type or all-purpose potato will work well. I talk more about potatoes in the Recipe FAQs section below!
Step by step photos
1. The first step is to sort through the dried lentils - you're just looking to remove any little pebbles or other debris that could be in there.
I like to do this by spreading a handful of lentils out on my hand, checking for anything that needs to be removed, and then placing the clean handful of lentils into a second bowl. Continue to work in batches until all the lentils have been picked through.
Once the lentils have been sorted, rinse them well and drain them. Set the cleaned lentils aside for now.
2. Next, wash and dry the potatoes. Cut them into about 1 inch chunks. Make sure not to cut the potatoes much smaller than this. Otherwise, they may break apart in the soup before the lentils are done cooking.
Since I'm using thin-skinned potatoes, peeling is optional! I like to keep the skins on because it saves time on prep.
3. Now, go ahead and chop the onions. You don't have to be super precise here, just break them down into smallish chunks.
4. Grab a large soup pot or Dutch oven and add the oil inside. Heat the oil over medium-high heat. When the oil is hot, add in the chopped onion.
5. Cook the onion for about 4 - 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and just starting to brown. Stir the onion frequently during cooking.
6. When the onion is translucent, add the kosher salt, cumin, smoked paprika, and black pepper. Stir the spices together with the onion and cook for about 30 seconds, until the spices are fragrant.
If needed, make sure to turn the heat down to prevent the spices from burning.
7. Now, add in the tomato paste. Stir it around with the spices and onion to incorporate the paste. This should take about 30 seconds. Again, if needed you can reduce the heat.
8. Next, add in the potatoes, lentils, the entire can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), and 6 cups of the broth/stock. Stir everything together. And, add the bay leaf too!
9. Now just turn the heat up to bring the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to maintain a simmer.
10. Let the soup simmer for about 30 - 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. If too much liquid is evaporating during cooking, go ahead and add more broth or stock as needed.
When stirring the soup, be sure to press down any chunks of potatoes that have popped up back down into the cooking liquid.
11. When you think the potatoes and lentils are tender, you can test one of the potatoes by piercing it with a fork. The fork should sink in without much resistance.
You can also taste the lentils to make sure they are nice and soft (just be careful not to burn your mouth!).
12. Finally, squeeze in the lemon juice (or, you can use red wine vinegar instead if you don't have lemon). Stir the soup and give it a taste again.
At this point, you can add more lemon (or vinegar), salt, and/or pepper if you think the soup needs it.
Tips and tricks
- Low and slow is the way to go here! Cook the soup at a simmer, rather than a boil, and you will have lentils that are soft and tender, rather than grainy. And, the potatoes will hold their shape better instead of breaking apart.
- A simmer looks like small even bubbles across the surface, with wisps of steam. Compare that to a boil, which will have large bubbles breaking and lots of steam. Here is a great article discussing the difference between a simmer versus a boil if you need a visual guide.
- If the soup is absorbing too much liquid during cooking, feel free to add in additional broth or stock as needed.
- I only used onion in this soup in an effort to keep the ingredients list manageable. But, if you have chopped celery and/or carrot, feel free to add those at the same time as the onion for even more flavor!
- You can easily customize this soup by switching up the spices or adding in additional spices that you enjoy. Here are a few ideas: dried thyme, dried rosemary, crushed red pepper flakes (if you like spice!), or coriander.
As I mentioned in the Ingredient notes section above, I use brown lentils to make this lentil and potato soup. Brown lentils are the "typical" dried lentil you will find in most American grocery stores. Brown lentils work well in soups because they hold their shape somewhat (meaning, they don't totally break down into mush), yet still become soft and tender in the soup.
If you like, you can also use green lentils; they have a very similar texture and cook time as brown lentils. For more info, check out this breakdown of the main categories of lentils and their ideal uses.
There are two main types of potatoes - waxy and floury. Waxy are thin-skinned and hold their shape well after cooking, and floury potatoes have a thicker skin and get nice and fluffy inside after cooking (think your classic russet baked potato!).
Because their flesh stays more intact after cooking, waxy potatoes work well in soups like this where the chunks are meant to be separate (as opposed to a blended soup for example). And, because they have thin skins, there is no need to peel them before adding them to the soup, saving you a lot of prep time!
Examples of waxy potatoes include red potatoes, new potatoes, and fingerling potatoes. Here is a great article that talks more about waxy potatoes.
In addition to waxy potatoes, you can also use yellow potatoes here (similar types may be labeled as Yukon gold or gold potatoes). Yellow potatoes are in between waxy and floury, making this a great all-purpose potato!
Here are some flavorful garnish ideas for this lentil potato soup: a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream (this is obviously not vegan, so if you want to keep the soup vegan of course skip this one!); cilantro or parsley leaves, a sprinkle of red pepper flakes, a sprinkle of cracked black pepper, and/or a wedge of lemon.
To serve alongside the soup, try a loaf of crusty bread, crackers, or breadsticks for dipping. You can also serve it with a green side salad or a side of steamed or sautéed veggies. Or, for more protein, you can enjoy a cup of the soup paired with a serving of grilled fish or chicken breast.
You can store leftovers in the fridge, in a tightly sealed container, for 3 - 4 days.
If you want to keep the soup for longer than 3 - 4 days, you can store it in the freezer. But, be aware that the texture of the potatoes will break down some after a stay in the freezer.
If you don't mind that, then go ahead and freeze the soup in airtight sealed food storage containers, leaving enough room at the top for the liquid to expand as it freezes. The soup will keep in the freezer for 2 - 3 months.
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This hearty lentil and potato soup is easy to make and ready in only about 1 hour! The soup is seasoned with cumin, smoked paprika, and lemon.
- 1 ½ cups (295 g) dried brown or green lentils (picked through, rinsed, and drained)
- 20 ounces (567 g) potatoes; about 4 cups when cut into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes (see note 1)
- 2 cups (227 g) chopped onion (from about 2 medium onions)
- 3 tablespoons oil
- 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
- 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste
- ½ teaspoon black pepper, or to taste
- 3 tablespoons tomato paste
- 6 - 8 cups broth or stock (any type; for vegan soup use vegetable broth)
- one 14.5 ounce (411 g) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 - 2 tablespoons lemon juice (or red wine vinegar)
- Pick through the lentils to remove any small pebbles or debris. Rinse and drain the lentils, set aside.
- Scrub the potatoes and cut them into 1 inch (2.5 cm) cubes. Peeling the potatoes is optional if using a recommended waxy (or all-purpose) thin-skinned potato variety.
- Chop the onion.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and cook, stirring frequently, for 4 - 5 minutes, or until the onion is translucent and just beginning to brown.
- Add the cumin, smoked paprika, kosher salt, and black pepper. Stir and cook for about 30 seconds, or until the spices are fragrant. If needed, turn the heat down to avoid burning the spices.
- Add in the tomato paste. Stir and cook for another 30 seconds, or until the tomato paste has softened and mixed in thoroughly with the onion and spices. Again, if needed, turn the heat down to avoid burning the spices and tomato paste.
- Add the lentils, cubed potatoes, 6 cups broth or stock, entire can of diced tomatoes (do not drain), and bay leaf. Stir to combine. Turn the heat up to bring the soup to a boil, then reduce the heat to maintain a simmer. Simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the lentils and potatoes are tender. If the liquid in the soup is evaporating too quickly during cooking, add more broth or stock as needed.
- When the potatoes and lentils are tender, turn off the burner. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. (Alternatively, you can use red wine vinegar). Taste the soup and if needed, add more salt, black pepper, and/or lemon juice (or vinegar) to taste.
While you can use any type of potato in this soup, waxy potato varieties will work best because they hold their shape well after boiling. Waxy potatoes are also thin-skinned, meaning you don't have to peel them before adding to the soup (unless you prefer to). Some examples of waxy potatoes include red potatoes, new potatoes, and fingerlings. Yellow potatoes also work well, although they are considered an "all-purpose" type of potato (in-between waxy and floury).
Kosher salt is coarse grained; if you want to substitute fine grain salt, start with only ¾ teaspoon, taste the finished soup, and add more if desired.
When stirring the soup while the potatoes and lentils are cooking, be sure to use your wooden spoon to press down any potato cubes that may have risen to the surface to ensure all the potatoes cook in the liquid.
If you would like to garnish the soup before serving, here are some ideas: cilantro leaves, plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, cracked black pepper, red chili flakes, lemon wedges.
The nutrition information below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator; the nutrition counts of your dish will vary based on the brand and exact amounts of ingredients used. This nutrition estimate should not be considered a substitute for professional medical, health, or nutritional advice. See our full nutrition disclosure policy.
- Serving Size: ⅙ recipe
- Calories: 334
- Sugar: 8.1 g
- Sodium: 790 mg
- Fat: 8.7 g
- Saturated Fat: 1 g
- Carbohydrates: 48.1 g
- Fiber: 8.8 g
- Protein: 16 g
- Cholesterol: 0 mg
Keywords: lentil potato soup, lentil soup