Lentil turkey soup is easy to make with basic (mostly pantry!) ingredients, in under 1 hour. It also freezes and reheats well, making this a great meal prep option for busy weeknights.
I don't know about you, but I always seem to have at least one package of ground turkey hanging out in my freezer. So when I don't know what to cook for dinner, I dig it out and make this easy turkey lentil soup recipe!
Besides the ground turkey, you only need a few other basic, easy-to-find ingredients to make turkey lentil soup. You probably already have most of these in your pantry and fridge, including dried lentils, onion, carrots, store-bought broth, and canned tomatoes.
This recipe is not only easy to pull together with on-hand ingredients, it's also full of flavor from garlic, cumin, and coriander. And special bonus - this soup freezes and reheats very well, so you can make dinner even easier for yourself by making a double batch to save for a rainy (or very tired and busy) day!
- Lentils: I used brown lentils, which are the most common kind you will find in the grocery store (at least in the US). Sometimes you will see them labeled as simply "lentils" on the bag. Green lentils will also work!
- Onion: yellow onion is my go-to for soup recipes, but if you don't have a yellow onion, you can use a sweet or white onion instead.
- Diced tomatoes: I prefer using petite diced tomatoes - I think the smaller pieces blend into the soup more. But this is personal preference, any kind is fine.
- Broth or stock: also feel free to use any kind you like here, either store-bought or homemade. I used chicken broth, but vegetable or beef broth would also work great.
Step by step photos
1. The first step to make lentil turkey soup is to pick through and rinse the lentils. I talk more about how I like to sort and clean the lentils in my post for lentil potato soup.
2. Next, prep the veggies. Peel the carrots, then slice them into rounds about ⅓ inch (8.5 mm) thick.
3. Then, slice the celery ribs the same thickness as the carrots. Finely chop the garlic, and chop the onion. Set the veggies aside for now.
4. Now grab a large soup pot or Dutch oven, and set it over medium high heat. Add the oil to the pot. When the oil is hot, swirl the oil around to coat the bottom of the pot.
Place the ground turkey into the pot, and let it cook for about 3 - 4 minutes, or until the turkey is browned. While it's cooking, use the spoon to break the turkey up into chunks.
5. Next, add the celery, onion, carrot and garlic. Also add in the spices and salt. Continue to cook for 3 - 4 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is softened and translucent.
6. Now add in the rinsed lentils, the whole can of tomatoes (do not drain first), and six cups of the broth. Stir the soup ingredients together and turn the heat up to high to bring the liquid to a boil. Then, turn the heat down to maintain a simmer.
7. Let the soup simmer for 30 - 35 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the lentils and veggies are tender. If too much liquid is evaporating during the cook time, or if you want the lentil turkey soup to have a thinner texture, you can add in more broth (or water) as needed.
That's the breakdown on how to make lentil turkey soup; for the full instructions and ingredient amounts, please see the recipe card at the bottom of this post!
Soup recipes are great because they are so flexible, you can swap out or add ingredients as needed. Here are some ideas for additions and substitutions:
- Leftover cooked turkey (or chicken) can be used instead of the fresh ground turkey. Skip browning the meat first, and go straight to sautéing the veggies in oil. Then, add in bite-size pieces of the leftover meat into the soup during the last 5 minutes of cooking.
- Don't have any ground turkey on hand? Try lean ground chicken, beef, or pork instead. Bulk ground sausage would also be delicious!
- If you are missing one of the veggies (carrot, onion and celery), you can double up on the other veggies (for example, use an extra onion in place of the celery).
- If you don't like or don't have either the cumin or coriander called for, feel free to experiment with other seasonings. Smoked or regular paprika, dried rosemary, dried thyme, dried oregano, and/or bay leaf would all be great additions.
- If you are watching your sodium intake, you can either leave out the salt in the recipe, or use reduced sodium broth and canned tomatoes (or do both!).
Here are some suggestions for how to serve this lentil turkey soup:
- To garnish the soup, try chopped fresh herbs (I like basil!), crushed red pepper flakes (if you like spice), freshly-ground black pepper, or grated Parmesan.
- This lentil turkey soup tastes great as a main course, served alongside a green salad or roasted veggies, and a loaf of crusty bread for dipping.
- You can also serve this soup as a side, paired with a sandwich or wrap. (Try it with my recipe for Greek yogurt tuna salad!)
- For something a little different, split a baked sweet potato in half and use this soup as a topping, with some shredded cheese or sour cream as a garnish.
Storage and reheating
- This lentil turkey soup can be stored in the fridge for up to 3 - 4 days, kept in an airtight container.
- For longer-term storage, the soup can be frozen in an airtight container for 2 - 3 months. Just make sure to leave enough head room in the container you are using, to allow the liquid to expand as it freezes.
- To reheat the soup, place it in a small saucepan over low heat. Stir occasionally and cook until heated through. If needed, you can add more water or broth to thin out the soup.
- To reheat from the freezer, allow the soup to thaw in the fridge overnight, then follow the above reheating instructions.
Tips and tricks
- The lentils will have the best texture by cooking them low and slow, so aim for a simmer rather than a boil when cooking the soup. A simmer looks like small even bubbles breaking across the surface, with wisps of steam. This article on the difference between a simmer and boil has a great visual comparison.
- I used Diamond Crystal kosher salt for this recipe, which is lighter and flakier than Morton kosher or regular table salt. To use Morton kosher or regular table salt, just start with only ½ teaspoon, rather than the 1 teaspoon called for, to avoid over-salting the soup. You can add more as needed to taste.
- If you have a busy day and don't want to watch over the soup, you can cook it in the crock pot or slow cooker! Just brown the turkey in the oil on the stovetop first. Then transfer it, along with the rest of the soup ingredients, to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours.
All of the ingredients in this lentil turkey soup are naturally gluten free. However, there may be some potential issues with cross-contamination, depending on the brands of packaged items you are using. For example, the bag of lentils I used have "may contain wheat" printed on the package. Therefore, check the packaging on your ingredients to make sure they are labeled gluten free.
In general, this turkey lentil soup recipe will make about 8 ½ cups total volume. However, this amount may vary a little bit depending on how much liquid evaporated during the simmer and whether or not you added any extra broth during cooking.
Yes, you can make this lentil turkey soup recipe ahead of time! It reheats very well, even after being frozen. This soup will keep in the fridge for up to 3 - 4 days, or in the freezer for 2 - 3 months.
If you’ve tried this recipe, please leave a star rating and/or review in the comments section below, I would love to hear from you! You can also follow me on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. And sign up for my weekly newsletter to get recipes delivered straight to you!Print
This easy soup recipe is chock-full of flavor from cumin, coriander, and garlic! Plus, it's easy to freeze and reheat for later, making it a great meal prep option.
- 1 pound (454 g) ground turkey (see note 1)
- 1 cup (195 g) dried brown or green lentils
- 2 medium carrots
- 2 ribs celery
- 1 medium onion
- 3 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 6 - 8 cups (1.4 - 1.9 L) broth or stock, any type
- one 14.5 ounce (411 g) can diced tomatoes, undrained
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt, or to taste (see note 2)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon coriander
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- Pick through the lentils to remove any small pebbles or debris. Rinse and drain the lentils, set aside.
- Prep the vegetables: First, peel the carrots. Then slice the peeled carrots and the celery ribs into about ⅓ inch (8.5 mm) slices. Chop the onion. Finely chop the garlic. Set the veggies aside.
- Heat the oil in a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium high heat. When the oil is hot, swirl the pot to coat the bottom with oil. Add the turkey and cook for 3 - 4 minutes, or until the turkey is browned. During cooking, stir frequently and break up the ground turkey into smaller chunks with the wooden spoon.
- Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic, plus the kosher salt, cumin, coriander and black pepper. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, for an additional 3 - 4 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.
- Add in the lentils, full can of diced tomatoes (undrained), and 6 cups of broth. Stir the soup and turn the heat up to bring the soup to a boil. Once the broth is boiling, turn the heat down to maintain a simmer. Simmer the soup, stirring occasionally, for 30 - 35 minutes, or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. If the liquid in the soup is evaporating too quickly during the simmer, or if you want the soup to have a thinner texture, add more broth (or water) as needed.
- When the lentils and vegetables are tender, turn off the burner. Taste the soup and, if needed, add more salt and/or pepper to taste.
I recommend using 93% lean ground turkey, but if you prefer, you can also use 99% lean ground turkey.
This recipe was developed using Diamond Crystal kosher salt, which is lighter and flakier than Morton kosher or table salt. To substitute Morton kosher or regular table salt, start with only ½ teaspoon, adding more to taste as needed.
This recipe yields about 8 ½ cups soup.
The nutrition information below is an estimate only, 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: 269
- Sugar: 3.5 g
- Sodium: 809 mg
- Fat: 10.1 g
- Saturated Fat: 2 g
- Carbohydrates: 27.6 g
- Fiber: 10.8 g
- Protein: 28.9 g
- Cholesterol: 71 mg
Keywords: lentil turkey soup, lentil soup with turkey