Smoky Lentil Soup

A steaming hot bowl of soup on a chilly day in fall or winter…that is one of the things I truly crave this time of year.  It is comforting and satisfying without having too much food.  Served with a salad and a nice loaf of crusty bread, there is almost nothing more nourishing to your body or soul.

We love soup!  French Pumpkin Soup, French Onion Soup, Roasted Tomato Soup and the newly discovered Spiced Carrot Soup…to name just a few.

I came across this Smoky Lentil Soup recipe after purchasing a snazzy new blender that also makes soup.  Yes, it is true.  However, I chose to make this very enjoyable soup the old-fashioned way and prepared it in a Le Creuset Dutch Oven on the stove.

The Red Chief Lentils cooked quickly in the broth.  This particular brand, Zürsun, is sustainably grown on small farms in Idaho’s Snake River Canyon.  Combined with diced tomatoes, other seasonings and just the right amount of smoky paprika, this soup was beautiful topped with chopped bacon and sour cream as a garnish.  I used Pimentón, which is a Spanish smoked paprika.  It is smoky, but with a hint of sweetness.

Mr. B has not been a big fan of lentils, but I think I have changed his mind after this soup. He loved the smokiness of the soup.  It added a nice touch and complimented the other flavors.

Lentils are a great source of protein and fiber and I hope to include them more often in our meals as we try to move away from eating quite so much meat.  You could also use vegetarian stock in this soup.  As always, I recommend using homemade stock or broth whenever possible.  It brings more depth of flavor and a different dimension to any dish.


Smoky Lentil Soup

Yield: 4 servings

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 60 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes


3 thick-cut bacon slices (I used organic)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 celery stalk, cut into 1/4-inch dice
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon smoked paprika (I used Pimenton, a Spanish smoked paprika)
1/4 cup canned diced tomatoes, drained
3/4 cup Red Chief lentils, picked over and rinsed
4 cups chicken broth (homemade or use Swanson's Organic Chicken Broth)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Sour cream for garnish (I use low-fat sour cream)


1. Preheat a griddle or sauté pan over medium-high heat. Add the bacon and cook, stirring occasionally, until crisp, 5 to 6 minutes. Drain on paper towels. Chop the bacon coarsely.

2. In a medium-size Dutch Oven, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onion, carrot, celery, garlic, tomato paste and paprika. Stir well. Turn the heat to low (as low as possible). Cover and cook on low until the vegetables just start to soften, about 25 minutes, opening the lid occasionally to stir. (* If your burner gets too hot, you may want to use a simmer plate. You do not want the vegetables to scorch.). Add the tomatoes, lentils and broth. Turn the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook covered until the lentils are tender, 35 to 40 minutes.

3. Puree the soup in batches in a blender or use an immersion blender. Season with salt and pepper. Pour the soup into warmed bowls and garnish with sour cream and the bacon.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Kitchens

21 Responses to “Smoky Lentil Soup”

  1. 1

    Marie — November 3, 2011 @ 11:32 am

    This looks incredible and I will make it tonight with the broth I made two days ago.
    Is “smoked paprika” something you buy in a jar?

    • Gwen replied: — November 3rd, 2011 @ 11:44 am

      Hi Marie,

      I used Pimenton, a Spanish smoked paprika. I just added that info to the post since a Hungarian paprika will impart a very different flavor. The Pimenton is smoky, but with a hint of sweetness. It adds a really nice layer of flavor to the soup.

      You can find Pimenton at Williams-Sonoma or Penzey’s. A specialty food store or good grocery store should carry it as well.

      Hope you enjoy the recipe!


  2. 2

    michelle — November 3, 2011 @ 11:37 am

    this looks so good! I just made a lentil and tomato soup today!

  3. 3

    Ann from Sumptuous Spoonfuls — November 3, 2011 @ 12:07 pm

    This soup sounds heavenly … and your photos are gorgeous. I’ve added it to my list of “things to make” :)

    • Gwen replied: — November 3rd, 2011 @ 1:01 pm

      Hi Ann,

      Thank you for your comments and yes, this recipe was definitely a winner.


  4. 4

    Barbara | Creative Culinary — November 3, 2011 @ 12:16 pm

    I bought red lentils just for a soup like this. I actually LOVE brown lentils with ham but the only word for that soup is ugly. The red really does make a lovely presentation Gwen so now really glad I picked them up.

    • Gwen replied: — November 3rd, 2011 @ 12:58 pm

      HI Barb,

      I’m glad you are all set with the red lentils. I would agree, this soup is a very pretty color when the brown lentils are…not so much. This looked very similar in color to a squash or pumpkin soup.

      Hope you enjoy it!


  5. 5

    Susan in the Boonies — November 3, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    What a coinkydink! I’m making Slow Cooker Lentil Soup today, AND I have some smoked paprika in my spice cabinet (and I love it!) Maybe I’ll anoint it with a little smokiness, while I’m at it! Thanks for the idea, Gwen!

  6. 6

    Denise@There's a Newf in My Soup! — November 3, 2011 @ 12:52 pm

    I have some Pimenton, and Spanish Pardina lentils but, as Barbara said, it may not be the prettiest bowl of soup. May still have to try it – I’m sure the flavors will be fantastic and I don’t have to photograph blog everything I cook 😉

    • Gwen replied: — November 3rd, 2011 @ 1:04 pm

      Hi Denise,

      LOL! Thank goodness we don’t have to write about and take pictures of EVERYTHING we cook, although it does seem that way sometimes.

      We did love this soup…even fussy Mr. B. :-)


  7. 7

    Kelly — November 3, 2011 @ 1:17 pm

    What a gorgeous soup, this is perfect for Fall! Love your photos as well :)

  8. 8

    Joy — November 3, 2011 @ 10:37 pm

    Too yummy! Great photos!

  9. 9

    torviewtoronto — November 3, 2011 @ 11:24 pm

    lovely presentation of the soup looks wonderful

  10. 10

    aarthi — November 4, 2011 @ 12:04 am

    I love this dish a lot..Thanks for the recipe dear..Totally loving it….Following your blog straight away..If you have time Check out my blog too..

    I am having a Giveaway..

  11. 11

    Amanda — November 5, 2011 @ 6:44 pm

    Mmm this looks so good and I like the smoked paprika, gives it such a nice smoky taste! If you like lentils, you will enjoy my warm sweet potato and lentil salad… check it out on my blog!


  12. 12

    Kim — November 6, 2011 @ 11:08 am

    Gwen – beautiful soup. This too is on my list for this season. I need to add some lentils to my repertoire. :-) By the way, gorgeous photo!!


  13. 13

    Liz — November 6, 2011 @ 3:29 pm

    Oh, your photos are stunning, Gwen! This soup sounds fabulous…I have to break out the lentils soon :)

  14. 14

    Monet — November 6, 2011 @ 10:56 pm

    This looks like the perfect fall meal. I love how you pureed the lentils too. Thank you for sharing another delicious and inspiring post. I hope you have a great Monday full of laughter and love.

  15. 15

    Nancy/SpicieFoodie — November 8, 2011 @ 4:41 pm

    Oh I couldn’t agree more! Soups in Autumn and Winter are my go to comfort foods. Lentils are also a favorite. Thanks for sharing and I can’t wait to try this.

  16. 16

    tarheelntx — November 22, 2011 @ 8:11 pm

    Made this soup for dinner tonight… it gets better with each bite. This recipe is a definite keeper!

  17. 17

    Susan in the Boonies — August 28, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

    This looks lovely, Gwen.
    I have lentils in my pantry, and will file this away for the chilly weather to come.

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