Soups are one of the best easy vegetarian meal ideas, and this lentil kale soup is one you’ll keep returning to over and over again.

bowl of vegetable lentil soup with spoon next to bread slices

It’s full of texture from a variety of vegetables (many also found in our favorite root vegetable soup), green lentils, kale …and more! It has complex flavors from several spices, and it’s totally dip-your-bread-in-worthy.

It also fits into the FITK rule when it comes to making soups from scratch: it’s gotta be easy, quick (ish, at least), and ultimately cozy and comforting.

Just like vegetarian potato soup, and broccoli cauliflower soup, this one checks all of the boxes! Looking for other grain-and-veggie-packed soups? Try our hearty vegetable barley soup, too!

up close side view of lentil soup with spoon

The Ingredients

This vegetable lentil soup fits into a variety of dietary needs: easily made vegan, and naturally vegetarian. It’s also gluten-free and dairy-free! WIN for dinners that easily accommodate all! It makes about 4 servings.

  • Lentils – so, not all lentils are created equal, but you can easily substitute in this recipe, keeping in mind that they will cook at different rates.
    • I use green lentils because they retain their shape and can withstand all that pressure cooking when made in the IP. You can also substitute brown lentils, and cook for less time on the stovetop.
  • Veggies! This soup is loaded with root veggies. There are parsnips, carrots, celery, and kale to keep those nutrients flowing.
  • Aromatics – you know I’m not making anything savory without onion and garlic.
  • Spices – maybe not the spices you would initially think of, this soup packs a slight kick with the addition of cumin, paprika, white and black peppers, and a little red pepper flake if you’re feeling spicy.
  • Vegetable stockthe base of the soup, and to keep it vegetarian. Not vegetarian? You could substitute chicken stock, too.
  • Garnishes – I like to add chopped walnuts and parsley to the finished dish, because not only are walnuts super nutritious and provide some good fats, but they add that extra crunch and texture to the soup.
  • Lemon squeeze – a don’t skip step! It adds a little acidic brightness to the soup that would otherwise be greatly missed (and hey, can’t argue with the vitamin C boost it gives this time of year, either!
ingredients for soup with labels

Instant Pot Vegetable Soup

If you have an Instant Pot, then you might not need another reason if you use and love it. Making green lentil vegetable soup in your IP makes it a quick and hands-off process.

With this soup recipe, the Instant Pot significantly takes the cooking time down on the lentils, making it a speedy dinner.

What If I don’t have an Instant Pot?

That’s A-OK because you can make this vegetarian lentil soup recipe on the stovetop. It only takes about 10 minutes longer, but it’s still an easy, one-pot process!

How to Make Vegetable Lentil Soup

Whether you are making this soup in the Instant Pot or on the stovetop, the steps are basically the same. It’s all easy, quick, and delicious!

First, you’ll start by sautéing the onion, celery, carrots, and parsnips (photo 1). Because these are the veggies that take the longest to cook, they go first and release all their delicious flavors.

Then goes the garlic and spices to let their flavor shine through (photo 2).

Then, into the pot goes the green lentils and vegetable stock. Cover and let it slowly boil until the lentils have cooked through. Or, set your Instant Pot and let it do its thing.

If you’re not using green lentils, be sure to adjust the cooking time accordingly.

pouring vegetable stock into dutch oven with lentils

Once the lentils have cooked through, squeeze in the lemon juice, add the kale (photo 4) and let it wilt (photo 5), then serve it up. Don’t forget to taste-test the soup and adjust the salt levels as needed. Both the acid from the lemon juice and salt will open up all those flavors.

Serve it up, and garnish with chopped walnuts and parsley as desired. True, they are optional, but the crunch from the walnuts and freshness from the parsley takes the soup to a gourmet level.

What to Serve with Lentil Soup

For more-than-just-carbs, serve it alongside a comforting grilled cheese, a light sandwich, or a simple green salad.

Storage and Freezing Tips

Whether you’re storing leftovers or meal-prepping the soup for easy lunches throughout the week, just store the soup in individual portions in an airtight container for up to 4-5 days. I prefer using glass jars or food containers to make sure no other flavors seep into the soup.

Reheat it in the microwave or on the stovetop until hot.

Yes, you can freeze lentil soup! Because there’s no dairy in this soup, the texture remains and the soup thaws out beautifully. I love freezing soup in Souper Cubes for perfectly portioned amounts that are easy to transfer into freezer bags for longer storage.

Similar to reheating, thaw the soup on defrost in the microwave or in the stovetop until warmed through. Enjoy!

hands holding bowl and spoon

More Soup Recipes to Love:

Need even more delicious soup ideas? Check out our collection of vegetarian soup recipes!

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

bread in bowl of vegetable lentil soup
5 (9 ratings)

Get the Recipe Hearty Green Lentil & Vegetable Soup (Instant Pot Option)

This nourishing lentil vegetable soup is hearty, filling, and packed with good-for-you ingredients. Made with green lentils, kale, carrots, parsnips, celery, and more. You can easily make the soup stovetop (40 minutes) or in the Instant Pot (30 minutes). Either way, this chunky veggie-filled soup is ready in no time!



  • Instant Pot Directions: Turn on the "sauté" function and melt butter (or heat olive oil). Add parsnip, carrots, onion, celery, garlic, and spices, stirring to combine, and sauté for 1-2 minutes. Turn off the sauté function and add lentils and 3 ½ cups vegetable stock. Stir to combine. Close the top and make sure the valve is turned to sealed. Cook on high pressure for 11 minutes. Quick-release the steam once it's done. Remove the lid and finish the soup as directed in step 3.
  • Stovetop Directions: In a Dutch oven or large stock pot, melt butter over medium heat (or heat olive oil). Add parsnip, carrots, onion, and celery; cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the garlic and spices and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Stir in lentils and 3 cups vegetable broth and bring to a low boil. Cover and cook for 30-35 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add the additional 1/2 cup of vegetable stock as needed for desired consistency. 
  • Finishing Touches: Remember to taste test for salt levels. After cooking, stir in the lemon juice and kale into the soup, until kale wilts. Serve and garnish with chopped walnuts and chopped parsley as desired.


You can use brown lentils in place of green lentils, which will cook faster (ideal for the stovetop method). Check the cooking directions and adjust accordingly if using another type of lentils. 
Calories: 295kcal, Carbohydrates: 43g, Protein: 12g, Fat: 10g, Saturated Fat: 6g, Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g, Monounsaturated Fat: 2g, Trans Fat: 1g, Cholesterol: 23mg, Sodium: 1539mg, Potassium: 865mg, Fiber: 15g, Sugar: 8g, Vitamin A: 8704IU, Vitamin C: 52mg, Calcium: 118mg, Iron: 4mg
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a star rating and review in the form below. I appreciate your feedback, and it helps others, too!

This post was originally published in January of 2019; the text and photos were updated in January of 2021. No changes were made to the recipe.