Easy Lentil Soup With Lemon Zest, Garlic, and Parsley Recipe

The secret to a flavor-packed lentil soup? Gremolata: a mixture of parsley, lemon zest, and garlic. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

An easy lentil soup is packed with flavor thanks to a dual-use mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest that gets added both before and after cooking.

Why this recipe works:

  • We keep it simple with just basic aromatics and good stock as the background for dried lentils.
  • A mixture of parsley, garlic, and lemon zest combined with olive oil goes into the vegetables as they are sautéed and also gets stirred into the soup just before serving for maximum flavor.

Recipe Facts

Active: 25 mins
Total: 90 mins
Serves: 3 to 4 servings

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  • 2 tablespoons grated zest and 2 tablespoons juice from 1 to 2 lemons
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 6 medium cloves garlic, minced (about 2 tablespoons)
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, finely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 medium onion, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced (about 1 cup)
  • 1 pound dried brown or Puy lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 quarts homemade or store-bought low-sodium chicken stock or vegetable stock


  1. Combine lemon zest, parsley, garlic, and half of olive oil in a medium bowl and stir with a fork until homogenous. Season to taste with salt and pepper and set aside.

  2. Heat remaining olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add leek, onion, carrot, and celery and cook, stirring frequently, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add half of parsley-lemon mixture and cook, stirring, until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add lentils and stir until coated in oil. Add bay leaves and stock. Bring to a boil, reduce to a bare simmer, cover with lid slightly cracked, and cook until lentils are completely tender and falling apart, about 1 hour, adding water as necessary (lentils should be fully covered at all times).

  3. Using a hand blender, blend soup until as smooth as desired. Alternatively, transfer half of soup to a standing blender, blend until smooth, and fold back into remaining soup. Whisk in lemon juice and season to taste with salt and pepper. Serve, drizzling extra lemon-parsley mixture on top of each serving. Soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.

Special equipment

microplane grater, large Dutch oven, immersion blender or standing blender

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