This Greek Lentil Soup (called Fakes Soupa, or Faki, in Greek) is my all time favorite lentil soup recipe. It’s healthy, hearty, plant-based/vegan, and packed with flavor from fresh herbs and fire-roasted tomatoes. And the best part: it’s finished off with a generous amount of pure extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar (yes, vinegar!) at the very end, which add a punch of both flavor and nutrition.
This lentil soup recipe is simplicity at its best. It was one of my favorite things to eat growing up, and it’s the perfect thing to eat with some crusty, buttered bread on a cold fall or winter evening.
Whenever I need a bit of a detox, this Greek lentil soup is my go-to. It’s one of those dishes where you almost feel *healthier* with every bite you take.
This lentil soup is the epitome of healthy Mediterranean food. The Mediterranean diet is known for its plant-based, olive oil rich recipes. Whether you follow a plant-based diet, or are strictly vegan, or eat meat every day, I promise you’ll fall in love with this delicious and hearty Greek lentil soup!
By the way, in Greek, the word for lentils is φακές (fakés). Not pronounced “fake” like “oh my gosh look at how real my fake louis vuitton looks.” It has two syllables.
What makes Greek Lentil Soup healthy?
This recipe is PACKED with good-for-you ingredients.
Lentils are high in protein and fiber, like other pulses, along with a ton of other nutrients.
Extra-virgin olive oil provides a dose of healthy fats (which also make this vegan meal more filling and satisfying). It’s used to sauté the vegetables AND stirred in at the end.
Add a ton of vitamin C-rich tomatoes to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a nutritional powerhouse of a meal!
And for an added boost of nutrition, you can use bone broth (for non-vegans or vegetarians) as an alternative to vegetable broth. I’ve made this with homemade turkey broth from a leftover thanksgiving turkey carcass, but usually I use homemade chicken stock.
Should you soak the lentils?
Lentils and other legumes are healthy and CHEAP. This entire huge pot of soup, which feeds a family of four twice or thrice for dinner, only costs about $5-$7 to make.
As with other legumes, however, lentils can cause some unpleasant digestive issues. This is easily remedied by soaking them, which I DO recommend (even though the package of lentils and other recipes may tell you it’s not necessary).
Just cover the lentils with plenty of water in a bowl or container, and allow them to soak up the water for 2-3 hours (up to overnight). The good thing is they don’t need to soak for as long as other legumes, since they are so small.
Make sure to cover with a lot of water- the lentils will about double in size (which is how you will know they are done).
What soaking the lentils does is begins the germination process, which breaks down some of the complex sugars, which is what makes legumes difficult to digest. It also makes the cooking time of the lentils so much shorter- this soup only needs about 30 minutes to simmer until it’s done!
When you are ready to make your soup, rinse the soaked lentils very well before adding them, and you’ll be good to go!
If you don’t have time to soak the lentils, the soup will cook up just fine if you don’t want to or don’t have time to soak. But be advised- it will take longer to cook (60-90 minutes) and require more liquid.
How to make Greek Lentil Soup
Just sauté some veggies, add some canned tomatoes and vegetable stock, the lentils, and simmer until the lentils are cooked!
- First, sauté some diced onions and celery together in some olive oil in a large pot. I’ve used carrots before too- throw ’em in there if you want to!
- Once the veggies are softened and starting to brown, add some chopped garlic. I like to chop it rather roughly so larger pieces are visible, but you can mince it if you prefer. Cook until you can smell the garlic- this will only take about 30 seconds (garlic burns quickly, which is why you should wait to add it).
- Then, add some red wine, vegetable (or chicken) broth, bay leaves, canned tomatoes, and LOTS of fresh herbs. I used mint, oregano, basil, and parsley. Bring to a boil.
- Add the lentils and simmer until cooked.
- Finally, turn off the heat and stir in some more extra-virgin olive oil and some red wine vinegar!
…Really? Red wine vinegar in soup? And MORE olive oil?
YES! Oh my goodness it’s delicious.
After the soup is done cooking, you’ll add some extra-virgin olive oil (a whole quarter of a cup- more if you feel like it) and red wine vinegar. I promise, it’s THE BEST THING EVER!
You might think it’s weird, adding vinegar to lentil soup. But don’t knock it ’till you try it. It adds the perfect amount of acidity to the soup to balance out the earthiness of the lentils. I use it in my vegetarian split pea soup, too.
I think it makes the soup seem a bit lighter, in the way lemon juice does to recipes. Lemon juice or apple cider vinegar would do the trick nicely, too.
And the olive oil, added at the end, lends a smooth, delicious flavor and texture to the soup.
Extra-virgin olive oil is unprocessed olive oil that’s straight from the olives to the bottle. It’s never been heated or altered in any way. It has a distinct flavor, and while you can and should cook with it, cooking/heating it affects its flavor.
Stirring it into the lentil soup after it’s done cooking protects it’s virgin flavor and adds a little something-something to the lentil soup in terms of flavor and texture.
What if I don’t have all those fresh herbs?
I feel lucky to have access to lots of fresh herbs from my garden almost year-round, but you can definitely use dried herbs as well. I’ve tried it both ways, and both are delicious. Just substitute 1 teaspoon of dried herbs for 1 tablespoon of fresh herbs (1/3 of the amount).
This recipe calls for LOTS of herbs- oregano, basil, parsley, and mint. Mint is a very “Greek” herb to use, and I love the flavor it adds to this and other recipes (like this one for Manestra– a one pot Greek orzo and beef dish).
But the herbs are flexible. You can feel free to omit or change one or two, or even use a tablespoon or two of Italian seasoning to simplify your life, which has many of the same herbs.
How to make lentil soup in your slow cooker
You can easily make this soup in your slow cooker.
Just add all the ingredients to your crockpot except for the extra olive oil and vinegar. Cook on low for 6-8 hours or high for 3-4, until the lentils are tender. Then, stir in the olive oil and red wine vinegar and serve.
Can I make it in my instant pot?
I’ve not tried it personally, but here’s what I’d do. Sauté the vegetables in a 6 or 8 quart Instant pot using the sauté function, then add the remaining ingredients (besides the olive oil and vinegar). Cook for 10 minutes on manual, high pressure (15 if unsoaked, with 2 cups more vegetable broth).
Then, allow the pressure to naturally release for 10 minutes, quick release until the float valve depresses, open it, and stir in the vinegar and olive oil.
Can I freeze lentil soup?
As a bonus, this soup freezes VERY well, and it makes a ton. In fact, I think it tastes better the longer it sits! The leftovers will last for about a week in the fridge, and you can freeze it in an airtight container for about 6 months.
I like this lentil soup as is, sometimes with an extra drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil on top. But you can also top it with other things, similarly to chili. Greek yogurt or sour cream, chopped green onions, hot sauce, etc. are all delicious served in this soup!
I also think it would be amazing served with a poached egg in it.
Slices of pita bread or crusty buttered bread are also a welcome addition to any soup recipe.
Other soups with legumes
- Instant Pot Split Pea Soup
- Moroccan Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Chickpea Stew
- Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Turmeric
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
- Instant Pot Black Eyed Pea Soup
- Smoky Sweet Potato, Lentil, and Spinach Stew
Here are all my soup and stew recipes.
Did you make this Greek lentil soup recipe? Please click the stars below to comment and Rate this Recipe
Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes Soupa)
- 1 lb dry lentils green or brown varieties
- 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil divided
- 1 large onion chopped finely
- 3 ribs celery thinly sliced
- 3 garlic cloves finely chopped
- 1/2 cup red wine
- 6 cups vegetable stock water, chicken stock, or bone broth can be used also
- 28 oz. canned diced tomatoes preferably fire-roasted
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tablespoon fresh parsley or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh oregano or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 tablespoon fresh mint or 1 teaspoon dried
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
- Soak lentils in a large bowl or container covered with lots of water for 2-4 hours (or overnight). Drain and rinse well.
- Sauté the onions and celery in a large pot over medium-high heat in 1 tablespoon of olive oil until softened and beginning to brown (about 3 minutes).
- Add the garlic, sauté until fragrant (about 30 seconds).
- Pour in the red wine and stir, cooking until it has reduced by about half (about 2 minutes).
- Add the vegetable stock, tomatoes, bay leaves, herbs, salt, pepper, and soaked lentils.
- Stir, bring to a boil, cover, and simmer on low for 30 minutes, or until lentils are tender.
- Turn off heat and stir in the remaining 1/4 cup of extra-virgin olive oil and the red wine vinegar. Taste and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- Freezer directions: this soup can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months and leftovers will last about a week in the fridge.
- Wine substitution: You can omit the wine if you want- just skip that step and move right to adding the broth, tomatoes, and other ingredients.
- Sometimes I like adding barley with a little more liquid to make it extra hearty.
- To make this in your slow cooker, stir all ingredients besides the olive oil and red wine vinegar together in the crockpot and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8. When it's done, stir in the olive oil and vinegar and adjust seasoning if necessary.
- To make this in your instant pot, sauté the vegetables, add the remaining ingredients, and cook for 10 minutes on manual high. Naturally release pressure for 10 minutes before quick releasing. Stir in olive oil and vinegar.
- The provided nutrition information does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. Feel free to calculate it yourself using this calculator or by adding the recipe to Yummly.