This Greek Lentil Soup (called Fakes Soupa in Greek) is one of my all-time favorite soup recipes.
It’s healthy, hearty, 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 unadulterated extra-virgin olive oil and red wine vinegar (yes, vinegar!) at the very end, which add a punch of both flavor and nutrition.
This 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.
And it’s 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).
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 and it is mmm mmm good.
I’ve been trying to incorporate more legumes into my diet. They’re so filling and so 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!
While I do suggest soaking, 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.
When you are ready to make your soup, rinse the soaked lentils very well before adding them, and you’ll be good to go!
You can make this soup on your stovetop or slow cooker (or Instant Pot, I’m sure, but I haven’t tried it).
And, while I feel lucky to have access to lots of fresh herbs from my garden almost year-round, you can definitely use dried herbs as well. I’ve tried it both ways, and both are delicious.
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.
While the fresh (or dried) herbs are great and add a ton of flavor to this lentil soup, the REAL flavor enhancer comes at the very end.
After it’s 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 think it makes the soup seem a bit lighter, in the way lemon juice does to recipes.
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 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.
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. Sour cream, chopped green onions, hot sauce, etc. are all delicious served in this soup!
I also think it would be delicious served with a poached egg in it.
If you like this Greek Lentil Soup recipe, you’ll love this Split Pea Soup, this Moroccan Butternut Squash, Spinach, and Chickpea Stew, and this Butternut Squash and Red Lentil Soup with Turmeric.
Here’s the printable recipe!
Greek Lentil Soup (Fakes Soupa)
- 1 lb dry lentils green or brown varieties
- 1 tablespoon plus 1/4 cup good extra-virgin olive oil
- 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
- 1 28- oz can good quality 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.
- This soup makes excellent leftovers and freezes very well. The flavors get even better as it sits! It can be kept in the freezer for up to 6 months and leftovers will last about a week in the fridge.
- You can omit the wine if you want- just skip that step and move right to adding the broth, tomatoes, and other ingredients.
- 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.
- 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.