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Angled view of Italian Lentil Soup with carrots, celery and spinach, topped with parmesan, and surrounded by another bowl of soup, bread and a dish towel.

Italian Lentil Soup

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5 from 1 review

  • Author: Sabrina Russo
  • Total Time: 40 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x


This is my family recipe for Italian Lentil soup. Make sure to top with plenty of parmesan cheese!


  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • ½ medium onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 medium carrots, sliced into ½ inch thick pieces
  • 1 stalk celery, sliced into ½ inch thick pieces
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed in garlic press
  • 46 cups beef broth* (I prefer a light colored beef bone broth)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cups fresh baby spinach*
  • 2/3 cup dry elbow pasta*
  • Kosher salt and fresh cracked pepper
  • Freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (parmesan) cheese, for serving*
  • Crusty bread, warmed in oven, for serving


  1. Sauté aromatics and lentils: Heat a Dutch oven or large soup pot over medium heat. Add oil, onions, carrots and celery. Season with salt. Sauté 6-8 minutes or until vegetables start to soften and onions become translucent. Add lentils and garlic, cook about 30-60 seconds, making sure to avoid browning.
  2. Add broth and simmer: Add 4 cups of broth and bay leaf. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and partially cover. Simmer about 15 minutes or until lentils are tender.
  3. Add pasta: Add pasta along with 1 more cup of broth. Simmer rapidly for about 4-6 minutes, or until pasta is cooked through. Stir in spinach and cook 15 seconds or until spinach is wilted. Add additional broth, if desired. Taste for salt. Discard bay leaf.
  4. Serve: Ladle soup into serving dishes. Top with a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of cheese and fresh cracked pepper. Serve with bread, if desired. Enjoy.


Substitute chicken broth or vegetable broth for the beef broth, if desired.

If using mature spinach instead of baby, chop into smaller pieces and add it to soup at the same time as the pasta so it has more time to cook through. If using frozen spinach, defrost and add 1-2 minutes before pasta is cooked through.

For a gluten free version,  use gluten free pasta and bread, or omit both.

For a vegan version, use vegetable broth instead of beef, and nutritional yeast instead of parmesan.

Store in the fridge for up to a week, or freeze for up to 3 months before adding the pasta.

  • Prep Time: 15 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Boil, simmer
  • Cuisine: Italian


  • Serving Size: 1/4 of recipe
  • Calories: 400
  • Sugar: 6g
  • Sodium: 980mg
  • Fat: 16g
  • Saturated Fat: 2g
  • Unsaturated Fat: 14g
  • Trans Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 51g
  • Fiber: 8g
  • Protein: 17g
  • Cholesterol: 5mg