Italian Lentil Soup

Monday, September 23, 2019
On a cold winter day in Central N.Y., Grandma and I would sit there sorting lentils for some tiny rocks found in a bag of dried lentils to make this delicious Italian Lentil Soup.

She would wash them over and over again to make sure the beans in that pouch were clean and perfect for her soup, then soak them overnight (most packaged lentils no longer require soaking).

Grandma always wanted to make sure all the impurities on them were gone.

Just read the package for the modern-day instructions.

This was a typical soup we had on New Year's prepared shortly after midnight.

The tradition started in ancient Rome giving dried lentils in a pouch as a gift shortly after midnight on New Year's Eve.

The Romans said lentils would bring good luck in Italy and prosperity when eaten on the New Year First Day.

We still carry on that tradition and are big soup lovers here besides lentils are an easy-to-make favorite along with many other of our Best Soup Recipes Here.

Traditionally lentils are a natural symbol of abundance, and have come to represent money and good fortune with it!

Grandma was also from Rome, and we learned early on back in the 1960s, how to prepare a lentil soup for the New Year dinner.

This soup is easier and quicker to make now than what I remember using newer methods.

She also made the best Homemade Chicken Soup

If you would like a printable copy scroll all the way down to my recipe card and hit print.

this is homemade lentil soup made from scratch with a heel of bread and grated cheese in the photo

Comforting Lentil Soup

If you grew up in the winter in Utica New York in an all-Italian household, you will remember mom or grandma making this soup all winter long.

It was a staple in our home and I still love this delicious soup along with my family through the generations.

Back in the 1960s, this was considered a very economical meal to feed a large family, so we had it once a week.

Although I do not make it much living in Florida, those childhood memories of mom and grandma making this comforting soup will always be one of my finest memories in the kitchen.

Healthy Benefits

Lentil soup is a nutritional powerhouse.

It combines the nutrients, protein, good carbs, and fiber in lentils with the antioxidant power of veggies, herbs, and spices.

Grandma also added a little good fat from the extra virgin olive oil rounding it out into a perfectly balanced meal.

Lentils are especially high in B vitamins and minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium, and zinc.

As I said previously this soup is incredibly easy to make and really inexpensive, you can make a giant pot of soup that will feed many people for under ten dollars!

this is a delicious pan of lentil soup boiling

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Escarole and Beans
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this is a delicious bowl of lentil soup with Italian bread

Ingredients You Will Need(for instructions and exact amounts scroll down to the printable recipe card below)

  • dried lentil
  • chicken broth
  • white wine
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • fresh parsley
  • garlic cleaned
  • garlic powder
  • Optional: 1 cup diced tomatoes,1 sauteed diced onion. grated cheese for garnishing, hard-crusted Italian bread for dipping, crackers or croutons.
  • 1 head of escarole cleaned and boiled making sure they are cooked through the drain, then chopped fine when cooled
  • salt, and pepper to taste
  • carrots, celery
  • (for meat flavoring, add ham bone or prosciutto while simmering.)Grandma would usually put bacon or ham in this for flavoring

Tool You Will Need  for Italian Lentil Soup

  1. 5 to 6-quart soup pot
  2. colander to drain the lentils after washing
  3. bowls
  4. ladle
  5. spoons
  6. either a knife for chopping or a food processor
  7. cheese grater if garnished with Italian grated cheese

Soak or not to Soak Lentils?

It's interesting why lentils are soaked, here's the answer: it turns out lentils in general unsoaked are not good for digestion.

Apparently, the outer shell of lentils (and some beans) contains anti-nutrients that can interfere with digestion.

The solution is to soak them, thereby neutralizing the anti-nutrients.

This is a large white bowl of homemade lentil soup made from scratch

Some Lentil History

The best-known lentil soup comes not from a manual of classic cuisine but from the biblical story of Jacob and Esau and is mentioned in the Bible: In Genesis 25:30-34, as Esau is prepared to give up his birthright for a pot of fragrant red lentil soup being cooked by his brother, Jacob.

Originating in the Middle East, lentils are believed to be the first legume ever cultivated.

In Jewish tradition, lentil soup has been served at times of mourning; the roundness of the lentil represents a complete cycle of life.

Lastly, lentils are a superfood, they are high in protein, complex carbohydrates, and fiber.

In addition, they are rich in iron, potassium, and folate. They contain virtually no fat and are cholesterol-free.

this is a large soup pot on how to make Italian Lentil Soup

Pin for later

this is a pin for later lentil soup recipe

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lentil soup recipes, lentil recipes, Italian soup recipes, New Year Eve ITalian recipes
Yield: 12
Author: Claudia Lamascolo
Italian Lentil Soup

Italian Lentil Soup

Italian Lentil Soup usually served after midnight for Good Luck New Year's Eve tradition


  • 1 cup dried lentils washed and sorted soaked for 2 hours in water with 1/2 teaspoon salt (refer to package instructions)
  • 4 cups chicken broth (I make my own click here)
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 sprigs of fresh parsley
  • 3 cloves garlic cleaned (minced if not put through a food processor)
  • 1/4 teaspoon of garlic powder
  • 1 head of escarole cleaned and boiled making sure they are cooked until soft and then drain, then chop the escarole when cooled
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt, pepper to taste
  • a handful (1 cup) of sliced or fingerling carrots, 2 stalks of celery
  • (for meat flavoring, add ham bone, bacon, ham hocks, or prosciutto while simmering.)
  • Grandma would usually put bacon or ham in this for flavoring
  • Optional: 1 cup diced tomatoes,1 sauteed diced onion.
  • Garnish: add some grated cheese on top, dip the broth with hard-crusted Italian bread, can be served with crackers or garlic-flavored croutons.


  1. Drain and rinse lentils. Check the package for cleaning instructions.
  2. In a food processor add the garlic, celery, garlic, and parsley ( grandma chopped by hand) and pulse until small chunks..
  3. Put oil in a large soup pot, add the minced vegetables, carrots, tomatoes, cooked chopped escarole, and garlic powder, and add salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Add any meat if using (IE bacon, ham, Italian sliced sausage, or even pepperoni slice).
  5. Grandma used whatever we had, or sometimes all vegetarian.
  6. Add wine and broth and cover the pot
  7. Slow Cooker Method: cook 6 hours or low 8 to 10 hours high.
  8. Instant Pot Method: cook 35 minutes refer to the instruction booklet for bean soup
  9. The soup is very thick if you would like it thinner add more chicken broth.
  10. Serve with Italian Fresh grated Pecorino Romano cheese a dash of red pepper flakes and hard-crusted Italian bread for dipping in the juice


Soak or not to Soak Lentils?

It's interesting why lentils are soaked, here's the answer: it turns out lentils in general unsoaked are not good for digestion.

Apparently, the outer shell of lentils (and some beans) contains anti-nutrients that can interfere with digestion.

The solution is to soak them, thereby neutralizing the anti-nutrients.

More Soup Recipes

Perfect Chicken Broth
Old Fashioned Chicken Soup
Chickpea Florentine Soup
Roasted Garlic and Potato Soup
Broccoli Cheese Soup
Ham, Cabbage and Bean Soup
Crockpot Ham and Cabbage

Pin this Lentil Soup for Later

this is a pin for how to make Italian Lentil Soup

This is an affiliate link and I do make a small commission See Disclosure Policy

Disclosure: This recipe was originally shared in 2010. It was edited and re-published in 2019.


  1. Soup is one of my favorite meals, in fact we are making a Southwest soup tonight.

    Your lentil and escarole soup looks wonderful....getting out my soup spoon now!

  2. This soup il delicious, one of my favorites. Great ;)

  3. Perfect. I love putting escarole into soup -and bring on those lentils! I'm warm already.

  4. There are no end to good lentil soups, and what a lovely earthy one this! We tend to use chard as escarole is not so common here (in Melbourne Australia!)

  5. @cajunchefRyan thank you :)
    @Frederica not too many love lentils its one of my favorites too
    @Claudia thanks I know your soups are all fantastic as well!
    @joy wow love to visit your world someday, so honored you appreciate this thank you! Funny I live in Melbourne Florida~ wow!!!

  6. yum, such comfort in that bowl of soup ... this is another of your recipes I know I will like, thanks for posting it and keep them coming

  7. Lentils have always been a favorite of mine! Soup looks delicious!

  8. One of my favorite foods is escarole. I love the taste of it, especially with beans. This soup looks so good and I know it would go great with your bread!

  9. oh wow great soup and so healthy Rebecca

  10. What a comforting bowl of yum! Totally delicious with that crusty hunk of bread for dunking.

  11. I make a similar soup, what a great recipe!

  12. A wonderful, delicious soup, what a great combination of ingredients!

  13. Claudia, the soup looks so sumptious and I noticed that the beans are really soft & tender. Just perfect! Btw, how's life at your working place? Busy?

  14. Lentil soup with crusty bread...does it get any better than that? (Oh, and a nice glass of red wine.) I've never added escarole before but it looks like I should be doing that. This looks divine!

  15. i love the lentils soup,your is great!

  16. This is just the perfect thing to make for a one-pot meal: simple, healthy, delicious, and satisfying.

  17. A wonderful, warming and healthy soup indeed!

  18. I love making big batches of this kind of's even better the next day. And so healthy, too.

  19. You will never guess what my tomorrow post is. I'll give you a clue it's amazingly similar to yours. This sounds good.

  20. Your Lentil Soup looks so warm and comforting in this cold rainy weather. Hope you are having a great week and thanks so much for sharing with us at Full Plate Thursday!
    Miz Helen


Remember to use the search option for a recipe you're looking for and thanks for all your kind words and support. We love our readers all the best Claudia