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Italian Lentil Soup is the Best

Our Editor-in-Chief shares his recipe for Italian Lentil Soup and explains why this version bests that of other cuisines.

Italian Lentil Soup.

Italian Lentil Soup.

OK, I'm biased, but isn't every recipe better when made the Italian way? I love all the interpretations of Lentil Soup, but this souped-up version (pun intended) features all-star Italian products that greatly enhance the flavor: Guanciale, Aceto Balsamico, and a rind of Parmigiano Reggiano.

Even if you make the meatless or vegan version (omissions/ substitutions are clearly noted within the recipe), we think you'll find that Italian lentil soup is superior.

For the recipe below, and in general, we recommend using dried lentils soaked overnight in water, which yields superior flavor and texture as opposed to canned lentils — though you can use the latter in a pinch. Be sure to check the sodium content if you used canned lentils, because while this is one of the healthiest ingredients in your pantry, the salt used to preserved canned lentils can be concerning. A hack is available, though: Rinse canned lentils under running water to remove a good amount of the sodium.

Still, follow our advice and keep a bag of dried lentils in your pantry, along with all of your essential spices and herbs. They'll last virtually forever—though it's recommended to use them within a year or so—and require only a simple overnight soak in water.

What's best is that lentils, no matter how you make them, are inexpensive, versatile, filling, and full of vitamins, protein, and fiber.

Who doesn't to be healthy, wealthy and satisfied after a meal?

Buon Appetito!

Italian Lentil Soup

Italian Lentil Soup

Recipe by Andrew Cotto
0.0 from 0 votes


Prep time


Cooking time






  • 2 cups 2 dried brown lentils, soaked overnight in water then drained before using

  • 1 cup 1 chopped onion

  • 1 cup 1 chopped carrots

  • 1 cup 1 chopped celery

  • 1/2 pound 1/2 cubed guanciale (optional)

  • 6 cups 6 chicken stock or water

  • 3 cloves 3 garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon 1 fennel pollen or oregano

  • 1 1 Parmigiano rind

  • 1/2 cup 1/2 Aceto Balsamico

  • 1/4 cup 1/4 Extra Virgin Olive Oil (if omitting the guanciale)

  • 1 small can 1 tomato paste

  • Salt & Pepper


  • In a large Dutch oven or saucepan, render the guanciale over low heat until it is browned on all sides (stirring occasionally), about 10-12 minutes.
  • Remove the guanciale with a slotted spoon, reserve.
  • Raise the heat slightly and add the onion, carrots and celery (if not using guanciale, start with the EVOO over medium-low heat and add the vegetables when the oil shimmers).
  • Season the vegetables (if not using guanciale) with salt & pepper.
  • Sweat the vegetables, stirring occasionally, about 20 minutes.
  • Add the garlic and stir, occasionally, for five minutes.
  • Add the fennel pollen or oregano, stir.
  • Add the tomato paste and stir constantly until it takes on a rusty tinge, 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the Aceto Balsamico and deglaze the pan, stirring constantly for two minutes.
  • Add the drained lentils, Parmigiano rind, and stock or water.
  • Cover and bring to a boil.
  • Reduce the heat and simmer uncovered for one hour.
  • Add the guanciale (if using).
  • Remove the Parmigiano rind before serving (discard).
  • Anoint with EVOO and garnish as desired.

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