This Turkey Lentil Soup is a super easy and delicious dinner with tender vegetables, melt in your mouth lentils, and juicy ground turkey. Made all in one pot, it’s a perfect easy weeknight meal.
The ingredients for this turkey lentil soup can be found below, with quantities listed in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
- Ground turkey: I typically buy relatively lean ground turkey (93% lean 7% fat) because that is what’s typically at my grocery store, but really any percent variation will be just fine. Avoid any packaging that is overly puffy, as it usually means it has not been kept at the right temperature.
- Mirepoix: A combination of minced yellow onion, celery and carrots. This provides a great base of flavor for the sauce. Celery: Finely diced, similar to
- Garlic: a few cloves either minced or sliced, just for a little hint of the flavor.
- Lentils: green and brown lentils are preferred for this recipe. They become soft and tender when cooked, holding their shape, and are ready within 20-30 minutes. Other varieties include yellow, red (although they look orange), and black, each good for their own use. More on lentil varieties here.
- Crushed tomatoes: A can of crushed tomatoes adds a lot of flavor and is the first base of the liquid part of the soup.
- Vegetable stock: The other portion of the liquid base. Use a good vegetable stock if you can, because the lentils soak it up! Vegetable broth also works.
- Spices: A combination of cumin, ginger, kosher salt, and black pepper add the perfect hint of warming spice.
- Fresh parsley: Topping the hearty soup with fresh chopped parsley is the perfect balance.
- Parmesan cheese: Another topping, it melts ever so slightly on top of the soup and is a great salty nuttiness. Parmesan from Italy will be labeled as Parmigiano Reggiano with a DOP (protected designation of origin) sticker which confirms it was made in Italy.
The above ingredients are what I prefer to use in this lentil turkey soup, but any of the below substitutions would be great.
- Instead of ground turkey you can use ground beef
- You can omit meat altogether to make it vegetarian
- Instead of vegetable stock you can use chicken stock or chicken broth, or even turkey stock if you have it.
- Use pecorino romano cheese instead of parmesan
- Instead of fresh garlic you can use garlic powder
- For some more healthy ingredients, add some baby spinach into the soup in the last 5 minutes of cooking
- If you have leftover turkey meat or chicken (rotisserie chicken even) you can use that instead of ground chicken, just chop it up add it in when you add the stock and tomatoes
- If you have a bay leaf, throw it in!
Step by step instructions
See below for step-by-step instructions on how to make the soup with reference images!
Sauté the turkey. In a large pot or dutch oven (I used 5.5QT), warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the ground turkey and mash it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until no longer pink on the outside, but not fully cooked through – about 5 minutes.
Add the mirepoix and spices. To the pot with the turkey, add the mirepoix – the chopped onion, celery, and carrots – and the cumin, ginger, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent and the carrots and celery begin to soften, about ~8 minutes.
Add the garlic. After ~8 minutes of sautéing the mirepoix, add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes.
Add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, and stock. Add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer at medium-low heat.
Simmer. Simmer the soup with the lid on for about 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally, and begin checking the lentils for done-ness at 15 minutes as cooking time can vary for the lentils. Serve with parmesan and parsley.
Different types of lentils
There are a variety of lentils, all delicious, and some better than others for certain use-cases. Below is a quick overview:
- Brown and green lentils: these are generally the most commonly known lentil variety and are widely available. Brown and green lentils are rather interchangeable, so if you can’t find one, the other is completely fine. Both brown and green lentils hold their shape if cooked the appropriate amount of time, and become deliciously soft and tender.
- Red and yellow lentils: Red lentils actually look orange for the most part, and are very interchangeable with yellow lentils. Both of these varieties cook in a shorter amount of time than brown and green lentils. Red and yellow lentils also do not hold their shape as much, and can become mushy when cooked (which is very desirable for a lot of recipes!).
Tips and tricks
This deliciously cozy turkey lentil soup is a relatively easy recipe made in one pot, but the tips and tricks below will help make sure it goes seamlessly and turns out delicious.
- While the lentils are simmering in the soup make sure you stir it occasionally so none stick to each other or the bottom of the pot.
- Always taste your food before finishing! Add more salt or pepper to taste if needed.
- If you can, chop the ingredients for the mirepoix roughly the same size, it makes for a nicer bite and ensures everything cooks through evenly.
- Add some spice with red pepper flakes, cayenne, or Calabrian chilis if you like
- Adjust the thickness of the soup by altering the amount of stock you add – for a thicker soup, add 1 cup less stock and for a thinner soup add 1 cup more.
Storage and reheating
If you have any leftover soup, this one stores very well for the next day or next month(s).
- Storage: let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer to an airtight container and store it in the fridge for up to 3 days.
- Freezing: let the soup cool to room temperature, then transfer to airtight freezer safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. leave room at the top of the container because the soup will expand as it freezes.
- If from the fridge, warm either on the stovetop or in increments in the microwave.
- If from frozen, warm on medium low heat on the stovetop, stirring often until warmed through.
Yes! They are loaded with vitamin B, magnesium, potassium, and are a great source of protein and fiber. More details here.
Rinsing lentils is preferred to get some of the excess starch and any debris off, but honestly I only do it half the time, so it’s not necessary.
Yes, you can – when they are overcooked they start to become really mushy and can fall apart. You want them to be tender, but not disintegrating.
Yes! If your slow cooker has the sauté function, sauté the turkey, mirepoix, and garlic as directed. Then add the lentils, tomato, and stock and cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 6-8 hours. If your slow cooker doesn't have the sauté function, I'd recommend sautéing the ingredients on the stovetop then transferring to the slow cooker.
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Turkey Lentil Soup
- 1 lb ground turkey
- 1.5 cups yellow onion, diced 1 onion
- 1 cup celery, diced 2 stalks
- 1 cup carrot, diced 1 large carrot
- 2 tablespoon garlic, minced 4 cloves
- 1 cup dried brown or green lentils, rinsed
- 28oz crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ cup fresh parsley
- ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
- In a large pot or dutch oven (I used 5.5QT), warm olive oil over medium-high heat. Once warm, add the ground turkey and mash it up with a wooden spoon or spatula. Cook until no longer pink on the outside, but not fully cooked through – about 5 minutes.
- To the pot with the turkey, add the mirepoix – the chopped onion, celery, and carrots – and the cumin, ginger, kosher salt, and black pepper. Cook until the onion is translucent and the carrots and celery begin to soften, about ~8 minutes.
- After ~8 minutes of sautéing the mirepoix, add the garlic and cook another 5 minutes.
- Add the lentils, crushed tomatoes, and stock to the pot. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer at medium-low heat.
- Simmer the soup with the lid on for about 20 minutes until the lentils are tender. Stir occasionally, and begin checking the lentils for done-ness at 15 minutes as cooking time can vary for the lentils. Serve with parmesan and parsley.