Lentil Soup

Sopa de Lentejas

Lentil soup is enjoyed throughout Mexico. Enjoy our hearty version prepared with sautéed onions, carrots, tomatoes, and bacon. It’s a meal in itself or a great side dish when served in smaller portions.

Bowl of Mexican Lentil soup with Tomato Carrot Garnish

It keeps well in the refrigerator so you can prepare it and enjoy it all week long.

Bowl of Authentic Mexican Lentil Soup

How to Make

Our Mexican lentil soup recipe is an easy weeknight dish and all of the ingredients are pantry staples.

The traditional way to prepare this dish is with chicken stock but if you would like to make this vegan, just substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth and omit the bacon.

Ingredients

Start by gathering your ingredients.

  • 1 lb. green lentils
  • 2 qts. chicken broth (homemade or low-sodium), or vegetable broth, or water
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 1 large white onion
  • 3 medium carrots
  • 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 8 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt + to taste
  • water as needed
Ingredients to Make Mexican Lentil Soup

Start by Preparing the Lentils

In this recipe, we cook the lentils on the stovetop but they turn out really well cooked in an Instant Pot.

Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes.

Lentils Soaking in Water

After 30 minutes, drain the water from the lentils and rinse under cold water.

Drained Lentils in Colander

Place the lentils in a large pot. Add the 2 quarts of chicken broth and 1/2 of the white onion.

Lentils in Chicken Broth

On high bring to a boil. When the lentils have come to a boil reduce the heat to medium. Remove any foam that forms.

Removing Foam from Cooking Soup

Add 1 tsp. salt.

Adding Salt to Lentil Soup

Next Prepare the Bacon

While the lentils are cooking you need to prepare the bacon. Choose your favorite brand. You can substitute 6 ounces of ham for the bacon. Brown it the same as you would the bacon.

Strip of Bacon in Cook's Hand

Cut the strips of bacon in half. Cutting the bacon this way adds a rustic touch to the dish. You can also finely chop the bacon if you prefer.

Bacon Frying in Pan

Cook the bacon until it has started to brown on both sides. Don’t cook it until it’s crispy because it will continue to cook in the soup and you want the bacon to give off some of its fat which builds flavor.

Browned Bacon in Frying Pan

Add Bacon

Add the browned bacon to the lentils and continue cooking over medium heat.

Adding Bacon to Lentil Soup Cooking on Stove

Remove the onion and discard.

Removing Onion From Lentil Soup

Then Prepare the Vegetables

While the lentils continue to cook, you will prepare the vegetables. Many cooks add the vegetables directly to the lentils without sautéing them which tastes great but when you cook them in olive oil first you build more depth of flavor.

Peel and chop the carrots into 1/4 in. pieces.

Diced Carrots on Cutting Board

Chop the onion into 1/4 in. pieces.

Diced Onion on Cutting Board

Remove the seeds and chop the tomatoes into 1/4 in. pieces.

Diced Tomato on Cutting Board

Preheat 3 tbsp. olive oil to medium-hot.

Preheating Olive Oil in a Pan

Add the onion first and cook for 3 minutes until the onions just start to become translucent.

Cooking Diced Onion in Olive Oil

Add the carrots and cook for 3 more minutes.

Cooking Carrots and Onions in Olive Oil

Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are just starting to break apart.

Carrots, Onion, Tomatoes Cooking in Frying Pan

The vegetable mixture should look like this.

Cooking Vegetables in Olive Oil

Add Vegetables to Soup

Add the onion, carrot, tomato mixture to the lentils and stir.

Adding Vegetables to Lentil Soup

Then add the sprigs of cilantro and stir.

Adding Cilantro to Lentil Soup

The soup is almost ready. It’s starting to look really good.

Mexican Lentil Soup Simmering on Stove

Cook your lentils for 10 more minutes. Add water one cup at a time if the soup is too thick. Taste and add salt if needed before serving.

Pot of Mexican Lentil Soup on Stove

Serving

Serve your Mexican Lentil soup with a stack of warm corn tortillas or bolillos, a type of airy French roll enjoyed all over Mexico.

Bowl of Mexican Lentil Soup with Vegetables on Side

Provecho!

Bowl of Authentic Mexican Lentil Soup
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4.67 from 6 votes

Mexican Lentil Soup Recipe

Authentic Mexican lentil soup, sopa de lentejas, prepared with sautéed onions, carrots, tomatoes, and bacon. An easy weeknight recipe made with pantry staples.
Course Main Dish, Soup / Stew
Cuisine Mexican
Keyword Lentil soup recipe, lentils, Mexican soup recipe
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour
Servings 8 bowls
Calories 375kcal
Author Douglas Cullen

Equipment

  • Large pot
  • Cutting board
  • Kitchen knife
  • Vegetable peeler
  • Strainer

Ingredients

  • 1 lb. lentils green
  • 2 qts. chicken broth homemade or low-sodium
  • 6 strips bacon
  • 1 white onion large
  • 3 carrots medium
  • 3 Roma (plum) tomatoes
  • 6 sprigs cilantro
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 tsp. salt + as needed to taste

Instructions

Preparing the Lentils

  • Soak the lentils in water for 30 minutes then drain the water from the lentils and rinse under cold water.
  • Place the lentils in a large pot. Add the 2 quarts of chicken broth and 1/2 of the white onion.
  • On high bring to a boil. When the lentils have come to a boil reduce the heat to medium. Add 1 tsp. salt. Remove any foam that forms.

Preparing the Bacon

  • Cut the strips of bacon in half. 
  • In a medium-hot pan, cook the bacon until it has started to brown on both sides.
  • Add the browned bacon to the lentils and continue cooking over medium heat. Remove the half onion from the lentils and discard.

Preparing the Vegetables

  • Peel and chop the carrots into 1/4 in. pieces.
  • Chop the onion into 1/4 in. pieces.
  • Remove the seeds and chop the tomatoes into 1/4 in. pieces.
  • Preheat 3 tbsps. olive oil to medium hot. Add the onion first and cook for 3 minutes until the onions just start to become translucent.
  • Add the carrots and cook for 3 more minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are just starting to break apart.
  • Add the onion, carrot, tomato mixture, and the sprigs of cilantro to the lentils and stir.

Finishing the Soup

  • Cook your lentils for 10 more minutes. Add water one cup at a time if the soup is too thick. Taste and add salt if needed before serving.

Notes

  • The lentils can be cooked in an Instant Pot.
  • Finely chop the bacon if you prefer.
  • You can substitute 6 ounces of ham for the bacon. Prepare the same as bacon.
  • To make this soup vegan, just substitute vegetable broth or water for the chicken broth and omit the bacon or ham.
  • It will keep in the refrigerator for 5 days.

Nutrition

Calories: 375kcal | Carbohydrates: 42g | Protein: 22g | Fat: 14g | Saturated Fat: 3g | Cholesterol: 11mg | Sodium: 441mg | Potassium: 935mg | Fiber: 18g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 4150IU | Vitamin C: 8mg | Calcium: 54mg | Iron: 5mg

More Mexican Soup Recipes

Mexico has so many delicious soups. Here are some of our favorites. Give them all a try.

1 comment… add one
  • Alex Y

    I tried this recipe tonight and it was my first time to ever cook lentils. I must say this recipe is amazing! My whole family ate it up so quick. I did substitute jalapeños for the tomatoes in this recipe since some in my family do not like tomatoes. I sautéed the veggies in the leftover bacon grease instead of olive oil. I also added more bacon and more cilantro to our tastes. I chopped most of the bacon and left some in halves. It was quite thick at the end so I did add another cup of water and a teaspoon of chicken broth base. Seriously we were all totally impressed. This is one for the recipe book! Thanks Mexican Food Journal!

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