Lentil Soup (Φακές )

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one beautiful bowl of beans

A folk saying goes “Fasolatha pou trefi tin Ellada”, loosely translated “The whole of Greece is brought up on bean soup”. One taste of this amazing lentil soup recipe you’ll know why!

A traditional and delicious favorite, lentil soup or Φακές is simple to make and quick to assemble. This recipe gives you the option to rough chop your vegetables and herbs, bringing your prep time down to around 15 minutes with the soup itself taking about 30-40 minutes to cook. Your cooking time will depend on how you like your lentils and how long your potatoes/carrots take to become fork tender. I prefer my lentils with a bit of texture left but not chewy and not mushy. Taste from 25 minutes on to find what you like best.  

ingredients for lentil soup

ingredients for lentil soup

Red potatoes work well with this recipe as they absorb the flavors nicely. I often don’t peel them before adding to the recipe. This adds more vitamins/fiber to the dish, takes time off your prep work and adds another layer of texture that I really enjoy. And yellow onions are my favorite here and being able to rough chop both the garlic and onions is a treat.

lentils, herbs, spices

lentils, herbs, spices

I do peel the carrots. Just remember, when using carrots as small as the ones picture above, peel very gently as a good swipe could take off half the carrot. In a pinch, I’ve substituted frozen carrots for fresh. They work well in any variety crinkle cut to diced. When using frozen, either thaw ahead of time or use right out of the freezer – just give your soup a few minutes extra to return to a simmer after adding them frozen.

add potatoes and carrots last

add potatoes and carrots last

A fun touch is to add homemade baked soup croutons. I use whatever sliced bread is on hand, a sturdier white or wheat work best and cut shapes with seasonal cookie or biscuit cutters.

Traditionally, Greek’s will drizzle olive oil over the top of their bowls and add a splash of red wine vinegar.  Serve with a piece of crusty bread and a large spoon.


  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  •  1 cup chopped onions
  • 1/3 cup chopped garlic
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste disolved in 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1 cup brown lentils
  • 2 cups cubed potatoes
  • 1 cup cubed carrots
  • 3 tbsp fresh chopped dill
  • 2 tbsp dried Greek oregano
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt/fresh ground black pepper
  • 6 cups water
  • red wine vinegar optional

In a 3 qt saucepan, saute onions in olive oil until almost translucent. Add garlic, saute until just soft being careful not to burn. Add tomatoes paste in water, dill/oregano, salt/pepper and stir. Cook gently together for 3-4 minutes letting the flavors come together. Add lentils and cook gently another 3-4 minutes. Add potatoes, carrots and water. Mix well and bring soup  to a low rolling simmer.  Cook, uncovered, for 30-40 minutes or until potatoes and carrots are fork tender. Stir occasionally while cooking. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serves 4 adults a meal sized portions.

lentil soup with red wine vinegar and fresh ground black pepper

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19 Responses to Lentil Soup (Φακές )

  1. Eva Bakogiorgas February 6, 2014 at 4:34 am #

    Hello again, i make this soup very often, its one of my favorites. I find two tablespoons of oregano is too much as it gives a bitter flavor. My grandma used to add a spring or oregano, and remove in the end. What i do when the soup is done I add a tablespoon full ( or two depending on how much soup i make) of red wine vinegar. You would be surprised what it does to the flavor. Thanks for the great recipes!!!

    • Kiki February 7, 2014 at 4:07 am #

      Hi Eva, I like the idea of adding the spring of oregano and removing, definitely going to try it! And thanks for bringing up the red wine vinegar. I usually have a small pitcher on the table so everyone can add to their taste – not sure why I didn’t add that to this blog post as well. Going to add it now, really does bring up the flavors another notch doesn’t it? Thanks again for reminding me, Kiki 🙂

  2. Katie S. October 23, 2014 at 10:14 am #

    I made this last night, and it was SO delicious. I only used about a 1/4 of the oregano recommended, because it can be too much for me. I LOVED the red wine vinegar – it really made the dish perfect. We had this with a Greek salad and some (vegan) buttered rye bread. It was perfect for a cold night. I will definitely be making this again. Thanks so much for the great recipe, Kiki!

    • Kiki October 23, 2014 at 6:22 pm #

      Katie, so glad you liked it! The red wine vinegar really does add that extra pop of flavor doesn’t it? And understand completely about the oregano – full disclosure: I can be a bit of an oreganoholic myself 🙂

  3. Katie S. October 24, 2014 at 11:53 am #

    I can relate – I’m a dill-aholic myself and have to restrain myself for my other family members. I still have leftovers of this soup and can’t wait to have more tonight. 🙂

  4. Sophie October 27, 2014 at 5:54 pm #

    Great recipe ! I love this soup, thank you !

  5. Jean April 24, 2015 at 9:09 pm #

    This is a beautiful recipe – smells and tastes of authentic Greek cooking. The recipe followed exactly is perfect as is. I think the reason so many Australian modifiications of recipes make the whole thing weaker and less flavourful is because we hesitate to add the herbs and spices in the stated amounts. Often it is worth keeping an open mind and trying the actual recipe first, before modifying it. Love the Greek Vegan!

  6. Arleen Winegar May 17, 2015 at 8:09 pm #

    I love lentil soup. I am so,looking forward to trying your recipe. All your recipes look so good. Can’t wait to try most of them. Thank you

  7. Denyce October 5, 2015 at 9:23 pm #

    Thank you for this recipe 🙂 Can’t wait to try it! Regret not having learned all y mom’s recipes before she passed 3 yrs ago 🙁 In regards to the lentils, should I be soaking them for a few hours before hand? I tried a couple of Indian recipes that called for green lentils, and they just would not cook through no matter how long i boiled them! They remained hard and inedible. Pls advise. Thank you!

    • Kiki October 5, 2015 at 10:45 pm #

      Hi Denyce! I don’t soak my lentils at all, just add them right to the pot. Brown lentils are fine with this cooking method and are tender and yummy every time 🙂 It certainly wouldn’t hurt the beans if you did want to soak them. Just consider cutting back your cooking time if you do. let me know what you think when you make them? Kiki xx

  8. Heather December 15, 2015 at 10:41 am #

    This looks so good but my husband hates dill. What do you think would be a good substitute for it?

    • Kiki December 15, 2015 at 8:01 pm #

      I love lentil soup with fresh thyme stalks if there’s no dill in the fridge. It’s a really nice complement to the overall earthiness of the dish too 🙂

  9. Alex March 9, 2017 at 5:02 pm #

    How much red wine vinegar to use and when do you add it?

    • Kiki March 9, 2017 at 9:03 pm #

      many people love to drizzle red wine vinegar over their fakes right before eating. that way, each person adds as much as they would like 🙂

  10. Laura Hendren October 10, 2017 at 7:27 pm #

    Hi Kiki, I’m new to your site. I was 16 (45 years ago) when I went to a Greek restaurant in San Francisco, CA. I still to this day remember I went back to that restaurant 2 more times in the 3 days total I was there just to have the lentil soup. I hope this is as authentic and tasty as I remember. Thank you for the note about the red wine vinegar because I remember the twang to this day. It is what brought that 16 year old unseasoned palate back!! Can’t wait!!

  11. Randa November 28, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Have you tried this recipe with red lentils? How do you think it would be?

    • Kiki November 28, 2017 at 8:44 pm #

      I personally wouldn’t use red lentils here as I believe they’d end up being too mushy! brown lentils hold their shape better in my experience 🙂

  12. Gayle June 10, 2018 at 1:15 pm #

    Would it be possible to reduce the olive oil to 2 tbsps. (for those of us struggling with weight) or would it reduce the richness and velvetiness of the soup?

    • Kiki June 15, 2018 at 9:41 am #

      as a fellow struggler, i would say yes but be careful that the onions and garlic don’t burn 🙂

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