Hearty Lentil Soup with Meatballs is the ultimate meal-in-one soup that is delicious, freezer friendly and family friendly!
Are you more into creamy/pureed soups, or do you prefer chunky soups? Personally, I love pureed soups – I find them to be very comforting. But there’s definitely always a place for a hearty, chunky, thick soups.
When I got married, I discovered that my husband vastly prefers a hearty chunky soup to a smooth soup, so I’ve been greatly expanding my repertoire of chunky soups. I also discovered that of all the soups, lentils seem to be a real favorite of my husband. So I was trying to think about an amazing new lentil soup recipe that he would enjoy.
In these cold winter months, my husband and I love to have a soup that’s a full dinner in a bowl. So I was thinking about lentil soup. And I was thinking about a full meal in a bowl. So I thought about making a recipe for hearty lentil soup with meatballs. If you’ve ever wondered where I get my recipe ideas from, this one is not a very exciting story. I was in the freezer section of my local grocery store, looking for veggies to keep in my freezer for those days when I haven’t been to the grocery in a while and I need some veggies to make for dinner. My eyes fell on a bag of frozen kale and everything kind of fell into place. A hearty lentil soup, with added kale for flavor and additional heartiness. And meatballs for flavor, protein and the full meal factor.
And let me tell you, this soup was everything I hoped for, and then some. It’s comfort food in a bowl, it’s hearty and delicious. It’s packed with flavor. It’s the ultimate wintertime dinner. Or year round, because let’s be real. Soup this good just should not be relegated to a few months out of the year!
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FAQ About Hearty Lentil Soup with Meatballs
Scroll past the FAQ to get to the recipe.
Can I make this Hearty Lentil Soup with Meatballs without the kale?
Yes! While we loved the heartiness and flavor that the kale added to this lentil meatball soup, it will be delicious without the kale as well. And thanks to the lentils, this hearty lentil soup with meatballs will be rich and hearty, kale or not!
Can I use something else instead of kale in this recipe?
Absolutely! Chopped spinach is a great replacement for the kale in this recipe, if you prefer the flavor of spinach instead of kale. Make sure to squeeze out as much of the excess liquid as possible to keep the soup from getting too liquidy.
Can I use ground chicken or turkey instead of ground meat in the meatballs?
Yes, you can. You may need to add some extra binder, like flour or breadcrumbs, to help hold the meatballs together. The texture won’t be quite the same as beef, but it will definitely work!
You can also use a mix of ground chicken/turkey and ground beef, which is sold at many kosher butchers, mine included.
Can I skip the meatballs in this soup?
Absolutely! The meatballs definitely add protein to the soup and it’s a great way to make this soup a full meal. However, it’s great as a parve/meatless soup as well!
Another option is to remove some of the soup to have without the meatballs, then add meatballs to just some of it.
Can I add any vegetables instead of or in addition to the ones listed?
You sure can! I kept this recipe to basic aromatic veggies traditionally used as a soup base, but you can definitely add your favorites. Some good options include: zucchini, mushrooms, sweet potato, parsnip, butternut squash, peas, and whatever else you like!
Can I make this in a crockpot?
Absolutely! This Hearty Lentil Soup with Meatballs can be made well in the crockpot.
I would recommend sauteeing the vegetables, then adding them to the crockpot and follow the rest of the recipe as directed. Make sure there’s enough liquid in the crockpot, especially if it’s going to be cooking for an extended period of time.
Can I make this soup in an instant pot?
I’m sure this would work nicely in an instant pot, but I don’t have enough experience with an instant pot to give you exact instructions. If you try it, please share on what you did so I can pass the information on to others!
Can I freeze this Lentil Soup with meatballs?
You sure can! It freezes really well in an airtight container. I like to freeze this in single portion containers (I like to use 16 ounce containers) for a quick meal that I can defrost as needed.
What can I add to make this Lentil Soup with Meatballs into a full meal?
This soup is so filling and hearty, it’s really a meal all on its own! The only thing I would suggest adding to this is a slice or two of nice crust bread – some sourdough or a baguette would be perfect!
Can I add fresh kale instead of frozen kale?
Yes, you absolutely can! I would suggest shredding the kale to make sure it combines really nicely and cohesively into the soup.
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- 1 bag (16 oz) red lentils
- 2 Tablespoons oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt, divided
- 2 carrot, diced
- 5 stalks celery, diced
- 5 cloves garlic, minced
- 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth
- 4 cups water
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 Tablespoon dried parsley
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 lb frozen shredded kale, defrosted
- 1 lb ground beef
- 2 Tablespoon dried minced onion
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt¼ teaspoon black pepper
- Soak lentil in a large bowl of water for at least an hour, up to overnight. (If you don't have time to soak the lentils, you can skio this step but you may need extra water and cook time.)
- In a large soup pot, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add onion and half of the salt. Cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes, until softened.
- Add carrots, celery and garlic. Reduce heat to medium-low. Continue to cook for about 10 minutes, until vegetables are softened.
- Add broth, water, lentils, remaining salt, thyme, parsley and bay leaves. Bring mixture to a boil.
- Simmer for one hour. Add kale.
- Meanwhile, prepare meatballs: combine all ingredients in a medium bowl until mixed.
- Return soup to a boil. Form meat mixture into balls and add to boiling soup.
- Reduce soup to a simmer and cook for an additional 30 minutes, until meatballs are cooked through.
Plan Ahead: Soup can be frozen in an airtight container.
Some more soup recipes you might want to try:
More Meal-in-One Ideas:
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Thanks for stopping by! I know you’ll love this soup! Come back soon for more delicious food! – Miriam
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