Greek Lentil Soup

Greek Lentil Soup |

This past weekend, I traveled to Detroit for my grandma Lillian’s “unveiling”. An unveiling is an America Jewish custom. After someone is buried, their gravestone is covered for up to a year. Then, the family gathers to remove the covering, and to commemorate the life of the deceased.

Most of my dad’s family has always lived in Detroit. I’ve been making trips there every year or so for as long as I have been alive, sharing events such as the Jewish holidays, Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, weddings, and more with my grandparents (who’ve now both passed on), aunts, uncles, and cousins.

I stay with my aunt Beverly and my uncle Hadley pretty much every time I visit. They’re the sweetest people, and boy do they know how to feed a crowd.

I do not ever recall a time when I’ve been in Detroit and when there was not a brunch at their home. A brunch with platters stacked high with warm bagels surrounded by perfect white orbs of cream cheese. Trays filled with salty, melt in your mouth delicious lox, and generous chunks of fabulous smoked sable. Creamy, rich tuna and whitefish salads. Juicy ripe tomatoes, crisp cucumbers, and piles of sliced onions. Neatly arranged hard boiled eggs and an array of tasty cheeses. And the sweets: chocolate and apple babkas. Seven layer cake. Mandlebrot. Macaroons.

These are not foods I eat very often…but they’re foods I look forward to with great anticipation when it’s time for a family get-together in Detroit. I try not to stuff my self silly when I come face to face with those platters, but it’s so hard not to. It’s all so good…

I got home from Detroit last night. Though I had packed all the dreamy Jewish foods above into my belly earlier in the day, I didn’t have any dinner, and was starving when I walked through my door after the two hour drive from the airport at 11:30 pm. I’d made and photographed this Greek Lentil Soup late last week, and was so grateful there was some left over to gobble before heading to bed.

This vegetarian soup, my version of the Greek soup known as Fakes, can be served hot or cold: it’s perfect for when you’re looking for a light and nourishing meal. While I love all of the Greek-inspired embellishments (the parsley, roasted red pepper, and the feta), you could certainly eat it without them if you’re just looking for a basic lentil soup. If you like the idea of the toppings and you avoid dairy, chopped Kalamata olives would make a good salty substitute for the feta.

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Greek Lentil Soup |

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Greek Lentil Soup


  • *2 tablespoons olive oil
  • *1 yellow onion peeled and chopped
  • *2 cloves garlic peeled and chopped
  • *1 stalk celery finely chopped
  • *2 scrubbed carrots peeled if not organic, finely chopped
  • *2 cups green lentils
  • *6-8 cups homemade vegetable stock or water or use chicken stock of you don't need it to be vegetarian
  • *5-6 plum tomatoes I used organic ones from my garden, but you could also use canned tomatoes
  • *2 tablespoons each olive oil and red wine vinegar plus more for drizzling on top of the finished soup
  • *chopped flat-leaf parsley- for garnish use as much as you like
  • *chopped roasted red peppers I used the jarred kind- for garnish (use as much as you like)
  • *crumbled feta cheese- for garnish use as much as you like
  • *freshly ground black pepper to taste


  • 1. Rinse and pick over the lentils in a colander over the sink.
  • 2. In a large pot, saute onions and garlic in olive oil over medium heat for a minute or two.
  • 3. Add the chopped celery and carrots and cook, stirring them around, for a minute or two more.
  • 4. Add lentils and stir well, then add the stock or water and the tomatoes. I like to start with the 6 cup amount of liquid and add more later, if necessary. Bring to a boil.
  • 5. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 1- 1/2 hours, or until lentils are very tender. Again, add more stock or water if the soup gets too thick.
  • 6. Remove from heat and stir in the two tablespoons of olive oil and vinegar. Spoon the soup into bowls and top with chopped parsley, roasted red peppers, feta cheese, and black pepper before serving.

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33 thoughts on “Greek Lentil Soup”

  1. I am planning on making this recipe for our school’s Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. Can you tell me approx. how many servings this recipe yields?


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  7. We recently stocked up on lentils, so I’ve been on the hunt for delicious lentil recipes. I’ll try anything that calls for feta :)

  8. I love simple and hearty soups like this. The lentils would make this a light, yet filling meal. This would be a welcome dish after a long trip home.

  9. This looks like such a healthy, hearty soup. Perfect after a weekend of indulgences! Thank you for making me smile. I love visiting your blog before I head to work. It is a great start to my long day. Much love and many blessings from Austin!

  10. I was just leaving a comment over at Guilty Kitchen about how I love new inspiration for vegetarian dishes… And then this was the next post that came up in my RSS reader. I love the flavors in this soup. I can always use some new ideas for meatless meals. Looking forward to adding this one to the menu!

    • This is a pretty simple soup made more interesting and tasty by a few toppings…would be great with a side of warm pitas for dinner…hope you give it a try, Jen!

  11. Wow, that’s one beautiful soup. I love lentils and I’m always looking for ways to change up our traditional lentil soup recipe. I like the olive topping suggestion too.

  12. I am not a lover of lentils; however, your recipe looks very palatable and is summoning me to try it. I think i actually will! Thanks for sharing.

  13. This sounds absolutely addicting, Winnie. Lovely photos too, as always. I’ve got some plum tomatoes and fresh oregano in my garden that would be great in this dish.

  14. What a wonderful looking soup – the colours are just gorgeous. I also hadn’t heard of the unveiling before but I think it’s lovely to be able to celebrate someone’s life in that way, thank you for sharing.

    • Thanks Kathryn! It’s interesting because I was sort of grumbling about going on the trip but once I was there I was so glad.

  15. Your photographs of this soup are beautiful Winnie! I’m sure a bowl of this hit the spot for you last evening. So nice of you to share some of your Grandmother Lillian’s unveiling weekend with us. I too, have never heard about this Jewish tradition before this post and I think it is a lovely one. Your Aunt Beverly and Uncle Hadley sound like perfect hosts for family gatherings and it’s easy to see why you enjoy going back whenever you can to spend time with them.

  16. wow – your time away sounds incredible and very nourishing – not just for the body but also for the soul. i love the sound of this soup because anything labeled “greek” entices me. delicious!

  17. It’s so interesting to learn about your culture Winnie. I had never heard of an unveiling before. It’s good to hear you had a great time celebrating life and death with your family. That lentil soup looks so simple and yummy. Perfect for this time of year. Thanks for sharing!

    • Well if there’s one thing we Jews know how to do it’s how to celebrate with food :) The unveiling wasn’t really connected to the soup, but I tried to tie them together…glad you like it!