German lentil soup is one of those recipes my German soul craves when cooler weather hits!
Linsensuppe (the German word for this meal) is a nutrient-dense, warming meal that's filling and delicious and will feed a crowd on a budget. It's also super quick to make and counts as Eintopf (one-pot meal) since it's cooked in just one large pot.
This German soup should be high on your weeknight meal list because of how easy, delicious, and fast it is.
I love lentils, as they remind me of my Oma Sieghilde, my grandma who inspired me to start dirndl kitchen. Her Spätzle mit Linsen recipe, another German classic, was one of the first-ever recipes I posted. It's still one of my favorites to date.
Lentils are of course the star of this German lentil soup! Here is the whole ingredient list with notes.
- Lentils. I like using black or brown lentils in my German lentil soup. Black lentils keep their shape the best. Other lentils like red or yellow lentils fall apart quickly and you will end up with a thicker soup.
- Celery. In Germany, it's not as common to use stalks of celery. Most people use celery root instead, which has a milder flavor and is available to be purchased in a soup vegetable bundle in the produce section of the grocery store. It's so genius and I wish this was available in the USA. However, because celery stalks are much easier to find in the US, I also use them in this recipe. Feel free to use half of a celery root instead or about an equal amount in weight.
- Onion (or leeks). I like using yellow onion or leeks. I small dice them for this soup.
- Carrots. I peel and small dice my carrots for this soup.
- Bay leaf. I use dried bay leaf for this soup and it's one of those German pantry staples you'll use a lot.
- Tomato paste. You'll add this towards the end to help thicken the soup and give a bit of sweetness and acidity.
- Red wine vinegar. This adds the perfect amount of acidity and is something you don't want to forget to add. If you don't have red wine vinegar, use white wine vinegar or even apple cider vinegar as a substitute.
- Sugar. You'll likely add about a tablespoon of sugar at the end to help balance the acidity from the vinegar.
- Wiener sausages (or hot dogs). I love the authentic Wiener sausages from Schaller & Weber (the retail size Wiener Würstchen has no nitrates or nitrites added either). I order them online, but they're worth it and taste just like home! You can of course slice the sausages before adding them to the soup. If warming them in the soup directly, I like adding them after seasoning the soup since the Wiener Würstchen are fully cooked. When in a pinch, I use organic beef hot dogs. Instead of Wieners or hot dogs, you could use crisp bacon, pork belly, or ham.
Vegetarian lentil soup
You could totally leave out any meat and stick to only veggie broth when preparing your soup for a vegetarian version of this classic German cold-weather meal!
Go one step further and replace the butter with oil, and you have a supüer nutritious and delicious vegan meal that's naturally gluten-free.
A German Eintopf
This lentil soup is cooked in one pot and therefore is called Linseneintopf, with the 'Eintopf' portion translating to 'one-pot.' It has so many veggies in it and does not get pureed, making it more of a stew or Eintopf. Cooking everything in one pot is a super convenient and easy way to cook and helps to reduce cleanup.
Linsensuppe and other Eintopf (like this Erbsensuppe or pea soup) is the meal that goes from cooktop to table, usually served out of the pot it was cooked in. Using a pretty pot like a Le Creuset enameled pot would be a beautiful way to go from cooktop to table.
Which lentils to use in lentil soup
For this lentil soup, I would not use red or yellow lentils. Red and yellow lentils break apart into mush, so they're great for purées without having to purée anything.
Green lentils, brown lentils, and black lentils are a great choice, as they tend to keep their shape better when cooked. I used black lentils in my soup this time and they do not fall apart at all.
Do I need to soak lentils?
Lentils generally don't require any soaking and cook within 30 minutes, which is a great time-saving bonus. I simply add the lentils when I add the veggies, then let that simmer for half an hour.
Are lentils healthy?
Lentils are a seed and a type of legume that are rich in B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, potassium, and iron. I ate this German lentil soup for three days in a row and had lots of energy despite not getting much sleep.
Lentils are also packed with protein. Roughly 25% of the composition of lentils are proteins, making them a great meat alternative.
For more German lentil recipes, check out my Oma's Spätzle mit Linsen (German egg noodles with lentils).
German Lentil Soup (Linsensuppe)
- 450 grams dried lentils Black, green or brown lentils work best and keep their shape better. Red and yellow lentils fall apart. Pictured are black lentils.
- 2 Tablespoons butter can also use oil to make this soup vegan
- 600 grams potatoes I use yellow potatoes. Use the waxy kind, not the starchy kind.
- 200 grams carrots about 3 large carrots
- 200 grams celery about 3 celery stalks
- 200 grams onions or leeks 1 large onion
- 2 ½ liters vegetable broth Can also use beef broth, you could also use bouillon like I did!
- 1 bay leaf
- 6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar
- 2 Tablespoons sugar can also use maple syrup or honey instead
- 1 Tablespoon tomato paste
- parsley as garnish
- 6 Wiener sausages Schaller & Weber makes authentic Wiener sausages. You can also use crisp bacon, crisp pork belly or pieces of ham.
- Wash, dry and trim the vegetables. Small dice the carrots, celery and onion. Medium dice the potatoes.600 grams potatoes, 200 grams carrots, 200 grams celery, 200 grams onions or leeks
- Rinse the lentils in a mesh strainer and set aside.
- In a large stock pot, melt the butter and over medium heat and add the cut up vegetables and potatoes. Cook for 5ish minutes without stirring too much.2 Tablespoons butter, 600 grams potatoes, 200 grams carrots, 200 grams celery, 200 grams onions or leeks, 2 ½ liters vegetable broth, 1 bay leaf
- Add the lentils, broth and bay leaf and cover with a lid. Bring to a boil, then turn to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
- Add the vinegar, tomato paste, sugar and season to taste with salt and pepper.6 Tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 Tablespoons sugar, 1 Tablespoon tomato paste, 450 grams dried lentils
- If you would like to add the Wiener sausages, you could either slice them up and at them at this point to simply warm up (they're already cooked). Or you can warm them separately in a pot of water (do not boil or the skin will crack).6 Wiener sausages
- Serve and garnish with fresh parsley and some good bread such as my German rye sourdough. Guten Appetit!parsley