Spanish lentil soup with chorizo is a hearty, flavourful and classic Spanish soup recipe. It has been passed down from generation to generation meaning every household will have their own family recipe to make ‘sopa de lentejas’ as it is known in Spanish.
This traditional lentil soup is a delicious one pot meal that combines tender lentils, smoky chorizo sausage, potatoes, carrots, celery and various aromatics into a delicious, comforting soup.
Why this recipe works
Spanish lentil soup with chorizo, also known as ‘lentejas’, or ‘sopa de lentejas’ in Spain, (‘lentejas’ being the Spanish word for lentils), is a hearty and filling one-pot meal that resembles more a stew rather than a soup.
It is a popular dish all around Spain, so when visiting Spain, do order it in a restaurant, or why not try making this lentil recipe at home. Here’s why:
- Flavour-packed: It is a comforting soup that is packed with complex flavours built in layers. Take your time so each layer can develop its flavour to the fullest. Follow the below instructions to make the most comforting and best lentil soup.
- One-pot meal: No worries about lots of dishes as this filling soup is made in one pot.
- Make ahead: Make this soup in the morning or a few days in advance. In fact, it will even taste better after standing for a few hours as the flavours will have had time to further develop. You can store this Spanish ‘sopa de lentejas’ in the fridge for up to 3 days or keep in the freezer for up to 3 months for when you need a quick, comforting meal.
- Pantry friendly ingredients: This Spanish lentil soup is made with inexpensive ingredients which you will most likely already have (or at least most of) in your pantry.
- Thick and filling: What with having legumes, vegetables and meat, this lentil soup is thick and filling so it can be had as a meal all on its own. Serve together with some baguette or similar bread. This soup is also customisable, so you can add more vegetables to make it even more filling.
Which ingredients to use
Looking at the ingredients list for making this ‘lentejas’ soup may seem long, but most of these ingredients you will probably already have in your pantry.
- Lentils: For this recipe I have used dried Spanish brown lentils or Pardina lentils. They are smallish brown-grey lentils that cook relatively quick, hold their shape well while cooking with no need to soak them in advance. Spanish Pardina lentils also have a delicious mild nutty flavour, making them perfect to use for soups and stews. Other dried lentils like green or other brown lentils can also be used to make Spanish lentejas, but check the cooking time on the packing as they might differ from the Pardina lentils used in this recipe.
- Chorizo: To make this soup I use soft cooking chorizo that will slowly release its smoky flavour and its red colour from the smoked paprika spice while cooking in to the soup leaving that typical ‘sopa de lentejas’ aroma. You can use smoked and cured chorizo sausage as well, according to personal preference.
- Onions: First sweating the onions will set the base flavour of this lentil soup. Use a normal yellow onion.
- Garlic: In Spanish cuisine you can never add too much garlic. I have used 3 cloves of garlic in this recipe, but feel free to add more or less according to personal taste.
- Carrots and celery: Both are added for extra flavour and to make this one pot meal soup more filling.
- Potatoes: Any waxy potatoes will do as they hold their shape well when cooked and won’t fall apart in the soup. Yukon Gold, Charlotte, Nicola, Red potatoes or others will be fine. However, if you prefer starchy potatoes, you can use those as well. Just keep in mind that they will likely fall apart after cooking the soup.
- Tomatoes: Adding tomatoes gives a little acidity and colour to the soup. I use fresh tomatoes, but you can use tomato concentrate or paste instead. You don’t need to peel the tomatoes when using fresh ones.
- Olive oil: The onions and other vegetables are sautéed in a splash of good quality Spanish olive oil for optimal flavour.
- Broth: Use a homemade or store-bought chicken or vegetable broth. As an alternative, use water with stock cubes. Just remember to add about 3 stock cubes to 4 cups (or 1 liter) of water.
- Bay leaves: Adding 2 bay leaves to cook in the soup creates an aromatic, mildly minty flavour.
- Smoked paprika: I use pimentón dulce or mild smoked paprika for some extra flavour. If you like it hot, add pimentón picante. Read here some more information about pimentón.
Which lentils to use
As there are many different types of lentils you may wonder what are the best lentils to use for making lentil soup from Spain.
First of all, you will want to use dried lentils as we will cook this soup as a stew in order for all the flavours to develop and combine while cooking. You will not get the same taste when adding pre-cooked lentils to this soup.
You will also want lentils that don’t break apart after cooking, which is what red lentils do. This makes red lentils great for smooth soups as they break down fairly fast, but for this soup you want lentils that hold their shape.
Some type of lentils need to be soaked for a while before cooking, which of course isn’t a problem. So any brown or green lentils will be fine for making this lentil soup. Just check on the packet about cooking times and possible soaking times before cooking.
As already mentioned, I have used Spanish Pardina lentils or Spanish brown lentils for this soup. The reason is that they don’t need to be soaked before cooking, and they maintain their shape, which is what you want for this soup. They also taste delicious.
So when using other types of lentils, keep in mind that the cooking time might differ than what is described in this recipe so you might have to adjust accordingly.
How to make lentil soup from scratch
Making a lentil soup from Spain that is full of flavour isn’t difficult at all with these easy to follow instructions:
- Rinse the lentils: Always wash lentils before using as they might still contain some debris such as dust, sand or little stones. Place the lentils in a large bowl and fill it up with cold water. Stick one or both of your hands in, scoop the lentils up, then allow them to filter through your fingers back in to the bowl. Any dirt should then float to the top. Transfer to a mesh strainer or colander and drain the water. If necessary, rinse under cold running water and drain again.
- Gather the ingredients: Peel and finely dice the onions and carrots. Mince the garlic and finely dice the celery sticks. Slice the chorizo sausage in half inch thick pieces (or 1-2cm). Peel and cube the potatoes. Dice the tomatoes.
- Prepare the sofrito: Making a sofrito is sautéing onions, carrots and celery slowly to obtain lots of flavour in order to build the base of the lentil soup. Heat olive oil in a large soup pan over medium heat and add the onions. Sauté for a few minutes until translucent. Then add the diced celery and carrots and continue sautéing over medium heat for a few minutes until they start to soften.
- Add the chorizo: Add the garlic and sliced chorizo, stir to combine and continue cooking for 5 minutes. The chorizo will slowly give off its flavour as well as the red colour of the smoked paprika contained in the sausage.
- Add the spices and the rest of the ingredients: Stir in the tomatoes, bay leaves, pimentón spice and fry for 1 minute. Then add the lentils and stir to combine. Pour in the chicken or vegetable broth and bring the mixture to a boil.
- Simmer the lentil soup: Once the soup boils, cover with a lid and turn the heat to very low. After 15 minutes add in the cubed potatoes. Cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 30 to 45 minutes until all the vegetables and the lentils are soft. Just make sure the lentils are not overcooked and too soft, they still need a bit of a bite. The total cooking time depends on the type of lentil and how fast the soup is cooking, so keep checking. If you notice that the lentils are soaking up too much liquid, add more until the desired thickness is achieved. Season with salt and pepper to taste before serving.
Frequently asked questions
Rather not. While cooking, the flavours of the ingredients develop into a delicious meal which you will not get when adding pre-cooked lentils. This you will have to do at the end of the cooking process because they are already cooked. The whole point is that all the vegetables, chorizo sausage and lentils included cook together in order to achieve maximum flavour.
Can I use other spices?
This ‘lentejas’ soup already has a lot of flavour coming from the sofrito, chorizo and the lentils. Apart from the bay leaves and smoked paprika, you could also add cumin, sweet paprika powder, parsley and a small splash of lemon juice.
Can frozen vegetables be used?
You could use frozen vegetables, like frozen celery, carrots and/or onion. Just put the heat a bit higher so the extra liquid they contain evaporates when sautéing. This is so they can caramelise and still give off the same flavour as fresh veggies.
Can I use dried chorizo sausage?
Yes you can. It’s not always that easy to find uncooked chorizo sausage, which is better for this recipe, but using a dried sausage is perfectly fine to get a great and flavourful result.
How to serve
This lentil soup with chorizo can easily be served as a full meal by itself. Just serve with crispy baguette, French loaf or farmers loaf to mop up the juices of the soup.
Or serve with a simple side salad like a green leaf salad or tomato salad.
I always make a large batch when cooking lentil soup. It’s so handy to have this comforting soup ready and cooked for a cold winter’s day or when you don’t feel like cooking at any other time, such as after a long day at the office.
After cooking, allow to cool to room temperature and store in airtight containers in the fridge for maximum 3 days. Just reheat in the microwave oven or in a pan on the stove on low temperature.
Can you freeze lentil soup? Yes you can. In fact, you will want to always have a portion of Spanish ‘lentejas’ soup in the freezer, just in case and especially during the colder months. Again, let the soup cool to room temperature, divide into smaller portions in airtight freezer-friendly containers and store in the freezer for up to 3 months.
Leave the container to thaw overnight in the fridge and heat in the microwave oven or in a pan on the stove on low temperature.
More traditional Spanish recipes to try
- Chorizo in red wine – chorizo al vino tinto
- Pisto Manchego or Spanish ratatouille
- Spanish tortilla de patatas or Spanish omelette
Spanish lentil soup with chorizo
- 1½ cups (300 grams) dried brown lentils or pardina lentils rinsed
- 9 ounces (250 grams) fresh chorizo sausage sliced in ½ inch thickness (or 1-2 cm)
- 6 cups (1½ liter) chicken broth
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 carrots peeled and finely chopped
- 2 stalks celery finely chopped
- 4 medium potatoes peeled and cubed
- 2 tomatoes chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika mild
- salt and pepper to taste
- Put the lentils in a bowl and fill it up with cold water. Filter the lentils through your fingers. Any debris or sand should come floating to the top. Transfer the lentils in a mesh strainer, then rinse well again under cold running water and let it drain.
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions for 3 minutes until translucent. Add the chopped celery and carrots and gently sauté for 5 minutes until they start to get softer.
- Then add the garlic and chorizo and gently fry for 3-5 minutes. Continue by adding the chopped tomatoes, bay leaves and smoked paprika and stir to combine. Sauté for 1 minute, then add the lentils. Cook for 3 minutes until all the ingredients are well combined.
- Pour in the chicken broth and bring the mixture to a boil. Once the liquid is boiling, reduce the heat to low, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Then, add the chopped potatoes, cover with a lid again and continue simmering for 30-45 until all the vegetables are soft and the lentils are tender but firm and still with a bit of a bite.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm.
- Soaking: No need to soak the lentils, just rinse them properly.
- Cooking time: The total cooking time will depend on the type of lentils used as well as how hot the soup is cooked. Check the instructions on the pack of the lentils you are using. Also keep checking while the lentils are cooking to ensure they maintain the desired texture.
- Thickness: If the lentils soak up too much liquid, add more broth until you get the desired thickness.
- Storage: After cooking, allow to cool to room temperature and store in an airtight container for up to 3 days in the fridge and up to 3 months in the freezer.