How to Cook Lentils for Simple Healthy Thanksgiving Leftover Meal

Leftover cooked lentil recipes

I love lentil soup. What is not loving? It is filling, healthy and easy to make. He had been enjoying lentil soup for years. Then my son Roan started making lentil soup, showed me a whole new way to cook lentils and my world changed.

Elegant table with crystal glasses and gold cutlery and bowl of lentil soup

I had never tasted anything better in my entire life


Even if you don’t like lentil soup, be prepared to love this recipe.

And, did I mention how healthy lentils are? It’s the perfect meal to cook the day after Thanksgiving when you want to start your new resolution to eat healthier.

Our lentil soup recipe is also the perfect way to use whatever turkey broth you have left.

Abundant and healthy brown lentil soup served in a white bowl with gold utensils

Lentils Random data


you know….


  • That lentils are the oldest cultivated legume in the world, probably domesticated around 7000 BC
  • .

  • They are also the easiest bean to digest.
  • And lentils are the only bean that technically doesn’t need pre-soaking and has an extremely short preparation time.

Not convinced? Keep reading!

Let’s answer some questions on how to cook

lentils before we start.

Is it necessary to soak lentils before cooking?

No, lentils don’t need to be soaked like beans. They become soft enough just by cooking. However, they should be rinsed and sorted (looking for stones) before cooking.

However, there are other reasons why you may want to soak lentils before cooking.

What are the reasons to soak lentils before cooking?

Lentils contain antinutrients called lectins and phytates that can interfere with nutrient absorption. Soaking lentils ahead of time neutralizes these compounds.

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Thanksgiving-ready lentil soup as a healthy option

How long should you soak lentils?

The answer to this question will vary depending on the type of lentil but 2-4 hours is the general answer. If you want to shorten the time, bring the lentils to a boil and turn off the heat by letting them soak for an hour before cooking.

Are lentils healthy?

Well, I think we already know the answer to this. Yes, they are. They are full of protein, nutrients, and fiber.

What are the differences between red, brown and green lentils?

  • Red, yellow and split lentils dissolve faster when cooked and create a smoother soup
  • . Both

  • green and brown lentils retain their shape more when cooked.
  • Black beluga lentils are not as common as other types of lentils, but they are known to be the tastiest of the varieties
  • .

  • Although colors can vary from reddish orange, coral, gold to slate green, brown and black and each has its own unique textures and flavors, they all share essentially the same or similar nutritional profile.

Can lentils be cooked in stock? Yes, you want to cook lentils


a ratio of 3-1 liquid to lentils. You can use part water and part chicken or vegetable broth to give the lentils an extra flavor. Or you can substitute all the liquid for chicken, turkey or vegetable broth as we suggest in this recipe. Boil the broth and cook the lentils for about 15-20 minutes to get tender lentils.

Lentil soup served in a white bowl and placed on a fancy board

Tips: How to cook


  • Don’t add anything acidic like tomatoes, vinegar, or other acids to the pot before the lentils are fully cooked because they cook slowing down the cooking process and you could end up with lentils Crispy.
  • The best seasoning ideas are cumin, coriander, cinnamon, turmeric, and vegetables like onions, carrots, and celery.
  • Add a teaspoon of oil to the pot to prevent foaming from forming.
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Roan’s Delicious Lentejil Soup

3 tablespoons

  • extra virgin olive oil
  • 3 medium carrots, chopped 1

  • medium onion, diced
  • 1-2 celery stalks,

  • chopped salted
  • pepper
  • 2

  • tablespoons tomato paste
  • 2-3 garlic cloves,
  • chopped
  • 1

  • 1/2 cups dried brown lentils
  • 4 cups

  • leftover turkey broth (you can substitute vegetable or chicken broth if desired) 4 cups
  • water
  • 7 thyme sticks, peeled
  • leaves 1/2 teaspoon

  • dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander seeds 1/4 teaspoon crushed

  • red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin

  • 3 or 4 bay leaves
  • 1

  • teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1/2 lemon juice (2

  • tablespoons
  • )

  • 1/2 cup flat leaf (Italian) chopped parsley, extra to garnish


Rinse and sort lentils


Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat.

Add chopped carrots, onions and celery and 1 teaspoon of salt. Salt helps break down vegetables.

Heat until onions are caramelized. About 8-10 min.

Add the tomato paste and garlic.

Cook another couple of minutes.


  • lentils, broth, 4 cups of water and all spices,
  • lemon zest
  • .

  • Generous amount of salt and pepper to taste.

Boil the broth, stir and cover


Cook the lentils and simmer for about 25-30 minutes


Remove the bay leaves


Use an immersion blender to mix some of the lentils. Don’t do too much mixing. You want some lentils to be retailed in their full form. You just want to create some creaminess for the soup with the blender.

If you don’t have an immersion blender, you can also do it with a food processor or a regular blender. Take 2 1/2 cups and puree. Make sure you have an open vent on top to allow steam to escape or you’ll end up with an explosive mess on your hands. We discovered this the hard way. Replace the soup.

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Add lemon juice and parsley.

Serve in bowls. Garnish with more parsley.

brown lentils in white bowl with Italian parsley garnish on top

Thanksgiving Lentil Soup

My family also loves serving lentil soup on our Thanksgiving menu. We serve it along with the cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes. Our Thanksgiving family reunion is sometimes 40 or more people, so the menu is wide and varied.

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