Hearty Butternut Squash Kale & Lentil Soup
4.22 from 37 votes

This butternut squash, kale and lentil soup recipe with dried herbs is so warming and nourishing! It’s a perfect vegan soup for when you crave something wholesome and grounding. An easy from-scratch soup that’s made in one pot and ready in about one hour!

An angled photograph of two bowls of a vegan lentil, kale, and winter squash soup, which are served with toast points.

There is truly nothing like a big, vegetable-laden pot of vegan soup.

In addition to the fact that I love soups and stews, they happen to be one of the most efficient items to include in vegan meal prep.

The Vegan Week

Embrace the joy of eating homemade food every day with the hearty and wholesome recipes in The Vegan Week.

Whether you have three, two, or even just one hour of time to spare, The Vegan Week will show you how to batch cook varied, colorful, and comforting dishes over the weekend.

Soups and stews make a lot of food. They’ll feed a family for a whole week, or they can be enjoyed now and frozen for later if you feed only one or two people.

Soups reheat easily and well. The leftovers tend to keep nicely for a while—usually, for 3-5 days.

Best of all, making vegan soups from scratch presents an excellent opportunity to work lots of vegetables, legumes, and other nutritious ingredients into meals.

One pot, endless potential

The thing about soups—and many other one-pot meals—is that they’re full of nutrition potential.

This is of course true of many types of recipes. But soups are just especially adaptable. So many vegetables, so many legumes (and other vegan proteins), so many whole grains, and oh-so-many herbs and spices will work in a pot of soup.

As a registered dietitian, I can’t help but love soups for my clients.

Many of the people I work with are relatively new to eating plant-based diets, or diets that are especially rich in vegetables. It’s not necessarily easy for them (yet) to eat a lot of vegetables salads or side dishes.

However, they’re more than happy to put a bunch of vegetables into a soup. Even leafy greens become more manageable. My very green soup is always a hit!

Likewise, eating a lot of legumes may feel out of reach for folks who aren’t used to loading up on chickpeas or lentils.

But chickpeas can be easily blended into a silky, irresistable creamy chickpea soup. And I have yet to cook for the lentil skeptic who doesn’t love my simple French lentil soup.

Basically, soup is an easy, crowd-pleasing vehicle for ingredients that might otherwise be challenging.

And for those who already adore wholesome, plant-forward ingredients, soups present endless invitations to get creative.

Butternut kale lentil soup seasonings

Herbs are the star of the show in this soup recipe. Fresh herbs are certainly an option, but I also invite you to consider dried herbs!

Dried herbs can be such a useful ingredient. Yes, it’s lovely to use fresh rosemary and thyme when they are available and you have them at home.

But I often forget to pick up herbs, honestly. Or I purchase a whole bunch and only use a little.

I know that I could come up with creative ways to use up fresh herbs. But I can (and do) also use dried herbs often in order to avoid this scenario. Here, I used bay leaf and dried thyme.

Broth or broth base will also help to season the kale & lentil soup. If you have fresh vegetable stock at home, great!

If not, your favorite store-bought broth is also fine.

One of my pantry shortcuts is always to keep broth base or bouillon around, too. There are many brands and options these days, and broth base tends to be very economical.

I also like a little savoriness, or umami, in this soup. It helps to create some of the flavors that freshly grated parmesan cheese might add.

A small plate has been covered with a savory vegan cashew parmesan cheese.

I use either nutritional yeast or my cashew parmesan cheese to help create that savoriness. Either option works well, though I find the cashew parmesan to be a little more flavorful!

Lentils for plant protein

Of course, another key component of the recipe (and its main protein source) is lentils.

This post covers some of the different types of lentils that I use often in recipes. Sometimes, a particular lentil variety will be better than others.

In the kale & lentil soup, however, you can use a variety of lentils. Brown, green, pardina (also known as Spanish), and French (also known as lentils Du Puy) lentils will all work well.

A close up photograph of a hearty vegan legume and vegetable stew, with bread poking out of the round serving bowl.

Making butternut kale & lentil soup

One of the lovely things about this soup recipe is that it can really be a beginner recipe. It’s simple and straightforward to make.

Step 1: prep

There is some prep time here, because you’ll need to chop vegetables. Chopping onion, peeling and chopping carrot, and chopping celery, along with gathering other ingredients, might take about 10 or 15 minutes.

Then, it will likely take you about 10 or 15 minutes to break down your butternut squash.

If you like, you can save yourself some time by purchasing pre-peeled and cut squash. Many grocers have pre-cut squash available nowadays.

Step 2: cook

The cook time for the kale & lentil soup is about 45 minutes, but the cooking process is fairly hands-off.

The recipe starts with sautéing onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil.

After that, you’ll add garlic and onion, herbs, broth, and butternut squash. (This is very much a “dump-things-into-your-soup-pot” type of recipe, which is my favorite kind!)

The soup needs about 30 minutes of simmering to cook the lentils. It could take a little more or less time, depending on your lentil variety and the age of the lentils you use. I recommend tasting a small, cooled portion to be sure that the lentils are ready.

At that point, you’ll add your chopped and stemmed kale to the soup pot. Give the kale another 10-15 minutes of simmering time, so that it’s entirely tender.

At that point, the soup is ready to eat or store.

Serving suggestions

I’m not fancy about serving my soup lately. A slice or two of (vegan) buttered toast is enough to keep me very, very happy.

Even so, there are other ways to go. You could serve the soup with a fresh green salad for some crunch and texture contrast. It’s nice with a grain pilaf. And it’s very lovely with a fresh made vegan dinner roll, if you have those lying around!

Finally, you might consider adding a little extra cashew parmesan to the top of the soup. A drizzle of nice finishing olive oil can be lovely, too.

Storing butternut kale & lentil soup

Soup leftovers will keep in the fridge in an airtight container for up to five days. They’re freezer friendly as well: you can freeze portions of the soup for up to 6 weeks.

Speaking of portions, this soup makes about 6 hearty servings. The recipe can be doubled, if you’re truly serving a crowd.

An angled photograph of two bowls of a vegan lentil, kale, and winter squash soup, which are served with toast points.

This soup is pure comfort. The butternut squash adds subtle sweetness, and otherwise it’s rich in savory, earthy, hearty flavors.

Thanks to tons of fiber in the soup, supplied by all of the veggies and the lentils, the soup is also really filling.

Filling, comforting, and healthful? I’d call that a win, win, win.

An angled photograph of two bowls of a vegan lentil, kale, and winter squash soup, which are served with toast points.
4.22 from 37 votes

Hearty Butternut Squash Kale & Lentil Soup

Author – Gena Hamshaw
Prep Time: 25 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes
Total Time: 1 hour
Yields: 6 servings

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced (1 lb/455g after preparation)
  • 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • 2 teaspoons dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup dry brown, green, French, or pardina lentils (200g)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 small bunch kale, stemmed and chopped (8 oz/225g after preparation)
  • 2 tablespoons cashew parmesan cheese (substitute 2 tablespoons/10g nutritional yeast)
  • Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Instructions

Prepare your ingredients

  • Peel and chop your vegetables and assemble the other soup ingredients.
    Pyrex bowls rest on a marble finish, holding chopped vegetables.
  • Heat the oil in a large pot over medium high heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion, carrots, and celery. Sauté for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and continue to cook, stirring constantly, for another minute.
    Onion, carrot, and celery is being sautéed in a large pot.
  • Add the squash, rosemary, thyme, bay leaves, lentils, and vegetable broth powder and water (or vegetable broth) to the pot. Raise the heat to high and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the pot, and simmer for 30 minutes.
    Butternut squash, vegetable broth, and herbs are simmering in a gray colored soup pot.
  • Add the kale to the pot, re-cover, and simmer for another 10-15 minutes. Stir in the nutritional yeast and season the soup to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Feel free to add a splash of water if the soup is thicker than you like. Enjoy.
    A gray soup pot is filled with a butternut kale & lentil soup.
Two slices of toast accompany round, white ceramic bowls of a hearty, plant-based winter stew. They rest on a bright, white surface.

Make the butternut kale & lentil soup tonight, enjoy easy nourishment for almost a whole week.

I hope that it becomes a keeper for you!

xo

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Categories: Recipes, Main Dishes, Stews, Soups
Method: One Pot
Ingredients: Butternut Squash, Kale, Lentils
Dietary Preferences: Gluten Free, Soy Free, Tree Nut Free, Vegan
Recipe Features: Meal Prep

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4.22 from 37 votes (34 ratings without comment)

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Recipe Rating




    11 Comments
  1. This sounds delicious! Planning to make it tomorrow. What do you suggest as a sub for nutritional yeast to achieve a similar flavor? Thanks!

    • Hi Beth, you could add a little miso to help with savoriness, but I think the recipe will also be fine if you simply omit the nutritional yeast!

  2. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious!! I love the bit of sweetness that the squash adds to this. The flavors are terrific! Will definitely make again.

  3. This looks DELICIOUS! I love how you can see the texture of all the soup – my kinda comfort food 🙂

  4. 5 stars
    Made it and it came out perfect. I am making it this week again. Deserves all 5 stars, hands down.Thank you for sharing!