Cheesy Red Lentil Soup


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two bowls of cheesy red lentil soup on a yellow background with parsley on top
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Looking to use up your excess pantry staples? Try our cheesy red lentil soup.

What is cheesy red lentil soup?

I know what you’re thinking, “Why would you put cheese in lentils?” This soup is a little more on the American side of midwest savory goodness as opposed to the traditional Mediterranean or Cuban lentil soup. If you’re looking for a cumin-forward soup, feel free to check out our black bean lentil soup. It’s delicious and also uses a handful of pantry ingredients.

Anyways, back to lentils and cheese. Let’s be real, the cheese in this isn’t cheese. It’s just nutritional yeast. The soup also contains coconut milk which brings out the richness. Cheesy lentil soup definitely hits the spot if you’re craving something salty, creamy, cheesy, and soupy. 

What ingredients are in cheesy lentil soup?

Let’s start with the pulses. In addition to red lentils, cheesy lentil soup also contains yellow split peas. Yellow split peas are a really great source of protein if you’re looking to up your intake. One cup of dry peas contains 48 grams! Red lentils are equally as high in protein containing 50 grams of protein per cup.

While red lentils and yellow split peas are the two main shelf-stable ingredients in cheesy red lentil soup, there are a handful of other ingredients required that I bet you have on hand like coconut milk, red wine vinegar, vegetable broth, and extra virgin olive oil. If you don’t have red wine vinegar on hand, you can use a splash of red wine, white wine, or sub out with equal parts champagne vinegar. 

ingredients spread of red lentils, yellow split peas, potatoes, carrots, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, garlic, spices, red wine vinegar, coconut milk, extra virgin olive oil, and an onion against a bright yellow background

Next, you’ll need dried spies. Cheesy lentil soup calls for a few including onion powder, nutritional yeast, herbes de provence, sea salt and fresh cracked pepper. If you don’t have herbes de provence on hand just sub out for Italian seasoning and add some dried rosemary and thyme and that should be close enough. We’re definitely not picky around here as long as it tastes good.

Lastly, you’ll need some produce. At the very least you’ll need onion and garlic, but if you have a couple of carrots and small waxy potatoes, I recommend including them in the soup. 

How do you make cheesy lentil soup?

The most wonderful thing about soup is that you can set it and (mostly) forget it. Start out by breaking out a large pot or dutch oven and add extra virgin olive oil and finely chopped onion. Sauté the onions until translucent, about five minutes and then add your garlic. Sweat those out for an additional two minutes and then add the potatoes and carrots. 

A few minutes later, add the red wine vinegar, scraping the bottom of the pot with a spatula to deglaze. Once the red wine vinegar evaporates, add the rinsed lentils and peas, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a low simmer and cook covered for an hour and forty-five minutes. You’ll have to visit the soup occasionally to scrape the bottom with a spatula to ensure no burning occurs. 

As you cook the soup, you will have to add 1-2 additional cups of water to thin it out, so watch your yellow split peas. If they’re not cooked thoroughly and you’re running low on the coconut milk and vegetable broth mixture, you’ll know it’s time to add the water. 

a dutch oven filled with sautéed onion, garlic, potato, and carrots against a bright yellow background

Once your yellow split peas are fully cooked, All you need to do is add the dried spices and stir to incorporate. Serve with fresh curly parsley if you’re after some color. Alternatively, my boyfriend likes to put Trader Joes Italian Bomba Hot Pepper Sauce on top. 

Can I make cheesy red lentil soup in an Instant pot?

The short answer is yes. The long answer is, I honestly haven’t had any time to experiment with the settings and how long it might need to run to ensure the yellow split peas are fully cooked through. If you are smarter than me and have a tried and true method, I would love to hear it! I’ll test the process myself and add the steps if it ends up working out. 

Is lentil soup good for you? 

Yes! Lentil soup is extremely good for you. This specific recipe packs in 17 grams of protein per cup. Not bad, right? Between the peas, lentils, and nutritional yeast, you get a decent amount of protein along with the good fat from the olive oil and coconut milk. This is more of a lunchtime meal for us and we usually eat 1.5 servings which totals to about 400 calories. 

What should I pair with this recipe?

Looking for a side or two to serve with your cheesy lentil soup? We can help with that. Here are some of our recipes we think would compliment this dish.

cheesy red lentil soup in a dutch oven against a yellow background

Recipe Jam

In this segment, I suggest a song for you to listen to while you make cheesy red lentil soup! You can even stream it right here in your browser. Today’s Recipe Jam is No Apologies by Shopping. 

If you try this recipe, I want to hear about it! Feel free to post your creations to Instagram or Facebook and tag Hell Yes It’s Vegan or #hellyesitsvegan. I look forward to seeing your creations!

two bowls of cheesy red lentil soup on a yellow background with parsley on top
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4.84 from 6 votes

Cheesy Red Lentil Soup

Use your surplus of pantry items and make our cheesy red lentil soup. Made with red lentils, yellow split peas, coconut milk, nutritional yeast & more.
Prep Time10 mins
Cook Time2 hrs
Total Time2 hrs 10 mins
Course: Soup
Cuisine: American
Keyword: cheesy red lentil soup, lentil, lentil soup, red lentil soup, split pea soup, split peas, yellow split pea soup
Servings: 8
Calories: 329kcal


  • dutch oven or large pot



  • Add olive oil to dutch oven with onion on stoveetop. Sauté the onion for 5 minutes until translucent and add garlic and cooking for an additional 2 minutes. Add the carrots and potatoes sweat for an additional 3 minutes.
  • Add red wine vinegar and use a rubber spatula to deglaze the bottom of the pot for about 5 minutes.
  • Once the red wine vinegar is evaporated, add the lentils, peas, vegetable broth, and coconut milk. Bring to a simmer and cover for 1 hour and 45 minutes, lifting the lid to stir every 7-10 minutes to ensure the soup does not burn to the bottom.
  • At some point you will need to add 1-2 cups of water to ensure the yellow split peas continue to absorb liquid to and cook.
  • Once the soup is fully cooked, add the nutritional yeast, herbes de provence, onion powder, salt and pepper
  • Serve with (optional) fresh parsley


Note: Nutrition is an estimate and does not include optional ingredients.  
Just a heads up – this page contains some affiliate links which means I make a little bit of money if you click on select links and make a purchase. I only recommend products that I use on the reg!
Nutrition Facts
Cheesy Red Lentil Soup
Amount Per Serving (336 g)
Calories 329 Calories from Fat 99
% Daily Value*
Fat 11g17%
Saturated Fat 8g50%
Trans Fat 0g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1g
Monounsaturated Fat 2g
Cholesterol 0mg0%
Sodium 800mg35%
Potassium 703mg20%
Carbohydrates 43g14%
Fiber 10g42%
Sugar 5g6%
Protein 17g34%
Vitamin A 3294IU66%
Vitamin C 5mg6%
Calcium 68mg7%
Iron 4mg22%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
  1. Reply

    5 stars
    This one’s another winner! It’s lentils unlike I’ve tasted them before! I’ve eaten this one three days in a row now because it’s so good. Highly recommended.

    • KM
    • January 23, 2021

    5 stars
    So good! I skippEd the oil, but did add a couple things (sorry i cant help it!!) – a few big splashes of rosÈ instEad of vinegar; miso paste; a teeny bit of LIQUID smoke. SuBbed in cashew milk. I also made iT in the slow cooker, which i totally guessed at & overcooked (everything was mush) but APPARENTLY This is one of thOse recipes You just cant screw up! 🙏🏼 This is OFFICIALLY in high rotation!🧡

      • Claire
      • January 23, 2021

      Thanks for giving it a shot! I totally agree. This is one of the most forgiving recipes on my site! I’ve made this with wine instead of vinegar as well, sometimes I nix the potatoes, I also have cooked it in my instant pot instead of the stove. You really can’t go wrong. Love the miso addition. YUM.

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