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Turn leftover chicken into a delicious, wholesome lentil soup with just a few ingredients in under an hour. Vegetarian? Omit the chicken and replace with vegetable broth to enjoy!
If you have leftover protein such as chicken or turkey and don’t want the same meal again, you can make this tasty soup with your basic pantry staples and a few fresh ingredients. It is an excellent way to clear out your fridge. I like my soup thick and hearty but if you prefer a thinner version you can add more broth or water to this recipe.
*Good To Know*
- What type of lentils should I use?
I used green lentils, but you can choose any lentils on hand, such as yellow, red, green, brown, or black.
- Can I skip the chicken and make the lentil soup a vegetarian version?
Yup! Did you know that lentils are high in protein? Even if you skip the chicken, you are still getting a good amount of protein with just the lentils. Adjust the seasoning to suit your taste. I would start with 1 teaspoon salt and add more if needed. Also, replace the chicken broth with water or vegetable broth.
Ingredients you will need:
- leftover chicken or turkey – I used rotisserie chicken
- unsalted butter
- dried lentils – any colour variety is ok. I used green lentils
- large white or yellow potatoes – acts as a natural thickener and contributes to the hearty flavour of this soup
- white or yellow onion
- chicken broth
- ground cumin
- curry powder
- turmeric powder
- kosher or sea salt
- brown sugar
- fresh or dehydrated parsley for garnish
- lemons – to serve. Some add lemon juice to the soup during the cooking process but not everyone is a fan of lemon in their soup, so serving it on the side makes it more customizable
How to cook lentil soup
Since the soup comes together fairly quickly, prepare your vegetables and measure your ingredients ahead before you begin cooking. Debone and shred the leftover chicken into bite-size strips.
Melt unsalted butter with olive or vegetable oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add diced onions and minced garlic to the butter and cook until translucent. Then stir in ground cumin, turmeric, and curry powder and fry the spices until fragrant.
Next, add cubed potatoes and lentils, stir to combine, then add salt and brown sugar. Lastly, pour in chicken broth and water. Mix everything and bring to a boil on high heat. Use a skimmer spoon to remove any foam that bubbles to the surface. Then reduce the heat down to medium and continue to cook soup uncovered for 25 minutes while occasionally stirring the soup. Lastly, add the shredded chicken to the soup. Since we are using leftover chicken, it is already cooked and should only be added near the end of cooking.
- Adjust your cooking time and seasoning if you decide to omit the chicken to keep this soup vegetarian-friendly.
- Replace the chicken broth with water or vegetable broth for a vegetarian version
Blend for a hearty soup
At this point, you can decide whether you want to enjoy the soup chunky or smooth. I opted for both, meaning I reserved half of the soup in a separate bowl and blended the other half. Then I combined the puréed and reserved portions together again. The potatoes helped thicken the soup, so you will not need to add a thickener. If you prefer a thinner version of the soup, whether blended or not, add about 2 more cups of broth or water and season to taste.
How to purée with an immersion blender
An immersion blender is a handheld device with a blending arm and a blade grinder that you can use to ‘dunk’ or immerse into soups or sauces to purée or emulsify and create a smoother consistency. It is also known as a stick blender, hand blender, or wand blender.
I find it convenient to be able to dunk this device directly into my hot soup to blend in the pot. Blend the soup until you reach the consistency you like. I like to blend by holding my immersion blender between a 90° and 45° angle, switching between these angles to get a smooth consistency. Be careful while doing this since it might create a few hot splashes. You can use a clean kitchen towel to cover half the pot while blending to minimize splashing.
How to purée with a blender or food processor
If you do not have an immersion blender, you can use a standard smoothie blender or food processor to blend your soup smoothly. To do this, strain the contents of your soup through a mesh strainer placed over a large bowl and carefully pour the broth back into the pot. Work in batches if you need to by placing 2 cups of the soup content into your food processor or blender at a time.
If using a food processor, make sure the entire lid is closed tightly but remove or open the small cap on the chute. If using a smoothie blender, ensure the lid is closed tightly but remove the small cap in the center of the lid. This is important as it will allow the hot steam from the contents to escape and avoid a food explosion while you blend. Yes, I am definitely speaking from experience! My kitchen looked like a crime scene. Don’t make the same mistake I did! You can cover the small opening with a paper towel if you need to. When you are done blending, combine the contents back with the broth in the pot. Stir to combine and reheat the soup if needed.
Serve soup in a bowl garnished with fresh chopped parsley (or dehydrated parsley flakes) and a wedge of lemon. The soup is good on its own or can be served with toasted bread, crackers, or pita chips.
30 Minute Hearty Leftover Chicken Lentil Soup
- 1 Tablespoon olive oil
- 1 Tablespoon unsalted butter
- 1 cup (160 g) yellow or white cooking onion (1 large), peeled & diced
- 1 Tablespoon fresh garlic (4 cloves), peeled, trimmed & minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon curry powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 3 cups (710 g) white potatoes (3 large), peeled & cubed into 1/2 inch pieces
- 1½ cups dried green lentils, or any colour variety such as red, yellow, brown, or black
- 2 teaspoons kosher or sea salt
- 1 Tablespoon brown sugar
- 4 cups (946 ml) chicken broth
- 4 cups (946 ml) water
- 3 cups (420 g) leftover cooked chicken (or turkey), deboned & shredded into bite sized pieces
- 1-2 large lemons, cut into 6 wedges
- ¼ cup fresh Italian parsley, rinsed, stems removed & roughly chopped
- Melt unsalted butter with olive oil in a large pot on medium-high heat. Add diced onions and minced garlic to the butter and cook until translucent, about 3 minutes. Then stir in ground cumin, turmeric powder, and curry powder and fry the spices until fragrant about 2 minutes.
- Add cubed potatoes and lentils, stir to combine, then add salt and brown sugar. Lastly, pour in chicken broth and water. Mix everything and bring to a boil on high heat. Use a skimmer spoon or ladle to remove any foam that bubbles to the surface, then reduce heat down to medium.
- Cook soup, uncovered, for 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Then combine shredded chicken into the soup and continue to cook for another 5 minutes on medium heat.
- At this point, you can decide whether you want to enjoy the soup chunky or smooth. You can serve it as is, blend the entire thing, or you can do a 50/50 blend. To do a blend, reduce the heat down to low. Ladle half of the soup content into a heat-proof bowl. Use an immersion blender to blend the remaining soup in the pot. Combine the blended and reserved soup back together in the pot. For alternate purée methods, see notes below.
- Serve soup in a bowl garnished with fresh chopped parsley (or dehydrated parsley flakes) and a wedge of lemon. The soup is good on its own or can be served with toasted bread, crackers, or pita chips.