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Classic Italian Lentil and Rice Soup (Lenticchie e Riso)

Lentil and Rice Soup is a classic Italian soup we grew up on.  It’s a hearty soup made with simple ingredients perfect for cold winter days—the ultimate comfort food in our family.  

a white bowl of lentil and rice soup with a spoon in the bowl.

A sofrito of onion, carrots, and celery combined with chicken broth and tomatoes is what makes this easy version of lentil and rice soup so good.  

“Lenticchie and riso”, literally means “lentil and rice” in Italian. This traditional Italian lentil soup recipe has roots in the “cucina povera”  or the “poor kitchen”.  These recipes come from small villages where people found ways to make delicious foods with the simple ingredients they had available.  

This flavor-packed recipe remains a staple soup in many Italian homes including ours. In our little village in Sicily, a vegetarian version of “Lenticchie and Riso” is often served on the feast of St. Joseph along with other meatless dishes.

Let me show you how easy this is to make.

Ingredients for lentils and rice soup with labels over each item.

Ingredients and Notes

  • Lentils:  We use brown lentils which are easily found in most grocery stores.  
  • Rice: For this soup, I like long-grain white rice. 
  • Sofrito: Onion, carrots, and celery should all be cut into small similar-sized pieces. This creates the flavor base of the soup.
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic should be minced so that it almost melts into the soup.
  • Diced Tomato:  I use canned tomatoes because they are always in my pantry, but you can also use fresh tomatoes if you like.
  • Chicken Bouillon: My mom always used the bouillon cubes because they impart a lot of flavor and she always had them on hand, but you can substitute chicken broth.  If you want to make this a vegan lentil soup, you can substitute vegetable bouillon or vegetable broth. 
  • Seasonings: Salt and Black Pepper are all you need.
  • Olive Oil

How to Make Lentil and Rice Soup

  1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot or Dutch oven set over medium-high heat.  Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery. Then add the garlic and cook until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, water, lentils, bouillon, salt and pepper.  Bring to a gentle boil, cover, and cook over low heat for 25 minutes.
  3. Add the rice, bring to a boil again, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes more.  The rice should just be al dente.

​Cooking Tips

  • Before adding the lentils to the soup, it is a good idea to sift through them to make sure that small stones have not been left behind in the packing process.  It is better to avoid any mishaps that might occur if you bite into one.
  • The rice and beans will soak up more liquid as the soup sits, so you may need to add extra water to thin it out.  I like to dissolve chicken bouillon in a few cups of water. This will thin the soup without compromising the flavor.
Two bowls of lentil and rice soup in front of a red pot of soup.

Variations

If you like a little heat, you can add red pepper flakes to the sofrito. 

Other vegetables, such as green beans or leafy greens like spinach can be added to make it even heartier.

Finish the soup off with some fresh parsley or chopped green onion for a pretty presentation.

What to Serve with Lentil and Rice Soup

Lentil and rice is a filling soup so you can make this your main course.  We love to have this with a loaf of warm homemade bread or focaccia.  Talk about the perfect comfort food!

In many Italian houses, soup is often a first course. So you can serve this hearty soup in smaller portions and follow it with roast chickenbaked pork chops, or baked haddock.

Make Ahead and Storage

Lentil and rice soup is really good the next day as the flavors deepen so it is a good option for a make-ahead meal.  Because the rice will likely soak up some of the liquid, you might have to add a cup of water to loosen it up again.  Just dissolve a chicken bouillon cube in the water before adding it to the soup so you don’t dilute the flavor.  You can also use chicken vegetable stock if you have it.  

Leftover soup can be stored in the refrigerator for up to a week if placed in an air-tight container or you can freeze it for up to 3 months

FAQ’s

Do you need to soak lentils before using them in this recipe?

No, there is no need to soak the lentils before adding them to the soup but there are some benefits to soaking them. According to Healthshots.com, soaking lentils aids in mineral absorption in the body and can help to wash away gas-producing enzymes so that you are not bloated after eating them.  However, it is not necessary to soak them before using them in a recipe.    

Should you cook rice before adding it to the soup?

You can use already cooked rice in this soup if you have it, but you don’t have to cook it first.  The rice will cook perfectly in this soup and it gives the lentils the additional cooking time they need as well.  Cooking the rice in the soup also means that it will be flavored with all of the ingredients in the delicious broth.  

A red pot of lentil and rice soup next to a small bowl of grated cheese.

Other Soup Recipes

A big pot of soup is perfect on a cold winter night. Some of out favorite soup recipes include Chicken Tortellini, Homemade Turkey soup and Chicken Rosa Marina with Spinach.

Vegetable soup options we have on a regular rotation are Italian Red Onion and Nonna’s Zucchini and Potato. Yum!

I love to get your feedback so if you tried this Lentil and Rice Soup or any other recipes on this website, please leave me a comment below.  I hope you enjoy our recipes and look forward to hearing from you!

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Lentil and Rice Soup

a white bowl of lentil and rice soup with a spoon in the bowl.

Italian Lentil and Rice Soup

A delicious hearty soup filled with vegetables, rice and lentils. This is a rustic inexpensive family recipe that is easy to make with pantry staples in less than an hour.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 50 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 5 minutes
Course dinner, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine Italian
Servings 8 servings
Calories 261 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • ¾ cups Carrots diced
  • ¾ cups Onion diced
  • ¾ cups Celery Diced
  • 1 tbsp Garlic minced
  • ½ cup Tomatoes chopped, canned
  • 8 cups Water
  • cups Lentils
  • 2 Chicken Bouillon cubes
  • 1 cup Rice long grain
  • 2 tsp Salt kosher
  • ¼ tsp Black Pepper

Instructions
 

  • Heat olive oil in a medium size sauce pot or Dutch oven. Sauté carrots, onion and celery until the onion is tender. Add the garlic and cook another minute or two until it become fragrant.
  • Add the tomatoes, water, lentils, bouillon, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil over medium high heat. Bring to a boil, cover and cook over low heat for 25 minutes.
  • Add the rice, cover and simmer for 20 minutes. Salt and pepper to taste.

Video

YouTube video

Notes

Cooking Tips

  • Before adding the lentils to the soup, it is a good idea to sift through them to make sure that small stones have not been left behind in the packing process.  It is better to avoid any mishaps that might occur if you bite into one.
  • The rice and beans will soak up more liquid as the soup sits, so you may need to add extra water to thin it out.  I like to dissolve chicken bouillon in a few cups of water. This will thin the soup without compromising the flavor.
Scroll up for Storage, variations and serving suggestions.

Nutrition

Serving: 1servingsCalories: 261kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 12gFat: 4gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0.1mgSodium: 852mgPotassium: 485mgFiber: 12gSugar: 3gVitamin A: 2140IUVitamin C: 5mgCalcium: 50mgIron: 3mg
Keyword Legumes, hearty, gluten free, comfort food, easy, simple ingredients
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2 thoughts on “Classic Italian Lentil and Rice Soup (Lenticchie e Riso)”

  • 5 stars
    This is such a comforting delicious soup with lentils and rice. It’s easy and perfect this time of year when we’re still trying to keep warm in the winter weather. ❤️😋

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