Is lentil soup good on a low carb diet?

A low carb diet limits carbohydrates to help manage blood sugar levels and promote weight loss. Many people find it challenging to follow a low carb diet long-term because they miss carbohydrate-rich foods like bread, pasta, and starchy vegetables. Soup can be a delicious low carb option when recipes are modified to reduce the carb content. Lentil soup is a popular soup choice, but the carb count of traditional lentil soup may be too high for some low carb eaters. By substituting high carb ingredients and controlling portion sizes, lentil soup can be modified to fit into a low carb eating plan.

What is a low carb diet?

A low carb diet limits carbohydrates to 20-150 grams per day, depending on the diet plan. Popular low carb diet approaches include:

  • Ketogenic diet – restricts carbs to 20-50 grams per day to induce ketosis
  • Atkins diet – begins with less than 20 grams of carbs and slowly increases
  • Paleo diet – focuses on whole, unprocessed foods including fruit, vegetables, meat, fish, eggs, nuts, seeds, and healthy fats
  • South Beach diet – reduces refined carbs and sugar in favor of lean protein, vegetables, and heart-healthy fats

The very low carb ketogenic diet aims to switch the body’s primary fuel source from glucose to ketones. Other low carb diets simply reduce carbs to help manage blood sugar and hunger levels.

Research shows low carb diets can:

  • Enhance weight loss
  • Improve blood sugar control and insulin sensitivity
  • Lower triglycerides and raise HDL cholesterol
  • Reduce blood pressure
  • Decrease appetite and food cravings

Low carb diets emphasize protein, healthy fats, non-starchy vegetables, and some fruit. Grains, starchy veggies, legumes, and sweets are restricted or eliminated.

Carb count in traditional lentil soup

Lentils are a good plant-based source of protein and fiber. However, they are still relatively high in carbs compared to low carb diet guidelines. One cup of cooked lentils contains approximately:

  • Calories: 230
  • Protein: 17g
  • Carbs: 40g
  • Fiber: 16g

The net carb count comes out to around 24g per cup after subtracting fiber. While lentils are lower carb than many other beans and legumes, this net carb count is still considered high for a ketogenic diet or very low carb eating plan.

In addition to the lentils themselves, traditional lentil soup recipes often include other high carb ingredients like potatoes, carrots, onions, and bread or crackers. Without making some modifications, a one cup serving of lentil soup may contain 30-50g net carbs.

Tips for making lentil soup low carb

While traditional lentil soup is too high in carbs for most low carb diets, there are several easy ways to reduce the carb count:

Use fewer or no starchy vegetables

Onions and carrots add flavor, but also extra carbs. Limiting the amount used or leaving them out entirely can reduce carb count. Low carb vegetable choices like celery, mushrooms, spinach, cabbage, and zucchini make great additions.

Skip the pasta, rice, and other starches

Pasta, rice, and starchy thickeners like flour or cornstarch are common in lentil soup recipes. Leaving them out prevents unneeded carb additions.

Focus on herbs, spices, and seasoning

With fewer starchy veggies and no noodles or rice, the flavor may need a boost from herbs, spices, garlic, chili, lemon juice, or zest. Opt for low sodium broth and salt-free seasoning blends.

Include healthy fats

Adding olive oil, avocado, nuts, seeds, or coconut milk provides creaminess, richness, and healthy fats to replace missing carbs.

Garnish with low carb add-ins

Top soup with yogurt, cheese, avocado, or pumpkin seeds rather than croutons or bread.

Control portion size

Even when recipe is modified to be low carb, lentils still contain carbs. Stick to 1 cup serving sizes and avoid overeating.

Substitute lower carb alternatives

Swap higher carb lentil varieties for lower carb green or beluga lentils. Cauliflower can also replace some of the lentils to reduce carb content.

Sample low carb lentil soup recipe

This recipe for creamy cauliflower lentil soup maximizes flavor while minimizing carbs. Makes 6 servings.


  • Olive oil: 2 Tbsp
  • Onion: 1/2 cup diced
  • Carrots: 1/2 cup diced
  • Celery: 1 cup diced
  • Garlic: 2 cloves minced
  • Low sodium chicken or vegetable broth: 4 cups
  • Diced tomatoes: 14oz can
  • Beluga or green lentils: 1 cup dry
  • Head cauliflower: 2 cups riced or finely chopped
  • Curry powder: 1 Tbsp
  • Coconut milk: 1 cup


  1. Heat olive oil in large pot over medium heat.
  2. Add onion, carrots, celery and cook 5 minutes until softened.
  3. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more.
  4. Pour in broth, tomatoes, lentils, cauliflower, and curry powder. Bring to a boil.
  5. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20-25 minutes until lentils are tender.
  6. Remove from heat and puree with immersion blender or traditional blender.
  7. Return to pot, stir in coconut milk.
  8. Adjust seasoning as needed. Garnish bowls with avocado, pumpkin seeds, or yogurt if desired.

Nutrition facts per serving:

  • Calories: 195
  • Fat: 8g
  • Carbs: 17g
  • Fiber: 5g
  • Net carbs: 12g
  • Protein: 9g

This lentil soup fits well into a low carb eating plan. The total carb count comes in under 20g per serving, with about 12g net carbs when fiber is excluded. The healthy fats and protein help keep hunger satisfied, while the array of vegetables provide key nutrients.

Benefits of lentil soup on a low carb diet

Modified lentil soup offers several benefits for those following a low carb diet:

Plant-based protein

Lentils provide over 9 grams protein per serving, making the soup filling and satisfying. This allows dieters to meet protein needs without relying solely on meat.

High fiber

One cup of lentils delivers about 16 grams of dietary fiber, over half the daily target. The fiber aids digestion and gut health.

Nutrient rich

In addition to protein and fiber, lentils offer iron, potassium, magnesium, zinc, folate, and more. The veggies boost vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant intake.

Supports heart health

The fiber, nutrients, and plant protein can all contribute to improved cholesterol levels and lower blood pressure.

Provides variety

Low carb diets can become repetitive and boring. Lentil soup offers a tasty, soup option that can break up food boredom.

Kidney friendly

Lentils contain lower levels of potassium compared to other beans, making them a good choice for those with kidney issues.

May help manage blood sugar

The carb count is low enough for most low carb diets. The fiber helps slow the digestion and absorption of carbs.

Satisfying and comforting

The texture and flavor of lentil soup can satisfy cravings for hearty comfort foods that may be limited on a low carb diet.

Potential downsides

While lentil soup can be modified to be low carb, there are some potential downsides:

  • Higher in carbs than some very low carb foods – While lower carb than many options, lentils still contain more carbs than foods like meat, eggs, and non-starchy veggies.
  • Easy to overeat – The soup may be so tasty and satisfying that it’s easy go back for seconds and thirds, quickly exceeding carb limits.
  • Gas and digestion issues – Some people experience bloating, gas, and digestive upset from eating lentils and other legumes.
  • Lentil carbs can vary – Carb count depends on the lentil variety, so it’s important to read labels and track intake.
  • Requires planning and cooking – Making low carb lentil soup takes more effort than grabbing a store bought can of regular soup.

These potential cons can be managed by carefully controlling portions, sticking to low carb cooking methods, and monitoring individual response.


Here are some precautions to keep in mind with lentil soup on a low carb diet:

  • Start slowly – Introduce lentil soup in small amounts to assess digestibility and response.
  • Stay hydrated – Drink plenty of water and electrolyte beverages to prevent side effects.
  • Assess kidney function – Reduce protein, including plant-based protein, if you have kidney disease or are prone to kidney stones.
  • Monitor blood sugar – Lentils can impact blood sugar, especially in people using diabetes medications. Discuss with your healthcare provider.
  • Check labels – Be aware of sneaky carb additions like thickeners, flavorings, or sodium in canned broths and prepared soup.

As with any dietary change, it’s wise to talk to your doctor first if you have any health conditions or concerns.

Frequently asked questions

Here are answers to some common questions about lentil soup on a low carb diet:

Is lentil soup keto friendly?

It can be if recipe limits net carbs to around 5-10g per serving. Skip starchy veggies, add healthy fats, and control portions.

Are canned lentil soups low carb?

Most canned lentil soups are not low carb, with at least 20-30g net carbs per serving. Always read nutrition labels carefully.

What can I use instead of noodles in lentil soup?

Skip the noodles completely or try zucchini noodles, cauliflower rice, shredded cabbage or spinach.

Can I use tahini or peanut butter to thicken lentil soup?

Yes, small amounts of tahini, peanut butter, or nut butters can provide thickness without adding carbs.

Is lentil soup filling on a low carb diet?

The protein, fiber, and healthy fat make modified lentil soup very satisfying. Portion control is still key to prevent overeating carbs.

Are dehydrated lentil soup mixes low carb?

Dried soup mixes can be high in added starches and carbs for thickening. Check labels and choose low carb varieties specifically.

What spices are best in low carb lentil soup?

Curry powder, cumin, chili powder, garlic, pepper, oregano, basil and parsley all add big flavor without carbs.

Can I freeze low carb lentil soup?

Yes, portion into containers and freeze up to 3 months. Thaw in fridge overnight before reheating. Add water as needed once thawed.


With smart substitutions and controlled portions, lentil soup can be modified to fit into a low carb eating plan. Benefits like added protein, fiber, nutrients, and variety make it a tasty choice. Be mindful of total carb counts and prepare using low carb ingredients to keep net carbs in the target range for your diet. As with any dietary change, discuss integrating lentil soup with your healthcare provider and monitor your individual response. With some simple tweaks, lentil soup can be a delicious and healthy addition to a low carb lifestyle.

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