A healthy, flavorful way to use leftover duck
Duck (whether roasted or pan seared) is seriously good stuff. So if you find yourself with leftovers, you don’t want to waste them.
And because duck has such deep flavor, even a little goes a long way. Which makes it perfect for soup.
Especially with lentils—they’re magic when combined with duck. Add some kale, and you have an exceptionally nutritious (and tasty) dish.
Best of all? Making this dish is easy as, well, duck soup.
Recipe: Duck, Lentil, and Kale Soup
For this soup, you can use leftover roast duck or pan-seared duck breast (magret). If you happen to have a whole roast duck, you can use its carcass for making duck stock (see Notes).
Prep time for this recipe is about 20 minutes. Cooking time adds another 30 minutes.
This recipe serves about 4. Leftovers freeze well.
- 1 medium onion
- 2 carrots
- 2 to 4 cloves of garlic (to taste)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- salt to taste (about ½ teaspoon kosher salt; but see Notes)
- 1 cup dried lentils
- ~8 ounces leftover cooked duck (or more if you have it—up to 16 ounces)
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes (or to taste; optional)
- 2 teaspoons dried thyme (see Notes for substitutions)
- 8 cups water (or chicken or duck stock; see Notes)
- ½ pound kale
- additional salt to taste
- freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Peel the onion and cut it into dice of about ½ inch. Set aside.
- Scrub and peel the carrots, then cut them into dice of ¼ to ½ inch. Set aside.
- Peel the garlic and mince it finely or cut it into thin slices. Set aside.
- Place a 4-quart stock pot or saucepan on medium stovetop heat. When the pan is hot, add the olive oil. When the oil is heated (it’ll shimmer; about 15 seconds), add the chopped onion and carrots. Season to taste with salt, then sauté the mixture until the onion is translucent (5 to 8 minutes).
- Meanwhile, pick over the lentils to remove any stones or grit, then rinse them clean. Chop the leftover duck into dice of ½ inch or so.
- When the onion is translucent (Step 4), add the minced garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Then add the red pepper flakes (if using) and dried thyme, and sauté for 15 seconds.
- Add the water (or stock), lentils, and leftover duck. Bring to a simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.
- While the soup is cooking, wash the kale and remove its stems. Chop the kale into pieces no larger than an inch or so.
- After the soup has cooked for 20 minutes (Step 7), add the kale. Cook for an additional 10 minutes, or a bit longer if the lentils need more time to become soft.
- Taste the soup, then add black pepper and additional salt if necessary. Serve and enjoy.
- You can cook the kale for more than 10 minutes if you wish (see Step 9). In fact, the soup will have slightly better flavor if you do. But be aware that kale’s bright green color will fade if you cook it longer.
- BTW, you don’t have to use kale in this dish. Any dark, leafy green would work. Chopped cabbage would also make an interesting substitute.
- Don't have leftover duck? You could substitute chicken or turkey (we suggest using the dark meat). But this dish is better with duck.
- Water alone makes a tasty soup, but stock does add considerable flavor. Chicken stock works fine in this recipe—and duck stock would be even better. If you have a carcass from a whole roast duck, you can make duck stock using the same general procedure we outline for making chicken stock in our post, Stock Excuses.
- For a thicker soup, use less water (or stock) than we specify. For a thinner soup, use more.
- We like to use dried thyme in this soup, but you can substitute another herb if you prefer. Fresh rosemary would be wonderful—use 2 or 3 teaspoons minced. (Dried rosemary is flavorless and we don’t recommend it.) Any other herb that sounds interesting to you would probably work, too.
- We use ordinary brown lentils for this soup. But you could substitute French green (Le Puy) lentils if you wish.
- As noted above, duck and lentils make a dynamite combo. But if you prefer, you could substitute cooked white beans for the lentils (use about 3 cups of cooked beans).
- We use kosher salt for cooking. Kosher salt has big flakes, so it doesn’t fill a measuring spoon as “tightly” as regular table salt. Hence, it’s less salty by volume. If you’re using regular table salt rather than kosher salt, use only about half as much as we suggest. But really, when it comes to salt (or black pepper), you should always season to your own taste.
Ducks in a Row
“Yummy soup,” said Mrs. Kitchen Riffs. “Just ducky.”
“Yup, lentils play well in this dish,” I said. “Just like a duck takes to water.”
“I was a sitting duck for that comment,” said Mrs K R.
“So I better stop these puns before I need to duck and cover,” I said.
“Agreed,” said Mrs K R. “You don’t want to be a lame duck.”
Or a dead duck.
You may also enjoy reading about:
Cabbage, Kielbasa, and Black-Eyed Pea Soup
Black-Eyed Pea and Collard Green Soup
Bean and Cabbage Soup
Curried Cauliflower Soup
Winter Squash, Corn, and Bacon Chowder
Tuscan Bean and Pasta Soup
Or check out the index for more recipes
Ahh. Duck soup. The best soup in Freedonia. GREG
Hi Greg, :-) Such a funny movie, isn't it? One of our favorites! Thanks for the comment.
I'm obsessed with the idea of cooking duck. I need to do it and make this soup. I love making things like this and freezing them for another day.
Hi Laura, duck is fun to cook! And it's always so special. We need to do it much, much more often, If for no other reason so we can have this soup more often. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I love the sound of this recipe and all those flavors! It isn't often that I include duck in my cuisine but I do have a package of duck legs in my freezer for a planned entrée soon. BTW your pictures showcase this beautifully.
Hi Pat, we don't use duck all that often either. Our loss -- it's so good, isn't it? Thanks for the comment.
John, would you suggest using a Dutch oven (cast iron) for this soup?
Love the pictures (make me feel to want this soup tonight:-)
Thank you very much!
Hi La Torontoise, you certainly could use a Dutch oven for this recipe. I actually used a stainless stock pot when I made this, mainly because the soup doesn't take that long to cook. When I'm cooking for a long time -- and on low heat -- I almost always use a cast iron Dutch oven. Thanks for the comment.
Leftover duck is not in my house :) we eat ducks to the bones. I will try saving some next time for this delicious soup.
When I was a kid, duck was so easy to get on Long Island that we often had duck soup more than chicken soup. Of course, those days are long gone. There may be one duck farm left on Long Island; if that. Such a shame really...
It's been a while since I've made duck soup. Actually haven't made Duck at all it way too long. I can usually find it at Wegman's or Trader Joe's (although I think it's usually smoked)
I'd love to try this recipe John. Everything about it sings comfort. I'm partial to marjoram with lentils but since I have a thriving rosemary plant sitting idle, I may just go with a speck of rosemary. (dont want to over power the flavors)
Thanks so much for sharing, John...Now can I say Just Ducky!
Wow, what a great way to use duck!
Loooove duck -- so this soup would be right up my alley!
Lovely soup, John! We've been searing duck breasts and eating them more often this winter. Not sure why we waited so long...what a treat. Adding them to soup is inspired, especially with the lentils and kale. Thank you!
I have never had leftover duck in my life! If ever do, though, I know what I'll do with it. ;-)
Hi Amira, leftover duck is pretty rare here, too. But sometimes it does happen! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Louise, Long Island has really changed, hasn't it? I saw some of those duck (and potato) farms in the early 60s. Things are quite different now. And you're right about marjoram and lentils -- really good combo. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, isn't this nice? Really tasty. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Denise, this would be perfect for you! Thanks for the comment.
HI Hannah, seared duck breasts are just wonderful, aren't they? Better than steak! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Jeff, you'll have to plan on getting some leftover duck just so you can make this. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks like a wonderful soup! I love the suggestion of cabbage too.. I think I'd have to do both greens for this! Thanks for the recipe!
What is leftover Duck ? Lol. In my house it gets eaten to the last bite but I am going to make this recipe by saving some duck for it. Truly nutrition packed and gorgeous.
How pretty John - and I bet you are right about the duck flavoring the lentils. Sounds wonderful!
What a inviting soup. I love duck soup it has such a flavor that is so different from chicken. I could use a bowl of this right now...I have a cold and the lentils and kale mixed in would be awesome. I always am hungry when I see your posts..just terrific.
It is going to be really cold this weekend, a perfect soup for this time of year...Thanks for sharing..Have a great rest of the week...
Hi Pamela, it'd be fun trying this with both greens! Like that idea. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Ansh, I know, I know -- leftover duck is a rare occurrence. But it sometimes does happen. Sometimes. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Tricia, duck and lentils is an awesome combo! We love it. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dottie, sorry about your cold! And this soup would definitely be a nice remedy. It's cold here now, and will be this weekend -- we need to make more of this! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Lentils are TOTALLLYYYYYYYYY under-rated! SO dang healthy!
Kind of like cassoulet soup? This is so perfect and easy and now I need a duck. Quack, Quack!
As much as we eat beans, we hardly ever eat lentils. Neither Bobby nor I are big fans of the basic lentil soups; however, using lentil as relative minor ingredient here with so many other awesome ingredients, sounds great! We love duck so anything with duck appeals to me. Great recipe John!
Hi GiGi, we LOVE lentils! So tasty, aren't they? Thanks for the comment.
Hi Abbe, I didn't think of that! It is just a little like cassoulet soup, isn't it? Gee, that might be a pretty good dish . . . :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi MJ, lentils have a nice, earthy flavor that I really like. And this soup is fairly brothy, so the lentils don't overwhelm. Thanks for the comment.
I have never had duck in soup but it sounds fabulous! For me, soup is one of the trade-offs that make winter worth enduring. Thanks for another great recipe to put on my must try list. :)
Hi Judy, duck soup is worth trying sometime. Of course, first you need to have leftover duck! :-) We have soup all the time in cold weather -- at least 3 times a week, often more. Thanks for the comment.
It's not easy finding fresh duck in San Diego- I have to drive to Jimbo's in downtown to buy any, but easy to find in Adelaide .The big supermarkets dominated by Ralph's and Vons, etc in San Diego just don't carry duck. Anyway, I'll just have to make 'duck soup of that situation' and buy duck where ever I can find it. Love the photos of the soup!
A great way to use kale, this sounds really hearty and ideal for February.
Hi John, beleive it or not i have never had duck, this soup does sounds wonderful though. Lentils are my favorite, great pics!
Hi Fran, fresh duck is hard to find here, too. Frozen duck is quite available during the winter holidays, but not the rest of the year. It's either special order at the supermarket, or ordering through mail (which is the best option). Thanks for the comment.
Hi Caroline, we really like kale in soups! Add flavor and nutrition, of course, but also color. Thanks for the comment.
Hi Cheri, you must try duck sometime! Order it in a restaurant -- just to make sure you really like it (it's all dark meat, and I know some people don't like dark meat in poultry). Thanks for the comment.
A friend of mine just came back from a successful duck hunt... I'll be forwarding on this delicious looking recipe to him.
Hi Pam, maybe if you get lucky he'll give you some duck! Or at least some soup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This would be really good for a cold winter wet night, definitely keeping the recipe for our coming winter here down under
Where I come from, duck is like everybody's favourite meat ! So I'm gonna try your delicious recipe soon ^^
Hi Raymund, definitely a winter recipe! Cold and snowy here, so perfect for us. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Gabrielle, I envy you your ducks! We can get quite good quality duck here, but it's often a special order thing. Thanks for the comment.
Only recently have I begun seeing duck for sale in our local grocery stores. (That's something for out here in the boonies!) My daughter raises ducks and I am the beneficiary of duck eggs, which I've come to adore; store eggs are like winter tomatoes now) but she'll never let me have a duck for anything but the eggs!
I recently had duck for the first time and was pleasantly surprised! Love this soup!
Hi Rosemary, maybe if you ask nicely your daughter will give you a duck for your birthday? :D Easier to buy from the store, anyway -- those are raised specifically for their meat. Thanks for the comment.
These are all my favourite flavours! PLUS I have been on a "lentil bender" lately, I can't seem to get enough of them! What a delicious meal idea!
Thanks for sharing
I have never eaten duck--the opportunity has never presented itself. But I sure have enjoyed my share of lentils and kale over the years. Your photos are gorgeous, as usual. I need to seek out some duck. --Rocquie
What a delicious way to use leftover duck...it sure does not look like a leftover dish...lentil and kale...such a hearty soup John.
Thanks for the inspiration!
Hope you are having a great week :)
Hi Julie, we love lentils! Hard to get enough of them. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Rocquie, we don't often have duck, but really like it. And when we have it, wonder why we don't more often! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Juliana, lentil and kale work really well together. With or without duck. :-) Thanks for the comment.
John, thank you! I love duck, will do the soup this weekend!
Have a great weekend!
Enjoy! We'll definitely have a great weekend, and hope you do, too. :-)
Seriously amazing soup John, and hardy. Who has leftover duck lol? Well glad you did to make this creation. Looks very nutritious, healthy and flavorful. And it is so cold here it would be nice to warm up with.
I can't say that I often have leftover duck in the house, not with my husband around. LOL But if I ever did, I would surely make this magnificent looking soup. I bet the duck does add incomparable flavor to it.
I not sure if I have eaten duck, but it sounds delicious in this soup. I love the bright colors in the soup. Looks yummy.
Hi Evelyne, we don't have duck often, but when we do, we usually have enough so there are leftovers. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Carolyn, bet your husband would like this soup better than chowing down on leftover duck. Well, maybe not -- who can resist picking at the carcass of a roast duck? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Dawn, duck is wonderful stuff -- you owe it to yourself to give it a try. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I don't think I've ever had duck soup! When we enjoy duck it's usually in an Asian dish like the duck pancakes I had the other night and the duck fresh rolls we had last night in a Thai restaurant. I never seem to have any leftover duck lying around so I'd have to buy some duck breasts which are readily available from my local butcher. Your soup looks very pretty and colourful and I love how it can be made in less than an hour xx
Hi Ashley, isn't duck good stuff? Love it! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Charlie, we like duck in Asian dishes, but like it even more when we have seared duck breasts. One of the world's best dishes -- better than steak (which, it actually resembles somewhat). Thanks for the comment.
Gorgeous colorful and delicious soup. I see my fair share of duck here in HK. You can find them hanging at the window at every noodle shop here. Now kale is something that is hard to find here in HK.. LOL Great weather for soup as it is so damp and dreary and the cold and flu season is in full swing. Your soup would warm me right up.
Hi Bam, I'll bet you see a lot of duck! Asian-style duck would work well in this recipe, I think. Might want to use cabbage since kale is so hard to find. Might be fun to finish the soup with just a touch of sesame oil, too (I'll bet it'd work well with the duck). :-) Thanks for the comment.
This soup looks delicious! I'm sure I'd love it - with and without the duck!
Hi Melanie, it's really good soup! Better with the duck, but still quite good without. :-) Thanks for the comment.
With Chinese friends around, we often eat ducks, and I love that you made soup with leftover duck. I never thought of combining western ingredients and roasted duck etc from Chinese restaurants/store and your recipe totally opened up my eyes! I'll be sure to try this recipe with lentils thanks to your recommendation!
Hi Nami, it's fun to mix and match ingredients! And lentils work really well in so many different cuisines. :-) Thanks for the comment.
I was just talking about duck today with one of my co-workers. When I lived in the UK, we ate duck instead of beef because we preferred the flavor. Now, duck is hard to find and rather expensive, but this soup makes me want to seek it out. This looks just delicious.
Bill would be thrilled if I'd make duck breasts for dinner---then thrilled again when I used the leftovers for your scrumptious soup!
I've never had an opportunity to try duck, it's not readily available at any store I frequent, but it looks like I'm missing out. Your soup looks right up my alley. Completely healthy and so colorful!
Hi Karen, we really don't eat enough duck in the US, do we? I can always find it in the grocery store between Halloween and through Christmas, but often not during the rest of the year (although I can and have ordered it specially). Duck is good stuff -- we all need to eat more of it! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Liz, duck breasts are so wonderful, aren't they? And they're so big -- we made this soup out of leftover duck breasts. Just can't eat the whole thing. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Kristi, duck has a ton of flavor! And a little goes a long way. Not always easy to find, but worth trying sometime. Thanks for the comment.
WOW! this soup looks so beautiful and delicious !
Hi Kushi, it is, it is! :-) Thanks for the comment.
No ducking this recipe---it's a keeper. You two are some lucky ducks! :) (Couldn't resist.)
Hi Debra, we ARE lucky ducks! :-) Thanks for the comment.
I have never cooked with duck before. This soup is something I should try when I get a chance. Looks nice!
Hi Holly, we love duck! Don't have it nearly often enough. Something we need to work on. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This cold weather is bringing out the lentil recipes -- and I love 'em all! It's a great idea of making soup with duck leftovers. I use the broth to make risotto but this lentil dish of yours sounds fantastic, John. I think it's time I get myself another duck. Thanks for the inspiration!
Hi John, risotto made with duck broth sounds extraordinary! We need to get another duck, too. :-) Thanks for the comment.
My husband loves duck AND lentils, this would make him soooo happy. I confess I've never cooked duck, but there's a first time for everything...and since today is Valentine's Day, I think I have my work cut out for me!
Hi Sue, I'd suggest searing duck breasts for your first duck attempt. They're easy -- just like cooking steak. Thanks for the comment.
This duck lentil kale soup looks lovely. Super awesome :)
Hi Ritu, it IS super awesome. :-) Thanks for the comment.
This looks beautiful! I"d love to make this but my hubby isn't a fan of duck. Although he may not recognize it swimming in the soup. Hmm, I may have to try that. Happy Valentine's Day to you and the Mrs.
Hi Vicki, we just got in from shoveling snow! Wish we had this waiting for us. :-) Happy Valentine's Day! And thanks for the comment.
I rarely cook with duck, but your soup could make a convert out of me! Anyone who eats this soup would be a real lucky duck.
Hi Beth, duck has such nice flavor, doesn't it? And yes, anyone who eats this is indeed a lucky duck! :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi John , Boy do this soup look good . Can't find fresh ducks at the market often ... sooooo I'm going to use a frozen duck , they are plentiful . I'm pinning this one .
Happy Valentine's Day to you and Mrs . K R ... :) Nee
Hi Nee, we almost always end up getting frozen ducks. Fortunately, they're pretty good quality. Happy Valentine's Day to you! And thanks for the comment.
I have to confess to never having cooked duck and have only tasted it once. I loved it so not sure why I haven't cooked it since! This sounds so tasty, John, and your pictures are just beautiful!
This is such a nice winter soup. We enjoy duck, but don't get it too often because it's so expensive. It's a treat when we do have it though.
I'm a soup girl John but don't recall ever having a soup based around duck. Your soup sounds filling and delicious.
Hi Robyn, most of us don't cook duck too often. A shame, because its flavor is so wonderful! And perfect in this soup. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Amy, duck can be pretty pricey, can't it? So good though! Thanks for the comment.
Hi Karen, we're definitely soup people! Particularly at this time of the year. Can't live without it. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Perfect timing! I have kale in my fridge!
You are making me miss duck, John. When I lived in Prague I used to eat it quite often, but it's not something that's available to me here now -- sadly. Your soup looks insanely delicious and satisfying!
Hi Peachy, you'll enjoy the kale in this soup. Super flavor, of course, and wonderful color. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Hi Nancy, this is an insanely delish and satisfying soup! Really good stuff. :-) Thanks for the comment.
Mrs KR's and your conversation about this ducky dish is so cute. Awesome food idea... Nothing is wasted and everything is delicious :)
Hi Zoe, this IS a ducky dish. ;-) Really good, too! Thanks for the comment.
Although the weather in this part of the world is nice and warm but a healthy and delicious bowl of comfort is always welcome :D
Hi Taruna, who can't use some comfort in a bowl? :-) Thanks for the comment.
Leftover duck.... what is this you speak of? Ha. I would have to buy duck especially for this recipe, which I might add is amazing!!! :) Even in 35+ Celsius temps. Yarm!
Hi Anna, yeah I know about leftover duck -- doesn't happen that much, does it? But when it does, this is the way to go. :-) Thanks for the comment.
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