Lentil soup is a nutritional powerhouse.
It combines the nutrients, protein, good carbs and fiber in lentils with the antioxidant power of veggies, herbs and spices. Adding a little good fat from the extra virgin olive oil rounds it out into a perfectly balanced meal.
Lentils are especially high in B vitamins and minerals like iron, phosphorus, potassium and zinc. Many nutritionists consider lentils one of the healthiest things you can eat, especially if you’re on a tight budget.
This soup is incredibly easy to make and really inexpensive, even with organic ingredients you can make a giant pot of soup that will feed 6-8 people for less than $10.
I like to use the small dark green lentils (a.k.a. French lentils) because they’re sturdy and cook quickly. All lentil varieties are great and very nutritious, try different types (red, green, etc.) and find what you like best.
- 1 quart vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
- 2 cups purified water
- 1.5 cups lentils, soaked and rinsed
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 celery ribs, finely chopped
- 1 large carrot, finely chopped or grated
- 3-4 cloves garlic, pressed or finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (aged balsamic also works)
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, plus more to taste if necessary
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Optional: 2 tomatoes, seeded and chopped (or one 12 oz can organic diced tomatoes)
- Optional: Any greens you’d like to add, look for something in-season and a good price at the store. Spinach is always a great option and has a mild flavor, you’ll need about one handful of washed greens per person.
- Spread the lentils out on a large sheet tray and pick anything that doesn’t look like a lentil. Legumes are harvested and stored in large quantities and sometimes little rocks or other things make their way in the bag. Newer harvesting methods mean less chance of debris, so I rarely find anything but it's good to check.
- Rinse and strain the lentils well before using.
- Heat the olive oil over medium to medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Add the chopped onion, carrot, celery, and a large pinch of sea salt and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
- Turn the heat to medium-low and add garlic, cumin, oregano and pinch of both salt and black pepper to the pot. Stir and let cook another 3-5 minutes until the mixture is well combined and very fragrant. Garlic burns very easily so adjust the heat down if necessary.
- Add the bay leaf, rest of the salt and pepper, stock, water and rinsed lentils to the pot. Turn to high heat and bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer (about medium-low). The amount of salt you need will depend on what type of stock you use; start with one teaspoon and add more later to taste if desired.
- Add the tomatoes (if using) and let the pot simmer for about 40-50 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the vinegar.
- Discard the bay leaf before pureeing and serving.
- Depending on how you like the texture, use a handheld immersion blender to blend ⅓ to ½ of the soup. Or skip the blending if you like a firmer soup texture. If you don’t have an immersion blender puree 2 cups of the soup in a regular blender or food processor; include some of the the soup’s broth to blend smoothly. Be very careful when blending hot mixtures and never fill the blender/food processor more than ¼ the way full as hot liquids expand when blending.
- If waiting longer than one hour to serve, leave the soup pot on the stove but turn the burner to the lowest setting. You can leave it on the stove for 2-4 hours. If it gets too thick, just add another 1-2 cups water. This recipe is really flexible.
- Optional: Add one handful per person of chopped greens, like spinach or kale, to piping hot soup a few minutes before serving for even more flavor, nutrients and fiber. Add them last once you’ve turned off the heat so you don’t kill all of their nutrients, the greens will wilt from the heat of the soup in just a few minutes.
Happy soup making!