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.
Think of this recipe as a guide and method to making lentil soup; add any herbs, spices or veggies that you’d like and make it your own. Once you get the hang of it you won’t even need to refer back to a recipe.
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar (aged balsamic also works)
1 teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon course 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 at a good price at the store. Spinach is always a great option and has a mild favor. You’ll need about one handful of washed greens per person.
Spread the lentils out on a large sheet tray and pick out any debris (aka 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.
Pre-soaking really depends on personal preference; it helps soften the lentils faster but is not always necessary. I typically do not presoak my lentils. If you want to soak, pour the lentils into a large bowl and cover with purified water by 2 inches. If you’ve thought ahead enough, cover the bowl with a kitchen towel and leave it on the counter for 8 to 12 hours. Drain the lentils and rinse them well before using.
While the lentils soak, heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large soup pot. Add the chopped onion, carrot and celery and cook until tender, about 5 minutes.
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. Be careful not to burn the garlic–turn the heat down if necessary as garlic burns easily.
Add the bay leaf, rest of the salt and pepper, stock, water and soaked, rinsed lentils to the pot and bring to a full boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer. 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 and 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
Looks yummy Elizabeth! Quick question, last time I cooked lentils (red, I believe) I soaked them and cooked them and they turned to mush even following cooking instructions. I thought may be the soaking caused this, I’m confused. Thoughts?
Lisa, glad to hear it! This is one of my favorites, too. Thanks for stopping by to comment. ~E
October 25th, 2018 at 3:00 pm
Was searching for a lentil soup recipe without tomatoes and decided to give this one a try last night. Was a hit with 3 out of 4 of us… not too bad since the little guy is pretty picky so he doesn’t count. My 8 year old went back for a third serving! Thank you 🙂
December 17th, 2018 at 7:47 pm
Made your easy lentil soup. Everyone raved about it, came out excellent. I added a pinch of thyme and rosemary, only difference. Thank you.
Hi Connie, glad to hear it! I love this recipe, too. Never fails 🙂 Thanks for stopping by to share your comment with our community. ~E
December 28th, 2018 at 5:18 pm
I like your lentil soup recipe except for the hand full of spinach at the end because spinach contains a lot of oxalic acid. Oxalic acid binds with minerals especially calcium and prevent minerals from being utilized properly. Southerners blanch their greens for 30 seconds, remove from the hot water then immerse them in ice or very cold water . Then squeeze them and chop them and cook however they want them. Having a southern grandma and a Japanese mother, they both agreed this was the proper way to cook greens. The Japanese say that you will get kidney stones if you don’t blanch your greens. Mom would toast and grind sesame seeds and mix them with a little sesame seed oil and soy sauce to pour over cold blanched spinach to eat as a side or put in sushi rolls. Only turnip and mustard greens do not need to be blanched. I recently read that many people were found to have high levels of oxalic acid. There was no other information as to why. I studied nutrition in college where I learned about oxalic acid. So I will add some blanched spinach to my lentil soup.
March 27th, 2019 at 12:51 am
This was truly delicious! It’s hearty and flavorful, and the lentils are really satiating. I used regular brown lentils, did not soak them, nor did I blend them at the end. Thank you Elizabeth!
April 14th, 2019 at 3:50 am
Tried several receipes and yours was not only the best but also easy to follow thanks 😊
April 14th, 2019 at 7:54 pm
Elizabeth, do you have nutritional information for this soup? Making it for dinner tonight and I track every thing in myfitnesspal! Thank you