This lentil soup is anything but plain and boring. This simple and hearty recipe when done right is a guarantee request for seconds. It is a perfect winter soup, best part it is naturally vegan.
Once it gets cold out lentil soup is one of my go to recipes right there with chicken soup and butternut squash soup. It is a hearty dish that is healthy and perfect for those who are vegetarian or vegan. I think one of the only things I make more than this soup is chili because I cannot get enough especially when paired with my favorite, cornbread, or for my friends in the Midwest a cinnamon roll. Another reason I like it is because it is really easy to make.
In this recipe
This recipe is made with many household staples. You will probably have most of these ingredients somewhere in your kitchen well possibly everything but the lentils if you don’t eat them often. Here are some of the ingredients you will want to keep an eye out for.
Lentils: when it comes to getting lentils you can use red, green, or brown. The important thing is that you get them dried.
Vegetable broth: this will add additional flavor instead of just using water. If you prefer you can also make this with chicken or beef broth. For a less intense flavor I would cut beef broth in half and use vegetable broth for the other half.
Canned tomatoes: the reason for this instead of fresh tomatoes is that it takes longer than then lentils to cook for the tomatoes to break down enough in the soup to really give it the flavor.
Chopping the veggies
One of the things that is important is to try and chop the vegetables about the same size. This will help with making sure they all cook evenly when you saute the mirepoix at the beginning of the recipe. Mirepoix is the combination of carrots, celery, and onion which is used in a lot of broths, soups, and other recipes. You will want to make sure the onions have gone translucent. For a richer flavor let them caramelize for a few minutes. Add the garlic after that since it will burn easily and that will make for an unpleasant soup.
Cooking the herbs
There is a secret weapon to cooking with herbs and spices. Especially when a liquid is involved. You want to toast or cook them a little bit before you add your liquid to the pot or pan. The heat will help release the compounds in them that will really enhance the flavor. In this case since these are dried herbs you don’t want them directly on the bottom of the pot since they will burn easily. You can get around that by adding it to the mirepoix before adding a liquid and cooking until the herbs become night and fragrant. You’ll thank me later.
Making lentil soup
Once you add the lentils you are going to want to let them cook for at least an hour. Make sure that they stay covered. Most of the liquid will be absorbed by the lentils very similar to how rice works. This is also the reason that you want dried lentils instead of cooked or canned lentils. If you were to go that route the water would not be absorbed and it would start to get starchy as the lentils would start to break down. Also they wouldn’t have time to absorb all of those delicious flavors you spent time building.
Looking for other vegetarian recipes?
- Dutch oven or large pot
- Spatula or spoon
- 8 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups dry lentils
- 14.5 ounces diced tomatoes 1 can
- 1½ cups carrots chopped
- 1½ cups celery chopped
- 1½ cups onion chopped
- 1 cup spinach rinsed and thinly sliced
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 tablespoons garlic minced
- ½ tablespoon dried oregano
- ½ tablespoon dried basil
- 1 tablespoon ground black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 bay leaf fresh or 2 dried
- In a Dutch oven or large soup pot heat oil over medium heat. Add the onions, carrots, and celery stirring occasionally until the onions become translucent, about 3 to 5 minutes. Add in garlic, bay leaf, oregano, and basil and cook until fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add the broth, tomatoes, salt, pepper, and lentils. Bring to a boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover and cook until the lentils are tender, at least 1 hour.
- Just before serving add the spinach to the pot and the heat will cause the spinach to wilt.