Lentil soup is healthy, hearty, and easy to make. Lentils are cheap and nutritious. You can buy a pound of dried lentils for about a dollar. Besides being very budget friendly, they are an excellent source of protein and fiber. They are also high in iron, vitamin B6, folate, zinc, and magnesium. Considering the amount of nutritional value you get from a serving of lentils, they are one of the best foods to eat if your goal is to make a cheap healthy meal.
Lentils are also relatively quick and easy to prepare. They don’t require soaking ahead of time like most other types of dried legumes. Lentils also have a relatively short cooking time. You can cook lentils in as little as 30 minutes.
Although you don’t need to soak them, I would give dried lentils a quick rinse before cooking. Also, sift through them to look for any small pebbles, which are sometimes found in bags of dried lentils.
This recipe is made mostly with pantry ingredients but includes a few fresh ingredients such as freshly squeezed lemon juice. It may sound strange to add lemon juice to lentil soup, but trust me it adds a lot of fresh flavor and helps to heighten the flavors of the other ingredients. Also, you’re only using a few tablespoons so you won’t get an overpowering lemony taste.
To make lentil soup you start by sauteing onions, carrots, and celery. For seasoning, you add garlic, ground cumin, ground coriander, dried thyme, turmeric, and smoked paprika. You can replace the dried thyme with any dried herb of your choice, such as basil, oregano, rosemary, or a mix of dried herbs. The turmeric is added to give the soup a little more vibrant color. The smoked paprika provides a bit of a smoky flavor, as the name suggests. If you want a more spicy lentil soup, add some red pepper flakes as well.
Once the vegetables are cooked and seasoned, add canned diced tomatoes that have been drained. You can use about 2 cups of diced fresh tomatoes instead if you wish, but canned tomatoes generally work well in soups.
Then it’s time to add the dried lentils and broth and let everything simmer for about 30 minutes. If you want to make this soup vegan, use vegetable instead of chicken broth. Finish it off with the fresh lemon juice and maybe a little bit of chopped fresh herbs, like parsley.
This recipe makes a lot of soup, but it keeps well as leftovers for up to 5 days. It also freezes well. Just freeze it in individual servings and take it out to thaw the night before or the morning of the day you plan to use it.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped yellow onion
- 3 carrots, peeled and chopped
- 3 celery stalks, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp coriander
- 1/2 tsp dried thyme
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
- 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
- 1 tsp salt, more to taste
- 1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes, drained
- 1 cup dried lentils, brown or green
- 4 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
- 2 cups water
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, add more to taste if desired
- Heat oil over medium heat in a Dutch oven or large pot. Add onion, carrot, and celery and cook 5-7 minutes until onion is softened and translucent.
- Add garlic, cumin, coriander, dried thyme, turmeric, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook until fragrant, stirring for about 30 seconds.
- Add diced tomatoes and cook for 1-2 minutes.
- Add lentils, broth, and water and bring to a boil. Once it starts to boil reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30-35 minutes until lentils are soft.
- Add fresh lemon juice and stir.
- Store any leftovers in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to several months.