Using beans in soups and stews is a great way to create comforting, warming, veggie-friendly meals. Unfortunately, working with dried beans usually requires some planning, and I always forget to soak them overnight! Sure, you could always use our quick-soak method or pick up a can of beans, but I’ve started turning to lentils instead. This vegan lentil soup recipe doesn’t require any advance planning, and it comes together in only 30 minutes.
Because lentils are so small, you can skip the soaking step; simply add them to water and simmer away. That makes this low-calorie, gluten-free recipe a no-brainer for weeknight dinners. As a bonus, it tastes warm and comforting so even the meat-eating members of the family will love it.
Are Lentils Healthy?
If you’re following a plant-based or vegan diet, you’ll need to locate some good sources of plant-based protein. Protein not only helps you feel full, but it also helps your body function properly. Legumes like lentils are a great choice; they’re made of about 25 percent protein, and they’re chock-full of fiber, helping you feel full and satiated for hours after eating. Here are a few more ways to get your protein from plants.
As a bonus, lentils have a meatier texture than most beans, helping anyone new to a vegan diet feel like they’re not missing out. Add in a ton of vitamins, minerals and the fact that they’re inexpensive, and lentils may be your new go-to protein choice whether your a vegetarian or not!
Types of Lentils
This recipe calls for brown lentils, but there are a few different varieties available at the store. Brown, red, and green lentils are basically interchangeable. They take 20 to 30 minutes to cook through and break down pretty well, becoming mushy in texture. That adds body to soups and stews, thickening them up without the need for flour or cornstarch. Get our full guide for how to thicken up soups and sauces.
French lentils (also called Lentilles du Puy) have thicker skins and take longer to cook (about 40 to 50 minutes). They retain their shape exceptionally well and have a poppy-like texture, making them a good choice for salads and side dishes.
Finally, black beluga lentils are a bit of a hybrid. Like French lentils, they have thick skins which allow them to retain their shape if you cook them for fewer than 30 minutes. Cook them closer to 40 minutes, though, and they’ll split and break down like brown lentils.
Psst! Lentils are great in soup, but did you know you can use them in all kinds of veggie-friendly recipes? They make incredible tacos and burger patties. Check out our best lentil recipes.
How to Make Vegan Lentil Soup
This recipe makes six servings, but feel free to meal prep and double the recipe if you like. Cooked lentils store exceptionally well in the freezer, where they are good for up to six months.
- 4-1/2 cups water
- 4 medium carrots, sliced
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 2/3 cup dried brown lentils, rinsed
- 1 can (6 ounces) tomato paste
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon white vinegar
- 1 teaspoon garlic salt
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/4 teaspoon dill weed
- 1/4 teaspoon dried tarragon
- 1/4 teaspoon pepper
Step 1: Start simmering
This one-pot recipe starts with combining the water, carrots, onions and lentils in a large saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat before reducing the heat to a simmer. Cover the pan and simmer until the vegetables and lentils are tender, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Step 2: Add the flavor
When the beans and veggies are cooked, your soup is basically done. All that’s left is to infuse the dish with extra flavor from the spices! Stir in the remaining ingredients and boost the heat to return the soup to a boil. Then, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, uncovered, for about 5 minutes to let the flavors to blend.
Pro Tip: If this soup doesn’t have enough veggies for your liking, feel free to add some more! You can stir in 3 cups of chopped fresh kale, spinach, or rainbow chard during this step. Or, if you want to spice things up, add 3/4 teaspoon garam masala along with the other spices.
Looking for more cozy lentil soup recipes? Give these recipes a try.