Lentil-Tomato Soup Recipe photo by Taste of Home
Total Time
Prep: 15 min. Cook: 30 min.
You'll love this flavorful, warm and comforting vegan lentil soup recipe whether you follow a plant-based diet or not.

Updated: Jan. 30, 2024

Using beans in soups and stews is a smart and tasty way to make vegetarian meals without breaking the bank. However, working with dried beans usually requires planning ahead of time. That’s where lentils come in to save the day. This super easy vegan lentil soup recipe doesn’t require advance planning, and it comes together in a single pot in only 30 minutes.

Because dried 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 and 100% plant-based 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.

Types of Lentils for Vegan Lentil Soup

All lentil types add body to liquids as they cook, and they’re an easy way to thicken soups and stews without resorting to flour or cornstarch. While this recipe calls for dried brown lentils, there are a few varieties of lentils available at the store, and they don’t all cook exactly the same.

Brown and green lentils are basically interchangeable and both hold their texture and shape well (green lentils are a bit more peppery in flavor). They take 20 to 30 minutes to cook through, whereas red and yellow lentils may become a bit mushier more quickly. Opt for red or yellow lentils if you prefer a more pureed soup.

For more bite in your soup, try French lentils (also called Lentilles du Puy), which are smaller but have thicker skins and take longer to cook (about 40 to 50 minutes). Since they retain their shape exceptionally well, they’re typically a good choice for salads and side dishes. If you want your lentils to develop a deeper flavor and don’t mind the extra cooking time, they can also be used in soups.

Similarly, black beluga lentils have thick skins which allow them to retain their shape. Only cook those for 30 minutes or less. Otherwise, they’ll split and break down like brown lentils.

Can you used canned lentils in vegan lentil soup?

Whatever lentils you prefer, just make sure to skip the canned lentils for this recipe. Not only are dried lentils more cost-effective and healthier, but they also soak up the flavors as they cook. Canned lentils are mushy from the get-go and will disintegrate the longer you cook them.

Vegan Lentil Soup Ingredients

Vegan Lentil Soup IngredientsTMB Studio

  • Water
  • Carrots
  • Onion
  • Brown lentils
  • Tomato paste
  • Fresh parsley
  • Brown sugar
  • White vinegar
  • Garlic salt
  • Dried thyme
  • Dill weed
  • Dried tarragon
  • Pepper

Directions

Step 1: Start simmering

How To Make Vegan Lentil SoupTMB Studio

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

How To Make Vegan Lentil SoupTMB Studio

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 combine and deepen.

Vegan Lentil Soup Variations

The best part about lentil soup is how super customizable it is. Try one of the following suggestions or combine them—you really can’t go wrong.

  • Substitute vegetable broth and freshly minced garlic instead of water and garlic salt for an even deeper flavor.
  • You can skip some of the herbs if you don’t have them available. To retain flavor, swap them for other spices and herbs from your pantry like bay leaves, oregano or paprika.
  • If this recipe doesn’t have enough veggies for your liking, feel free to add whatever needs to be used up in your veggie crisper. For example, you can stir in 3 cups of chopped fresh kale, spinach or rainbow chard during the first step for extra nutrients.
  • Add ground tofu or your favorite plant-based ground meat for more texture and protein.
  • If you want to spice things up, add 3/4 teaspoon garam masala along with the other spices.
  • Pour in half a can of unsweetened coconut milk, two teaspoons of curry powder and a teaspoon of minced ginger for an insanely delicious coconut curry lentil soup.
  • If you want to add meat, stir in 1/2 pound chopped fully cooked turkey sausage.

How to Store Vegan Lentil Soup

Double the recipe (so your future self thanks you) because vegan lentil soup keeps really well in the fridge and freezer. Once the leftover soup is cool, pour it into an airtight container and keep it in the fridge for up to five days. Reheat your soup over the stovetop whenever you’re ready. You can also freeze leftover lentil soup once cool and keep it in a freezer-safe container or bag for three to five months.

Make sure to fully and safely thaw it in your fridge before heating it back up over the stovetop. Can’t get enough of lentil soups? These lentil soup recipes will keep you warm all season.

Tips for Making Vegan Lentil Soup

How To Make Vegan Lentil SoupTMB Studio

How can you thicken or thin vegan lentil soup?

Prefer heartier vegan lentil soup? Thicken it by letting it simmer for a bit longer so that the lentils break down more. You can also add unsweetened plant-based milk like coconut milk or soy milk to make a creamy soup. Alternatively, make a slurry from water and flour or add a starchy veggie like diced or pureed potato to thicken the soup.

If your lentils absorbed a bit too much liquid, add additional water or veggie broth to thin it out. Just adjust the seasonings to taste.

How else can you cook vegan lentil soup?

There’s something truly magical about coming home to dinner already made, and we’re happy to report that you can make lentil soup in a slow cooker. Place all of the ingredients (except the vinegar—you can save that for last) into a 4-quart slow cooker. Cover and cook on the lowest setting for about 8 hours, until the lentils are fully cooked through.

What can you serve with vegan lentil soup?

While vegan lentil soup is super filling on its own, stretch the meal and take it to the next level by serving it with sides for soup or vegan side dishes. Keep it simple with rice or fresh, crusty bread like a baguette for dipping and mopping up the soup. Should you decide to go the curry or garam masala route, make vegan garlic naan, which adds even more delightful flavors.

Is vegan lentil soup healthy?

Overall, vegan lentil soup is healthy. It can be challenging to figure out how to get protein on a plant-based diet. Protein not only helps you feel full, but it also helps your body function properly. Legumes like lentils are a great choice. There are 12 grams of protein in one 1/2-cup serving, and while they’re low in calories, they’re chock-full of fiber and iron. These nutrients will help you feel satiated and energetic hours after eating.

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. Throw extra vegetables into your vegan lentil soup, and you’ve got an even healthier meal full of vitamins and minerals.

With that being said, healthiness depends on preparation and quality of ingredients. Canned lentils often have high sodium content, which can cause health problems such as hypertension. To cut down on sodium, we recommend using dried lentils and adding a small amount of salt.

Lentil-Tomato Soup

Prep Time 15 min
Cook Time 30 min
Yield 6 servings.

Ingredients

  • 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

Directions

  1. In a large saucepan, combine the water, carrots, onion and lentils; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until vegetables and lentils are tender. Stir in the remaining ingredients; return to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes to allow flavors to blend.

Nutrition Facts

3/4 cup: 138 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 351mg sodium, 27g carbohydrate (9g sugars, 9g fiber), 8g protein. Diabetic Exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 1 lean meat.

Double the recipe and share this hearty soup with neighbors and loved ones on cold winter nights. I serve it with cornbread for dunking. —Michelle Curtis, Baker City, Oregon