Man prepping lentils to start making a vegan lentil soup

The Best Vegan Lentil Soup

By: Sara Tercero

One of my favorite easy and healthy recipes is vegan lentil soup. In my opinion, there are few soups that are cozier or more satisfying than lentil soup. This recipe is the best because it contains humble ingredients and subtle flavors than can be easily tweaked to favor anyone’s tastes. The bonus is that it is very good for you.

What are lentils?

Lentils are pulses, which means they are edible seeds from legume plants. There are brown lentils, green lentils, black lentils, red and yellow lentils. All types are easy and quick to cook, within 20-30 minutes or less.

What do lentils taste like?

Lentils have an earthy, mild and neutral flavor. That is why lentils are very versatile ingredients. Their flavor does not overpower or dominate, and they go well with most spices. For this vegan lentil soup recipe, we use brown lentils. This type is easy to find in most markets and has a pleasing hearty texture that is great in soups and stews.

Which lentils are healthiest?

All lentils have formidable nutrition profiles. They are ideal ingredients for healthy recipes. Each variety is high in protein, iron and fiber. Whichever lentil you eat, you can be sure they are nutritious.

How to make healthy Vegan Lentil Soup

Carrots, potatoes, squash, and kale chopped to be made into a tasty soup

The vegetable ingredients in this lentil soup recipe are available year-round and affordable. A significant sources of vitamin A, vitamin C, B6 and potassium, this soup is high in vitamins yet low in cost. That is why this healthy vegan lentil soup recipe is ideal for families or people on a stricter budget.

The ingredient list includes:

  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Carrots
  • Potatoes
  • Butternut squash
  • Crushed tomatoes
  • Kale
  • Lemon

This vegan lentil soup is minimally spiced. Mild spices allow the flavors of these whole food ingredients to shine. The taste profile is pleasantly smoky, tangy, sweet and earthy. The spices are easy to find in most pantries.

Spices include:

  • Salt
  • Black pepper
  • Smoked paprika
  • Crushed red pepper

Note that in this healthy lentil soup recipe, I don’t use any commercial stocks or bouillon cubes. Instead, I choose to make the flavors pop by first sautéing the veggies in a little oil and then adding them to the simmering brown lentils to make a homemade stock that fortifies the soup’s taste and nutrition without the added sodium of a store-bought soup base. 

Recipe: Vegan Lentil Soup

Close up of vegan lentil soup in bowl that is delicious and healthy

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 35 minutes

Serves: 8

Ingredients

  • 1-pound lentils
  • 1 teaspoon California Estate Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 onion, chopped small
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced in rounds
  • 2 potatoes peeled and diced in small cubes
  • 1 cup cubed butternut squash
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 (15 ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Pepper
  • Crushed red pepper
  • 1/2 lemon to squeeze
  • 1 bunch kale stemmed and chopped small

Directions

  1. First, rinse the lentils well to rid them of dirt or debris. Keep your eyes out for any rocks or foreign objects and remove them.
  2. Next, fill a large saucepan or soup pot with the lentils and enough water to cover the lentils, plus 3 inches above the lentil level. Bring the lentils and water to a boil over medium high heat and cook, stirring often, for 25 minutes until the lentils are soft.
  3. Meanwhile, in a skillet over medium heat, sauté onion and garlic in oil until fragrant, about 5 minutes.
  4. Next add carrots, butternut squash and potatoes and sauté for an additional 5 minutes, then add the half-cooked veggies into the pot with the boiling lentils.
  5. When the 25 minutes are up, check the lentils and potatoes. If they are soft, add the tomatoes, kale, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika. Simmer for 10 minutes to combine the flavors well.
  6. Last, taste for salt and adjust to your tastes. Serve with a sprinkle of crushed pepper, black pepper and a squeeze of lemon.

Tips for success

Bowl of vegan lentil soup that is made with brown and green lentils for hearty texture

Brown and green lentils vs. red

Brown and green lentils hold their shape well and have a hearty texture that makes them ideal for soup. Red lentils are split, so they cook very quickly and do not hold their shape well. They create a smooth and creamy texture which is better for curry recipes.

Salt

When cooking a healthy soup recipe, salt lightly. Soups become saltier as they cook. Taste at the end of cooking for salt and adjust, rather than salting heavily during the cooking process.

Lemon juice

Add squeezed lemon when serving this vegan lentil soup as it adds another bright layer of flavor.

What else can I add to the lentil soup?

Add a pinch or two of cayenne for a spicier soup. Add some fresh or dried herbs like oregano or mint for a fresh and zesty twist. This vegan lentil soup is a solid foundation to build upon and tailor according to your own tastes. That’s why this is the best vegan lentil soup recipe!

Are lentils good for you?

Lentil soup is a wonderful addition to a plant-based diet because lentils are packed full of nutrition. They are high in fiber, iron and plant-based protein. In fact, a half cup serving of cooked lentils boasts 12 grams of protein! Just a half a cup of these little beauties boasts 32% of your daily RDA of fiber and 15% of your iron. Their superior nutrition profile makes them a must for any plant-based eater or anyone who strives for healthy eating.

3 health benefits of lentils

Jar of dried lentils on blue cloth that can be cooked into a superfood

Lentils are heart healthy!

Lentils are a great source of fiber, folic acid, and potassium—nutrients which all support heart health, encouraging already-healthy cholesterol levels.

Lentils are good for your digestion.

Because they’re so high in fiber, lentils helps support your digestive system. If you experience occasional constipation, lentils are a great choice.

Lentils are antioxidants.

Lentils are a great source of health-promoting polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties.

Can you get enough vitamins and minerals from lentils?

Lentil soup with Life Extension plant-based multivitamin to compliment a vegan diet

Although a plant-based diet is very healthy, sometimes it is difficult to get all the nutrition needed from food. Therefore, it is important to supplement a balanced diet with a multivitamin.

What are multivitamins?

Multivitamins are combinations of vitamins and minerals. They are formulated as a safety net to fill in any gaps left and provide important nutritional components. Even someone who is well-versed in nutrition can benefit from taking a multi-vitamin.

I recommend Life Extension’s Plant-Based Multivitamin, which has been formulated to fill in the gaps in a plant-based eater’s diet.

About the Author: Sara Tercero is the chef behind the popular food blog BetterFoodGuru and the author of the cookbook Plant-Based Diet in 30 Days. Her specialties are veganized Indian-inspired curries, giant rainbow salads, and healthier Mediterranean and Mexican-inspired dishes. It is Sara's mission to prove that plants are delicious and to help others cook and eat their way to health and happiness.

Website: https://betterfoodguru.com

References

Scientifically Reviewed By: Holli Ryan, RD, LD/N

By: Sara Tercero