Although I’ve tried a lot of lentil soups, there’s only one that I’m a big fan of. I come back to this recipe time and time again. It’s healthy and delicious, and incredibly simple to make. It also happens to be vegetarian/vegan. It has simple spices (cumin and mustard seeds) and lots and lots of lemon juice. Don’t skimp on it.
I originally got the recipe from 101 Cookbooks years ago. It was tasty, but took a few more steps than I liked. Here’s my simplified version. It’s originally a red lentil soup, but I always use plain brown lentils I find in the grocery store. (That said, the soup in these pictures used red lentils since they were the same price at the store. I also forgot cilantro.) I usually use bottled lemon juice rather than juicing lemons. Often I use frozen spinach (I usually microwave it first) in the soup rather than fresh greens. Since it’s a pureed soup, we always serve it over brown rice. We usually get 4+ generous bowls of soup from this recipe.
To demonstrate how much I like this soup, and how forgiving it is: Once I didn’t have enough lentils, and used chickpeas instead. It reminded me a little of hummus, and it was still tasty. Sometimes I’m out of turmeric, and it turns out okay (although it is better with it). Sometimes I use kale in the soup instead of spinach, and sometimes I forget about leafy greens entirely; the soup still turns out delicious. Sometimes I forget it takes cilantro. Even when I have to make substitutions, I love this soup.
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds
- 2 cups lentils (brown ones are fine)
- 7 cups water
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 large bunch of spinach, chopped; or a small bunch of kale; or 12-16oz frozen chopped spinach
- Juice of 3 lemons (7-9 tablespoons)
- 1 cup chopped cilantro
- 2 cups cooked brown rice, to serve
- Heat olive oil in a large pot. Add onion and saute for about 10 minutes, until onion softens and becomes translucent. Add turmeric, cumin, and mustard seeds; stir and cook for another minute. Add lentils and water, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until lentils are tender. Add salt and remove from heat.
- Puree with a hand blender, or in a regular blender if you'd rather. Return to the pot and add the spinach. Cook over medium heat until spinach is heated and wilted. Add lemon juice to taste; soup will be tangy. Add cilantro and heat briefly to warm and wilt it. Remove soup from heat. Serve over rice.