Vegan red lentil soup with carrots, lentils, and a tomato base. This simple soup is a weeknight staple and can be made with common pantry items like canned tomatoes, frozen spinach, and dried red lentils. It takes about half an hour from start to finish and freezes well. Skip to the recipe →
I’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback on my last post about sharing my favourite go-to recipes for every day. This is another recipe I make all the time, and it’s so great for 1. when I haven’t gotten groceries for three days, 2. when my budget is low, or 3. when I’m starving and need a quick and easy dinner that isn’t pasta. It can be finished in about half an hour, including prep time, which is just chopping carrots, onions, and garlic.
It’s an all around great simple recipe and makes good use of batch cooked ingredients and pantry staples like canned tomatoes and frozen spinach. It’s so budget friendly, especially at this time of year, as carrots are in season and so inexpensive and delicious. I’ve been making this for years but hadn’t written down the recipe until recently and I got such wonderful feedback on my instagram, including a bunch of messages, that I decided it was time to share it here.
Like all of my go-to recipes, this vegan red lentil soup one can be easily adapted to suit your tastes. I like to include lots of spices – cumin, turmeric, ginger – but I’ve also made it with just a little cumin and standard salt and pepper. You can switch out the carrots for sweet potato if you’d like. I use carrots because they’re much more available here in Germany and about 1/6th of the price of sweet potatoes, but in Canada I did it about half and half.
Other greens work well instead of spinach, and I’ve even added a couple of potatoes to the mix before. The brown rice can be replaced with quinoa, millet, or other grains, or simply left out and the soup served on its own. Like most soups, it can be altered, as long as you stay within the general guidelines. That being said, I’m sharing this version of the recipe because it’s the best one, so alter it at your own risk (at least the first time around!).
This makes a big pot of soup, far too much for my little two person family, but it freezes fantastically and I love having a few jars in the freezer. It’s a total life saver for busy or tired (read: burned out) days and since I usually have brown rice or sourdough bread around, it’s a meal.
If we’re having it for dinner and I don’t have either of those, I usually make these vegan spelt biscuits. I don’t mind having the soup on its own but let’s be real, carbs make everything better.
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- 1 teaspoon coconut or olive oil
- 1/2 red onion, chopped
- 5-6 medium carrots, about 3 cups chopped
- 3 cloves garlic, minced
- 3 cm piece fresh ginger, minced
- 1/2 teaspoon cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon turmeric
- 1/2 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, to taste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, to taste
- 400 grams (1 can) diced tomatoes
- 1.5 litres / 6 cups vegetable stock
- 1 cup red lentils, soaked*
- 150 grams / 1 cup frozen spinach*
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- Cooked brown rice, to serve
- In a large pot, heat the oil over medium. Add the onion and sauté for a couple of minutes or until soft and fragrant. Stir in the carrots, and cook for another minute or two. Add the garlic, ginger, and spices, stirring to coat the vegetables, to wake up the spices. Now add the salt and tomatoes, stir, and pour the vegetable stock in.
- Increase the heat to high and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Add the lentils and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the carrots are tender. Stir in the spinach and turn off the heat, letting the hot soup thaw the spinach. Add the lemon juice, taste, and season if necessary.
- Serve over brown rice and store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.
* Try to soak the lentils for 24 hours if you can. I like to soak red lentils as part of my batch cooking on the weekend and then freeze jars of them for this soup or red lentil patties. If you can't soak them or you forgot, just give them a rinse before adding them to the soup.
** If you want to use fresh spinach, go for about 100g and remove any larger stems.
• Using the heat from the soup to thaw the spinach has two purposes - it brings the soup down to an edible temperature, and it keeps the nutrients of the spinach largely intact. And the colour stays nice and green!