This post was originally published in September 2017. It has been updated as of May 2020 with improvements to the text and recipe, and a video added.
There are a handful of recipes that I’ve shared over the years that I make about once a week – red lentil falafel, potato lentil salad, raw chocolate, sourdough rye bread – my standards. Seriously, there’s a rye bread rising on the counter right now and I made the lentil falafel for dinner tonight.
This red lentil soup 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 in spring or autumn when carrots are in season and so inexpensive and delicious.
Like all of my go-to recipes, this vegan red lentil soup 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 the Netherlands 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 (like chard or kale), 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.
Though the recipe card calls for vegetable stock, this is mostly because I get readers sending me messages annoyed if I list water instead of stock. I use water most of the time and just season properly (since most store bought veg stock is primarily salt, and a touch of fat).
Tips and Notes
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 coconut oil biscuits. I don’t mind having the soup on its own but let’s be real, carbs make everything better.
Like all soups, there are a couple of tricks to keep in mind. This is a very flavourful one, with plenty of spices, tomatoes, and vegetables adding a lot – but if you taste the soup at the end of cooking and it tastes bland or flat, you need salt or acid. If it tastes salty enough, add a squeeze of lemon. Most of the time vegan soups are lacking salt, though. Season your food!
More Great Soups
Kale, White Bean, and Lemon Soup
Roasted Tomato, Zucchini, and Eggplant Soup
Creamy Cauliflower Potato Soup
Chickpea Noodle Soup
Spring Green Minestrone
Or, check out this collection of cozy cold weather soup recipes!
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Carrot, Red Lentil, & Spinach Soup
- 1 teaspoon olive oil
- ½ red onion chopped
- 5-6 medium carrots about 3 cups, cut into 1cm (3/4 in.) slices
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 3 cm piece fresh ginger minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon fresh ground pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper to taste
- 1 teaspoon sea salt to taste
- 400 grams canned diced tomatoes
- 1.5 litres vegetable stock
- 150 grams red lentils
- 150 grams frozen spinach**
- Juice of 1/2 a lemon
- 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. Now add the salt and tomatoes, stir, and pour the vegetable stock in.
- Increase the heat to high, cover the pot, and bring the soup to a rolling boil. Add the lentils and reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 20-25 minutes, covered, or until the carrots are tender.
- Stir in the spinach and turn off the heat, letting the hot soup thaw the spinach with the lid on. Add the lemon juice, taste, and season with salt if necessary.
- Serve over brown rice and store leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer.