This aromatic, nourishing lentil soup recipe is loaded with flavor from a rainbow of fresh veggies, perfectly cooked lentils, and a few pantry spices. It is gorgeous and delicious -- everyone will be asking for more!
With the weather so persistently cold I've been making plenty of light soups and stews for dinner. One of my go-to recipes, because it is just so cozy, hearty and comforting, is this amazing, one-pot vegan lentil soup.
This soup is easy to make and it tastes seriously amazing. As it simmers on the stove, it sends a divine aroma wafting around the house that brings everyone running to the dinner table.
Because brown lentils cook so quickly you don't have to pre-cook them. And if you have vegetable stock or mushroom stock to add deep, rich, slow-cooked flavor you can rest assured you will have a winner! Make and serve yourself a bowl today.
Table of Contents
Why you'll love this lentil soup recipe
- Amazingly delicious. This soup, albeit simple to make, is packed with complex flavors, including tons of umami from the tomato paste and mushrooms. The perfectly cooked lentils and the veggies add layers of texture, and coconut milk adds wonderful creaminess.
- So healthy. The lentils and veggies are great for you, of course, and the spices are particularly nourishing in winter because they help warm up the body and drive away the sniffles. There are just 156 calories and 8 grams each of protein and fiber in one serving!
- Everyone friendly. There are no nuts, soy and gluten in this recipe and it's vegan, of course. If you have kids who will eat mushrooms they will love this soup, but if they don't, you can always fish out the mushrooms for them. Or skip them altogether. To make the recipe free of added oils, skip the oil and sauté the veggies in ¼ cup vegetable stock.
- Easy to make. The recipe is made in one pot and this is a one-dish meal on its own, which makes things really easy on the cook.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Brown lentils. Brown lentils are nutty and they hold their shape beautifully when cooked, which gives this soup a lovely look. For substitutions, see FAQs below.
- Extra virgin olive oil. Olive oil makes this dish healthier, and adds its own fruity flavor. You can substitute with coconut oil or any other oil.
- Vegetables: onion, celery, carrot and cremini or button mushrooms. I love this combination of vegetables, but you can switch up with vegetables of your choice, including zucchini, cauliflower, green beans, green peas, winter squash, potatoes and sweet potatoes.
- Spices: paprika, ground cumin and curry powder. These add complexity and flavor to the soup as well as a tantalizing aroma.
- Tomato paste. Tomato paste adds a deep richness and umami to the soup.
- Apple cider vinegar. This helps deglaze the pan and adds more complexity to the flavor of the lentil soup.
- Vegetable stock or vegetable broth. You can also use mushroom stock. Stock adds more depth of flavor but if you don't have it you can also use water.
- Herbs: garlic, dried mint and chopped fresh cilantro (or parsley). The dried and fresh herbs add more delicious flavor and freshness to this soup.
- Coconut milk. Coconut milk adds luscious creaminess and more healthfulness to this lentil soup recipe, so don't skip.
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
How to make lentil soup
Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery and carrots along with a good pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions start to brown.
Stir in the garlic and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes.
Stir tomato paste into the roasted veggies and continue sauteing for a couple more minutes.
Stir in the mushrooms and let them cook a couple of minutes.
Add apple cider vinegar to the pot to deglaze the fond that has developed at the bottom of the pot and scrape those tasty bits up.
Stir in the paprika and ground cumin.
Add the lentils to the pot and stir them in...
...followed by the vegetable stock.
Stir in the mint. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and let it simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Don't overcook the lentils to the point where they will disintegrate--you want them whole so they make for a nice presentation.
Stir the coconut milk and curry powder and immediately turn off the heat. Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
Recipe FAQs and Troubleshooting
Lentils are among the healthiest foods you can consume. They are loaded with heart-healthy fiber and protein and they have negligible quantities of fat. Lentils also contain a host of minerals, including iron, selenium and folate.
The vegetables, including carrots, celery, tomatoes, mushrooms and onions, further boost the nutrient profile of this delicious lentil soup.
Sure. Using canned lentils will bring down cooking time by just about 10-15 minutes because dried lentils cook quickly. But if you are looking to use up canned lentils, just add them at the same time as you'd add the dried lentils, but reduce simmer time after that to about 5-10 minutes.
You can use pink lentils, brown lentils, green lentils, puy lentils and beluga lentils in this soup. Cooking time for different lentils will vary slightly -- just make sure you cook the lentils until they are tender.
This lentil soup has 156 calories per serving and 8 grams of protein. It also has 8 grams of fiber per serving.
Storage and freezing tips
- Refrigerate: The lentil soup tastes great the next day and you can store it in the fridge for up to four days.
- Freeze: Freeze the soup in an airtight container for up to three months.
- Defrost and reheat. Keep in mind that the coconut milk can get a curdled appearance after freezing, but it will taste just fine. If you plan to freeze the soup for later right after making it, don't add the coconut milk -- add it instead when you reheat before serving.
More vegan soup recipes
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Lentil Soup Recipe
- 1 Dutch oven (or any large pot with lid)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (coconut oil is fine, or any vegetable oil. To keep this free of added oils use ¼ cup vegetable stock instead of oil.)
- 1 medium onion (finely chopped)
- 2 stalks celery (finely chopped)
- 1 medium carrot (finely chopped)
- 4 cloves garlic (minced or crushed)
- 1 heaping tbsp tomato paste
- 8 oz cremini mushrooms (or button mushrooms)
- 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 cup brown lentils (or green lentils. Dried, not cooked)
- 4 cups vegetable stock (or water)
- 1 teaspoon dry mint
- 2 heaping tsp curry powder
- ½ cup coconut milk
- Salt and ground black pepper to taste
- 2 tablespoon cilantro (or fresh parsley, chopped)
- Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch oven. Add the onions, celery and carrots along with a good pinch of salt and ground black pepper. Saute, stirring frequently, until the onions start to brown.
- Stir in the garlic and continue sauteing for a couple of minutes.
- Stir tomato paste into the roasted veggies and continue sauteing for a couple more minutes.
- Add in the mushrooms and let them cook a couple of minutes.
- Add apple cider vinegar to the pot to deglaze the fond that has developed at the bottom of the pot and scrape those tasty bits up.
- Stir in the paprika and ground cumin.
- Add the lentils to the pot followed by the vegetable stock. Mix well.
- Stir in the mint. Bring the soup to a boil. Cover and let the soup simmer for 20-25 minutes or until the lentils are tender. Don't overcook the lentils to the point where they will disintegrate--you want them whole so they make for a nice presentation.
- Stir the coconut milk and curry powder and immediately turn off the heat.
- Garnish with cilantro and serve hot.
- If you use canned lentils, simmer the stew for just 5-10 minutes after adding the lentils.
- Chop the carrots, celery and onions as finely as you can. You want the veggies to not be much larger than the cooked lentils for the best flavor. The only exception are the mushrooms, which should be sliced.
- The coconut milk makes this soup very creamy, and the whole lentils give it a very pretty look. However, if you wish, you can blend a couple of ladlefuls of the soup after it has cooked and add the purée back to the pot for additional creaminess. You can also use an immersion blender for this but be careful not to overblend.
- You can use green lentils or red lentils or French lentils or beluga lentils in this soup, or you can even make it with red lentils, which would cook even faster.
- I don't add chili pepper (other than paprika, which is mild) because the curry powder has some heat. For a spicier soup stir in some red pepper flakes with the cumin and paprika.
- You can add other veggies to this soup to make it even more nutritious. Cauliflower, zucchini, bell peppers, cabbage and most leafies like kale, spinach and watercress would be great additions. You can also add longer-cooking veg like potatoes, sweet potatoes or eggplants, cut into small cubes.
- Increase or decrease the amount of curry powder depending on how much of the flavor you like in your soup. Some curry powders can be spicy, so make sure you factor that in, especially if you're serving it to kids.
- The soup tastes great the next day and you can store it in the fridge for up to four days.
- Freeze the soup in an airtight container for up to three months. Defrost and reheat. Keep in mind that the coconut milk can get a curdled appearance after freezing, but it will taste the same. So if you plan to freeze the soup for later right after making it, don't add the coconut milk -- add it instead when you reheat before serving.