Vegan Lentil Soup

My mom loves to add beans into soup and as a child, I never liked the texture of it. I like brothy soups, so this extra ingredient sitting in the bottom of my soup bowl was not a welcomed addition.

However, I always had to eat it because my mom doesn’t like to waste food (and neither should you). She made sure I finished my bowl, as much as I disliked it. So, it’s a bit funny that the first thing I decided to do with my brand new bag of lentils is make a soup out of it.

You see, I bought a bag of lentils a few months ago as an attempt to add something a bit healthier into my diet. It’s undoubtedly a great source of protein and rich in fiber. As healthy as it is, the bag of lentils just sat in my pantry for months. It felt so uninspiring to me and I really didn’t know what to do with it.

Then inspiration hit. I was eating falafels at Moumon’s in St. Mark’s (which, by the way, is a great cheap eats in NYC) and I had a spoonful of my friend’s lentil soup. It tasted like a spoonful of heaven and I knew I had to try to make it myself.

I found a number of recipes online, but none of them seemed to fit what I had at Moumon’s. Some had tomatoes in it, some with spinach, but nothing seemed to capture the middle eastern flavors of the soup that I took a bite of. So I took the most common theme between the recipes and made it my own.

It begins with carrots, onions, celery, garlic and of course, lentils! Then, I added cumin and cayenne pepper for a touch of middle eastern flavor plus some heat.

After I softened the vegetables, I added the spices to toast it, helping the flavors develop. A minute later, in goes the lentils and then the broth. Finally, on to the easy part, bring to boil and simmer for at least an hour.

One of the tricker parts is that the lentils soak up so much liquid that it becomes much thicker than the original broth to lentil ratio. Add extra water to your soup as you like, so that it’s as brothy as you like.

Once the lentils become tender, you also have the option to blend the soup to make it smoother in consistency, but I liked mine thick so I left it alone. If you’re making this for the Clean Program, then definitely blend it.

Finally, garnish with chopped parsley and fresh lemon juice to brighten everything up. The lemon juice goes a long way to help add an extra element to the soup, so don’t miss this key ingredient!

I’ve been throughly enjoying my pot of lentil soup. It’s hearty, flavorful and just perfect for this weather. I’ll have to go back to Moumon’s soon and compare!

Vegan Lentil Soup

Makes 4 servings

8 oz green lentils (half of a 1 lb bag)
1 medium onion, diced finely
2 stalks celery, diced finely
1 large carrot, diced finely
1-2 clove garlic, diced
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 cups vegetable broth, plus water as you need
1.5 tablespoon cumin
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
salt, to taste

squeeze of fresh lemon juice

1. Prep vegetables & lentils. If you haven’t already, dice all your vegetables. Also, be sure to rise off the lentils and pick out any lentil that looks like it doesn’t belong.

2. Soften vegetables. In a medium saucepan, heat up your olive oil in medium heat. Add the onions, garlic, carrots and celery. Cook for about 5-6 minutes, until the onions are slightly softened. Add the cumin and cayenne pepper and let it cook for another 2 minutes.

3. Add lentils & broth. Once the spices cook for a little bit, add the lentils. Give that a quick stir and add the broth. The broth should cover the lentils. If it doesn’t, add more broth or water. It’s up to you. Allow to boil and reduce to low heat to cook and simmer. 

As the lentils rehydrate, you may have to add more water or broth to your soup. I checked in on my soup every half hour, and it was done about 1 hour in. Wait until your soup is done before you season with salt. Season to taste. I didn’t add too much to mine.

4. Garnish & serve! When you’re ready to serve, chop up some parsley to top off your bowl of soup. Squeeze some lemon juice on top, trust me, you really shouldn’t miss this step! 

Leave a Comment


  1. Elaine Liu wrote:

    what kind of lentils did you use? as in what color? i think each lentil type takes different times to cook so I was just curious which one did you use such that it cooked in an hour without rehydrating them beforehand.

    Posted 3.3.13 Reply
  2. Shelly wrote:

    Hi Elaine! I used green/brown lentils from Goya. I would recommend trying the lentils after an hour's cook time and see if it's been cooked enough. If it's not soft enough, cooking it for an extra 15-20 minutes won't hurt.

    Posted 3.3.13 Reply
  3. Shelly wrote:

    Hi Elaine! I used green lentils from Goya (they look a bit brown). I would recommend trying the lentils after an hour's cook time and see if it's been cooked enough. If it's not soft enough, cooking it for an extra 15-20 minutes won't hurt.

    Posted 3.3.13 Reply