This Vegan Lentil Soup Recipe is deliciously comforting and cozy. Vegan Lentil Recipes are rich in plant based protein and fiber making them a healthy and satisfying choice. This easy homemade soup recipe is simple to make with wholesome ingredients and everyone will adore it.
This post has been updated from the original dated January 12, 2016. This post may contain affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases, at no additional cost to you.
THIS is the soup that will hit the spot….for whatever ails you. It’s warm and nourishing….like a big hug in a bowl. Homemade lentil soup is just what’s needed on cold days.
The BEST vegan lentil soup recipe out there….loaded with chunky veggies and plenty of umami flavor to leave you feeling full and satisfied.
A piping hot bowl of hearty lentil soup is a tasty and affordable meal all by itself. It’s well balanced with plenty of protein and fiber…vibrant, healthy comfort food that’s incredibly delicious.
Ingredients and Substitutions
- FRENCH LENTILS: I like how they hold their shape and have a slightly peppery, earthy flavor. You could substitute small black beluga lentils (they will cook more quickly), or larger green or brown lentils.
- DICED TOMATOES: Look for brands that have just one ingredient: tomatoes. You could use chopped fresh tomatoes (try for 3 cups).
- CARROTS: They add color, a bit of sweetness and Vitamin A.
- PARSNIPS: They will help bulk up the soup and when pureed add some creaminess. Parsnips are an excellent source of fibers, Vitamin C and potassium.
- KALE: Leafy greens like kale are full of antioxidants, fiber, vitamins A, C and K. If you don’t have green curly kale, add in another hearty green like collard greens, lacinato kale or purple kale. Make sure to chop or rip into small pieces so they’ll soften into the soup.
- ONIONS: These add flavor, without resorting to more salt, sugar and oil. Onions contain antioxidants and are anti-inflammatory. Good substitutions include leeks, purple onions or shallots.
- CELERY: Another wonderful flavor builder for soup, celery also contains vitamins, phytonutrients and can reduce inflammation.
- MINCED GARLIC: Awesome flavor enhancer. The antibacterial and immune boosting properties are released after the garlic has been cut and sitting for a bit.
- OLIVE OIL: If you’re going oil free, use some of the broth to saute the veggies. Otherwise, enjoy the extra creaminess the olive lends to the blended soup.
- BALSAMIC VINEGAR: THIS is what sets this soup recipe apart from others. This recipe may be vegan, but the balsamic lends an umami flavor that makes this soup super satisfying. If you don’t have a good quality balsamic, add in a Tablespoon of miso paste.
- FRESH THYME: I grow fresh herbs in a sunny window all year round because they offer so much flavor. If you don’t have fresh thyme, use oregano, or parsley. Alternately, substitute with dried herbs.
- SPICES: Cumin imparts a nice earthy flavor that pairs well with lentils. I like the little bit of heat from the crushed red pepper too. A pinch of cayenne would do the same job.
Lentils are popular in vegan diets because they are packed with both soluble and insoluble fiber, plus protein to help keep you full and energized.
They are used for soups, stews, salads and chili. Also, many plant based recipes use lentils for protein and texture. Lentils are easy to flavor with your favorite spices. Some of my favorite lentil recipes are Stuffed mini peppers, Zucchini Boats, Lentil Chopped Salad, Vegan Stuffed Cabbage, Lentil Tacos and Stuffed Peppers.
Unlike other legumes, lentils do not need to be soaked before cooking. They do need to be thoroughly rinsed in cold water and picked over to remove debris or shriveled lentils. You CAN soak them (from 30 minutes to 2 hours) before cooking to reduce the cooking time, and cut back on the lectin making them easier to digest.
Lentils come in several varieties:
- Brown: These have a higher fiber content, take less time to cook than green and have a mild, earthy flavor. Brown lentils are the least expensive and most popular type of lentils.
- Green: Have a harder outer layer, and take a bit more time to cook than brown lentils. They are often called French or Puy lentils because are grown in the French region of Le Puy. They retain their shape when cooked and are therefore a good choice for salads or tacos. Green French lentils also impart a bit of a peppery flavor.
- Black: Often called beluga lentils because they resemble beluga caviar. They are the most nutritious variety of lentils and have the shortest cooking time, though they are the least common lentils.
- Red/yellow: Red lentils are generally mild in flavor and smaller, often split. They’re used in stew and soups because they tend to fall apart when cooked. Yellow lentils are also generally split (fall apart easily like the red lentils)and are most commonly used in Indian cooking to make dal.
Why this is The Best Lentil Soup Recipe:
- Balsamic Vinegar….just a splash…gives this hearty vegan soup a distinct flavor full of satisfying umami taste.
- It’s loaded with chunky vegetables…and also a thick and creamy base.
- HIgh in plant based nutrition…without compromising on great taste.
- Made with affordable pantry ingredients.
- So easy to make….spend about 15 minutes prepping and stirring and then basically ignore while it works its magic.
- It’s meal prep and freezer friendly. Will stay good in the fridge for a week or the freezer for 3 months.
- Vegan Lentil Soup reheats like a dream.
- Hearty and nourishing enough for a Meatless Monday Meal
How to make Lentil Soup:
To the softened veggies, add in minced garlic, cumin, salt and crushed red pepper. Stir constantly as garlic becomes fragrant and spices are thoroughly mixed in.
Next, add in the rinsed lentils. Stir until lentils are well coated with spices.
Pour in the veggie broth and diced tomatoes. If there’s not enough liquid to cover all the veggies, add water 1/4 cup at a time. Fresh herbs like thyme can be added now with the stems. Stir well. Bring to a boil and then turn down to a low simmer and partially cover.
Simmer, partially covered for about 30 minutes, until lentils and veggies are tender, but not complete mush. Use an immersion blender to puree about 1/3 of the soup. You can also remove 2-3 cups of the soup and puree in a blender, then return to the pot. For a simple and easy cleanup, I recommend the immersion blender…also you can assess how much to puree and when to stop. Now you can stir in a splash of balsamic vinegar
Make sure to cut or rip the kale into bite sized pieces before adding to the soup pot. Mix in thoroughly and allow the kale to cook for about 5 minutes until totally wilted.
Sprinkle on some fresh parsley and enjoy this delicious homemade lentil soup.
How to make Lentil Soup in the Instant Pot
- Set the instant pot to the saute function and let it heat.
- Stir in onions and let them soften for 3-5 minutes.
- Then add in spices and garlic. Stir until fragrant and then add in celery, carrots and parsnips. Mix well.
- Stir in tomatoes, broth and fresh thyme.
- Seal Instant Pot and set to high pressure for 15 minutes.
- Let the pressure release naturally. This will take 10-12 minutes.
- Puree part of the soup with an immersion blender.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar, and add the kale.
- Seal the instant pot. Set the timer for 5 minutes. The kale will wilt without turning the instant pot back on if you haven’t hit “cancel”.
Debra’s Pro Tips
- Use good quality, aged balsamic for the best umami flavor.
- Make this ahead to let the flavors gel. If soup gets too thick, add a bit more broth and stir well.
- Serve with a simple salad for a really satisfying meal.
- Have all ingredients chopped and ready to go for the easiest prep.
- Freeze individual servings in zip-top bags that are labeled with the date. Lay them flat in the freezer to initially freeze and then move to wherever they fit best.
- I call this “HEALING” soup because it’s so nourishing. If you know someone who’s just had a baby or is ill. Someone who is grieving or mending a broken heart, THIS is exactly what they need.
Vegan Stuffed Mushroom FAQs
If you tried to soak them in water to rid them of dirt, your mushrooms will have a watery texture. Don’t clean your mushrooms with water. Mushrooms act like a sponge with any liquid and it’s hard to get that moisture out if you soak them. When mushrooms absorb water, it dilutes their flavor, and changes the texture. The best way to clean them is to gently brush off any dirt with a damp paper towel.
They can be. Sometimes vegetarian stuffed mushrooms contain cheese…but this vegan recipe is dairy-free…AND delicious!
It depends what you stuff them with! Mushrooms themselves are a healthy veggie options. They are LOADED with Vitamin D, which aids in the absorption of calcium and phosphorus….all are vital to the health and strength of our bones. This vegan and grain-free stuffing is made from wholesome veggies which means BOTH the mushrooms and the stuffing are healthy choices.
More Meatless Monday Meals:
- Vegan Meatloaf
- No Beef Stew
- Vegan Enchilada Casserole
- Meaty Stuffed Zucchini Boats
- Vegan Shepherd’s Pie with Sweet Potato Mash
- White Bean Chili
- 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil**
- 1 large onion, diced
- 4 large carrots, peeled and diced
- 4 stalks celery, diced
- 2 medium parsnips, peeled and diced
- 5 large cloves garlic, minced
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 1/2 cups French green lentils, rinsed
- 1 large can (28-oz) diced tomatoes
- 8 cups vegetable stock
- 1 sprig fresh thyme
- fresh parsley for garnish
- 1 Tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 cup curly kale, fibrous thick stems removed, broken or cut into small pieces.
- In a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium heat, add 2 Tablespoons olive oil or veggie broth and sauté onions, carrots, celery and parsnips for about 10 minutes to soften. Stir occasionally to prevent sticking to bottom of pot. Stir in garlic and spices and cook, while stirring until garlic is fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
- Stir in lentils to coat with spices.
- Add stock and tomatoes. If everything is not covered in liquid, add some water ½ cup at a time so that all veggies and lentils are submerged. Add a large sprig of fresh thyme. Bring to a boil and then turn the heat down so soup is at a simmer and partially cover. Cook for 30 minutes.
- Discard the stem from the thyme. The leaves should have come off into the soup.
- Use an immersion blender to puree about 1/3 of the stoup for a thick and creamy base.
- Mix in kale and allow to cook for 5 minutes to wilt.
- Stir in the balsamic vinegar. Taste for seasoning, adding more vinegar, crushed pepper or salt as desired.
- Garnish with fresh parsley.
- Soup will stay good in fridge, tightly covered for one week, or freeze for up to 3 months.
OLIVE OIL: I like the extra creaminess this little bit of oil adds to the soup. If you're not using oil, saute with 2-4 Tablespoons of the veggie stock.
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Amount Per Serving Calories 182Total Fat 5gSaturated Fat 1gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 4gCholesterol 0mgSodium 883mgCarbohydrates 23gFiber 8gSugar 8gProtein 7g
The nutrition calculations were done using online tools. To obtain the most accurate representation of the nutritional information in any given recipe, you should calculate the nutritional information with the actual ingredients you used. You are ultimately responsible for ensuring that any nutritional information is accurate, complete and useful.