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best lentil soup recipe (vegetarian)?

i've tried a couple but none are very flavorful...anybody got any good mom's lentil soup recipes?


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  1. I keep a batch of from-scratch tomato sauce (totally veggie) in the freezer for pasta dishes, to serve with grilled eggplant, whatever. A half-cup or so of this--it contains garlic, onion, grated carrot, and thyme as well as canned plum tomatoes--makes lentil soup a whole lot more interesting.

    1. I think it depends on your ingredients. I just made some lentil soup with chicken stock and a bunch of smoked/BBQ pork shoulder. It was very good, and very flavorful. I was thinking this morning of making some more out of some smoked chicken breast I have, but got sidetracked doing other things. You could try starting with a ham hock or other pork bone, or incorporating bone in chicken thighs or so. I agree that brown lentils alone can be boring, but there's no need to limit your soup to that....

      1. You can make a soup by starting with sauteed garlic, onions and peppers (green or red or both depending on preference). Once those are tender add vegetable stock (or chicken for non veggie) and i usually like to add ground cumin. It adds a nice smokey flavor. For a non-vegetarian version you can add some hot chorizo.

        1. For veggie lentil soup, I generally start with a couple of diced onions, four or five minced cloves of garlic, and at least a teaspoon of minced fresh ginger. Brown the onions well, then add the garlic & ginger & two or three whole cardamom pods and cook until fragrant. Add chili powder, cumin, black pepper, coriander, the lentils, and water to cover. Simmer until the lentils are tender, then add salt to taste, some additional minced garlic, a handful of chopped cilantro, and a little bit of cider vinegar. Cook until it reaches your desired consistency.

          1 Reply
          1. re: Hungry Celeste

            I made this tonight. I used a squeezed lemon rather than cider vinegar, and added some carrots with the onions. It was very excellent. The cardamom pods were a bit surprising to bite into though.

          2. Check out Deborah Madison's lentil soup recipe in "Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone." Her recipe is simple yet divine. She recommends sauteing onion, garlic, carrot, and celery with tomato paste which gives the soup a robust slightly smoky taste (and concetrates the flavors). The recipe is so easy, good, and healthy I never deviate from it!

            1 Reply
            1. re: bakemeacake

              I second the Deborah Madison recipe! I make a non-vegetarian lentil soup that includes pancetta and chicken stock, but when I want a completely vegetarian version hers is great.

            2. I sometimes use that "better than stock" or whatever it's called....better than broth? Mushroom flavor. It's verrrrry concentrated and makes a great addition to lentil soup. It really deepens the flavor and makes it more complex

              I also agree with the cumin addition.

              Bitter greens such as dandelion or broc. rabe are also great with lentil soup.

              Serve it with some Greek yoghurt mixed with chopped cilantro and green onions or some such flavorings.

              1. Here's a real simple recipe from the More-with-Less Cookbook put out a number of years ago by the Mennonite Central Committee:

                1 c. lentils
                2 1/2 c. water (or stock)
                2 bouillon cubes (if using water instead of stock)
                1 t. salt
                (It calls for a bay leaf, which I suppose is fine, but I don't like them, so I leave it out.)

                Bring to a boil and simmer 20 minutes.


                1/2 lb. diced ham, browned sausage, or browned ground beef (optional)
                3/4 c. tomato paste (1 can)
                2 c. water
                1/4 t. oregano
                1 t. salt
                1 onion, chopped
                2 stalks celery, chopped
                1 clove garlic, minced (I use more)

                Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer 20-30 minutes, until vegetables are tender. Serve plain or over rice.

                1. onions, carrots, and garlic and a little turmeric. cook the lentils first, then rinse. cook the aforementioned in butter and add lentils and water.
                  if you like vegetarian lentil soup, i highly recommend "vegetarian cooking of the middle east" available at amazon. lots of stuff like that. and simple recipes.

                  1. http://www.earth.li/~kake/cookery/rec...

                    This is a link to a version of an old Laurel's Kitchen recipe for lentil soup. It is suprisingly delicious given the simple ingredients. I use regular lentils only and it is fine. I think the secret is in the addition of vinegar. Enjoy!

                    1. I've always loved this recipe -- based on an old Gourmet magazine recipe. It's a freezer staple for me. But the other recipes on this thread look so good, I may have to stray from my "usual" for a while.

                      Curried Lentil Soup with Tomato and Spinach - basically, cook 1/2 cup onion in a little oil, then add a teaspoon of grated gingeroot and a clove of garlic, cooking for about a minute. Then, add 1 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, and 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin. You cook that mix for about 30 seconds, then add 1 1/4 cup water and 1/2 cup lentils. Boil and simmer covered for 5 min., then add 1 1/4 c. chicken or veg. broth and simmer for about 25 min., covered. To finish, add about 1/2 cup chopped drained canned tomatoes and 1 cup of chopped stemmed spinach leaves, cook for 2 minutes. Season w/salt and pepper and lemon juice (the lemon juice brings it all together).

                      It's really great, but I'll be trying all of these new recipes for a while!

                      1. Red lentils are also cheap and wonderful - i found a number of good variations of a spicy turkish red lentil soup recipes online. One i got from a Jerusalem post article... that has cumin, ginger, garlic, and red pepper flakes and cayenne, really good, and only takes 20 minutes.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cheesehead in recovery

                          All my lentil soups are now with red lentils -- they cook so much faster and have a delicious, light, flavor.

                        2. This recipe from Epicurious became a habit for me last winter. It is great but I also do like Italian style lentil soup with pancetta mortadella and sopressata. amongst other things. But this version is really different and loaded with flavor.

                          CURRIED LENTIL AND SPINACH SOUP

                          2 tablespoons olive oil
                          1 1/2 cups chopped onion
                          1 cup chopped celery
                          1 cup chopped peeled carrots
                          3 garlic cloves, minced
                          1 tablespoon curry powder (preferably Madras-style or McCormick’s Red Curry Powder)
                          1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger
                          1 teaspoon ground cumin
                          1 bay leaf
                          1/4 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
                          9 1/2 cups (or more) water
                          1 16-ounce bag dried lentils (about 2 1/2 cups)
                          1 6-ounce bag baby spinach leaves
                          1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
                          1/2 cup plain nonfat yogurt
                          Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Add next 4 ingredients; sauté until golden, about 10 minutes. Stir in curry powder, ginger, cumin, bay leaf, and dried crushed red pepper. Add 9 1/2 cups water and dried lentils; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer uncovered until lentils are tender, adding more water by 1/2 cupfuls to thin soup, if desired, about 25 minutes. Add spinach and cilantro; simmer until spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes. Season soup with salt and pepper. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Chill soup uncovered until cold, then cover and keep refrigerated. Rewarm soup over medium heat, thinning with water if desired before serving.)
                          Ladle soup into bowls. Top each serving with spoonful of yogurt

                          Makes 4 main-course servings.
                          Per serving: calories, 479; total fat, 9 g; saturated fat, 1 g; cholesterol, 1 mg
                          Bon Appétit
                          February 2003 Cooking for Health

                          1. I used to work in a restaurant where the sous chef made wonderful split pea soup. His technique, which could also apply to lentil soup, was to saute the usual aromatics at the beginning (carrot, onion, garlic, celery), cook the soup until it is thick, and then add more finely diced veggies about 15 minutes before it was done, so that you had some texture and something to chew on in the finished soup. And I definitely agree that cumin should be a part of the flavoring.

                            Sarah C

                            1. Mom didn't make it but I wish she had: Lebanese lentil, chard and lemon soup. See www.chowhound.com/topics/show/320583#...

                              The thread contains at least a couple more recipes for vegetarian lentil soup with taste appeal.

                              1. Burmese Lentil Soup! Super easy... unbelievably tasty:

                                6 cups water
                                1 cupt red, yelllow or brown lentils
                                1 tablespoon butter
                                1 small onion chopped
                                2 cloves garlic minced
                                1 1/2 teaspoons Garam Masala
                                1/2 teaspoon salt
                                1 chicken bouillon cube
                                1/2 cup finely chopped green onion

                                Boil water, add lentils, cook 20 mins.
                                Melt butter in skillet, add onion and garlic, saute til tender. Add to lentils, STir in Garam Masalle, salt and bouillon. Cook 10 mins longer. Sprinkle with green onions.

                                The butter and garam marsala are the secret ingredients, by the way.


                                1. Lentil soup

                                  This wonderful Egyptian dish is very nutritious. During winter, it is almost an essential dish on every dining table. It can even replace a vegetables main dish. You can serve it with croutons of fried Shami or Egyptian bread.
                                  Cuisine Egyptian
                                  Main ingredients Lentil, Carrots, Potatoes, Tomatoes, Cumin.
                                  Time of preparation 30 Minutes
                                  Time of cooking 30 Minutes
                                  Serving 4

                                  Ingredients 1 cup Yellow Lentils
                                  1 Carrot ,medium size
                                  1 Zucchini ,small size, (optional)
                                  1 Tomato ,large size
                                  1 Potato ,medium size
                                  3-4 Garlic Cloves
                                  1 pieces Onion , medium size
                                  2 tbsp Corn Oil Crystal ,or 1 tbsp butter
                                  1 cup Chicken Broth , or 1 chicken stock cube Fine Foods Knorr dissolved in 1 cup water
                                  1 1/2 tsp Cumin
                                  Salt and Pepper

                                  Directions 1. Peel all vegetables and chop into medium size pieces. Wash lentils very well several times and drain.
                                  2. Fill half a medium deep pan with water. Add lentils, carrot, tomato, potato and garlic. Leave to boil over high heat for 20-25 minutes. After 15 minutes add zucchini.
                                  3. Pour all components of pan in a blender. Blend well then strain in a medium bowl.
                                  4. In a medium deep pan, heat oil or butter over medium-high heat. Add strained vegetable mix, chicken broth, salt, pepper and cumin.
                                  5. Leave to boil for about 5 minutes. If texture of soup is thick, add more broth or water.

                                  Note: you can cut Shamy or Egyptian bread into bite sized squares, fry or broil them, and serve it with soup as croutons.

                                  1. Lentil Soup with Horseradish

                                    A really simple homey low-fat yet satisfying dish.

                                    Sautee in a pot mirepoix, but with more carrots than usual (standard mirepoix is 2pt.s onion, 1 pt. carrot, 1 pt. celery, all diced small)
                                    Add the lentils and bay leaf and enough water (water should cover lentils by 2 or 3 inches).
                                    After lentils are cooked (20-30 min.?) add to the pot fresh grated horseradish to taste, probably about 1/2 cup but if you have to use jarred then you'll have to use almost a whole jar. If using fresh horseradish, then add some vinegar to taste, maybe 2 Tbls more or less(cider is nice) salt now, and pepper.

                                    1. I don't follow a specific recipe. My version sounds similar to some of the ones already mentioned.

                                      I saute chopped onions with garlic and ginger, then add chopped carrots and celery. After the veg have softened a bit I throw in some curry powder and saute the mixture for a couple of minutes. I add enough water to cover, veg bouillon cubes and rinsed red lentils (they cook up really fast). I simmer until everything is cooked through and add a couple of tablespoons of soy/tamari sauce near the end. Then I puree the mixture with a handblender.

                                      1. For a really quick version, Trader Joe's (at least the ones here in Los Angeles) have cooked lentils that have been seasoned.(in the refrigerated food section) They're wrapped really tightly, so they last for months. Great last minute soup base.