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Out of this world vegetarian lentil soup?

I always use chicken stock in my lentil soup. I'd like ot make a vegetarian version for some guests. Anyone have a to die for version they wouldn't mind sharing?

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  1. If you love your basic recipe, then why not sub veg stock or mushroom stock for the chicken stock?
    What kind of lentils are you thinking of cooking and what do you want the flavors to be? French, Indian, Middle Eastern, what?

    4 Replies
    1. re: Rasam

      i use french lentils.

      HOnestly I haven't found a veggie stock I like and my attempts to make one have never been that great either. It's why I"ve always used chicken stock in my vegetable soups. I'm open to suggestions on a good stock - either that I can pick or make.

      1. re: ziggylu

        The Kitchen Basics brand roasted vegetable stock (green aseptic package) is about as good as I've had for a packaged stock. Another tip (when using premade stock) is to dilute it somewhat. While the Kitchen Basics ones aren't over-salted, I still like to dilute a little with water. The Imagine brand "No-Chicken" broth is also pretty Ok as these things go, though if you eat meat & make your own chicken stock, it probably won't impress you.

        For homemade stock, I'm a fan of this recipe from the yellow Gourmet cookbook:
        You can make a big batch, reduce, and freeze into cubes for later use.

        The homemade is better, and I try to make my own for risotto, paella, and that sort of thing, but for a lentil soup, I'd be tempted to use the packaged one... just me.

        My favorite lentil soup is this "lentil and everything but the kitchen sink" soup, which I think originally is from some Dean Ornish cookbook or something along those lines. Despite being from this spa / healthy food cookbook, it's really tasty, and I like that it's not only lentils. The tomato juice adds some color and a savory component even when the stock is made with just water. Don't know if there's too much other stuff going on for what you're trying to do, but just in case it helps, here it is.

        Lentil Soup

        1 Cup lentils
        1 clove garlic minced
        2 stalks celery, sliced
        1/2 cup onion
        1 tablespoon margarine
        1 cup grated carrot
        1 1/2 - 2 cups coarsely chopped potato
        6 cups water
        1 cup tomato juice
        1 tsp salt
        1 tsp thyme
        1/3 cup rice
        1 1/2 cups frozen corn
        1 tablespoon soy sauce

        Place lentils in a bowl and cover with water.
        In a large pot, saute garlic, celery, and onion in margarine until tender.
        Stir in carrot and potatoes.
        Drain water from lentils and add lentils to vegetables.
        Add water, tomato juice, salt, thyme and brown rice. Bring to a boil.
        Reduce heat, cover and simmer until lentils and potatoes are tender.
        (about 30 minutes
        )Add corn and soy sauce and cook 10-20 minutes more.

        Makes 10 one cup servings.

        Good call on using the DuPuy lentils. Obviously you can use oil instead of butter or margarine, use more salt than the recipe calls for, and you can sub stock for the water if you like. I sometimes substitute other grains or other types of rice, and I often omit the frozen corn.

        I like it served with fresh out of the oven biscuits.

        1. re: ziggylu

          I usually make a roasted vegetable stock based on Mark Bittman's recipe, though lentil soup could pair nicely with the vegetable stock in Julie Sahni's Classic cookbook -- I don't remember the details, but it's her base for Mulligatawny and other soups.

          Alternatively, I've used this veg "no-chicken broth," which is no substitute for great chicken stock, but offers much better flavor than many of the muddied vegetable stocks you find in cartons.

          EDIT: whoops, meant to paste the link: http://www.imaginefoods.com/content/o...

        2. re: Rasam

          the mushroom stock was a great idea! thanks :)

        3. Try using a little balsamic to finish the soup.It brings a bit of zip to the earthy flavor of the lentils.

          1. This is a Greek lentil soup recipe...
            Saute two medium chopped onions and two diced garlic cloves in olive oil. Add 250 grams lentils (peviously boiled for 10 minutes and strained) and saute for a few minutes more. Add a tin of diced tomatoes (since fresh are not of season now) and once it all starts to boil, add six cups boiling water, a couple of bay leaves, dried oregano (or thyme) and a vegetable cube if you prefer, and fresh pepper. Bring to a boil, and reduce heat in order to boil slowly for about 45 minutes (all depends on the lentils you use... I use the fine Greek, Santorini ones) Add more water if needed, (I like mine thick) Salt is added a few minutes before the end.
            Serve with more fresh pepper, oregano, balsamic, and raw olive oil. Feta, olives and country bread are great on the table with this soup.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ageliki

              The greek thing got me thinking... I don't have a recipe, but I'm sure there are some fantastic vegetarian Persian lentil soups. And if the guests eat dairy, you can use whey in some of them (very commonly used in Persian cooking). My mom just got a new Persian cookbook - I believe it's "New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking and Ceremonies", which looked like it might have something suitable.

              1. re: will47

                The Greek recipe above is called "fa-kes" It is a humble recipe that really brings out the lentils, especially if all the ingredients used are top quality. Many other recipes for "fakes" don't use tomato or tomato paste. I don't add salt in the end, because I serve it as a main,(especialy on rainy days) and all the saltiness of feta, olives, sardines etc... is usually enough. A mid eastern version (Lebanese) also adds diced carrots, celery, orange peel, to my above recipe and season with cinnamon, cumin, bay leafs and cardamon (just leave out the oregano)

            2. If you go down the your-own-recipe-but-with-veggie-stock route, bear in mind that vegetable stocks are much thinner, for want of a better description.

              So if you have half a litre of chicken stock, that's generally thick, solid and almost jelly like. If I'm replacing chicken stock with vegetable stock, I add about 2/3rds of the volume until I know it's not going to be over-watery.

              I also like a blob of natural yoghurt (although sour cream should work as well) stirred into lentil soup, especially if there's chilli in the soup.

              1. Hmm, I dunno about "out-of-this-world," but this lentil soup is one of my favorites. It's fairly healthy, too. I use Knorr vegetable bullion, but you might try it using one of the broth recommendations in this thread. Good either way.


                8 ounces brown lentils
                1/4 cup olive oil
                1 tablespoon minced garlic
                1 onion, minced
                1 large carrot, chopped
                1 1/2 celery ribs, including leaves, chopped
                1 quart vegetable broth
                1 pinch dried oregano
                1 pinch crushed dried rosemary
                2 bay leaves
                1 tablespoon tomato paste
                salt and pepper to taste
                white pepper, to taste
                1/2 tsp. soy sauce
                1 tsp. balsamic vinegar
                dash cayenne or pinch of hot pepper flake

                For serving:
                fresh lemon juice
                handful of freshly chopped parsley


                Place lentils in a large pot, cover with 1 inch of water. Place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; cook for 10 minutes, then drain lentils into a strainer.

                Dry pot, pour in olive oil, and place over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot; cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, then add tomato paste and stir until color deepens.

                Pour in lentils, 1 quart broth, the soy sauce, balsamic, oregano, rosemary, and bay leaves. Season to taste with salt, pepper, white pepper, and cayenne/red pepper flake. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils have softened, 40-50 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add additional water or broth if the soup becomes too thick.

                This soup tastes best if the flavors are allowed to meld overnight. Shortly before serving, stir in chopped parsley and fresh lemon juice to taste.

                1. Thank you for the replies. I ended up making a spanakopita for dinner for this event but am keeping this thread for the next time I make soup!

                  1. When I cook veggies, I take the left over cooking water, put it in a container in the freezer, and then bring it out to use in place of stock. It works well with the following recipe.

                    Lentil Soup with Swiss Chard (adaptation of May Bsisu's recipe in the Arab Table)
                    1 c dried brown lentils, sorted and rinsed
                    1 lg sweet onion, coarsely chopped
                    5 c stock
                    2 large red potatoes, chopped
                    1 bunch swiss chard, rinsed, stemmed, chopped (use leaves only)
                    ½ t black pepper
                    1 t olive oil
                    1 clove garlic, finely chopped
                    1 t coriander
                    1 t cumin
                    ½ c fresh cilantro leaves only, chopped
                    1 T flour
                    juice of one lemon
                    lemon slices for garnish

                    Combine lentils, onion and stock in large pot, cover and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium, uncover and cook 30 minutes, skimming foam from surface. Add potatoes, reduce heat to low, cover and cook for approximately 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add chard in batches, pushing below surface. Add pepper. Cook approximately 15 minutes.
                    While lentils are cooking, in a nonstick fry pan, on medium heat, add olive oil, garlic, coriander, cumin and cilantro leaves. Saute until coriander wilts, approximately 5 minutes. Add flour and stir. Mixture will be a thick paste. Take off heat, set aside.
                    Add cilantro mixture to lentils, simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in lemon juice. Taste, add more lemon juice, or salt, if desired. Garnish soup with lemon slices.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: inthekitchen

                      That is such a smart idea! I don't cook that many vegetables in water, but will certainly try to remember to do that when I do.

                    2. This is the best vegetarian lentil soup I've made.


                      Ravi's Curried Lentil and Apricot Soup, from the Toronto Star, January 29, 2011

                      2 tbsp (30 mL) vegetable oil

                      2 onions, chopped

                      1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped garlic

                      1/4 cup (60 mL) finely chopped, peeled ginger

                      2 tbsp (30 mL) mild curry powder

                      1 plum tomato, cored, chopped

                      1 cup (250 mL) diced dried apricots

                      2 cups (500 mL) red lentils, rinsed

                      8 cups (2 L) water

                      3/4 cup (185 mL) coconut milk

                      Salt + ground black pepper to taste


                      Plain yogurt

                      Chopped cilantro

                      In large pot, heat oil over medium. Add onions. Cook, stirring, until lightly golden, 10 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add garlic and ginger. Cook, stirring, 2 minutes. Add curry powder; cook 1 minute. Add tomato, apricots, lentils and water. Raise heat to high. When mixture starts boiling, reduce to simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until apricots are very soft, 30 minutes. Using handheld immersion blender or in food processor, purée soup. Return soup to pot over low heat. Stir in coconut milk. Season with salt and pepper.

                      Ladle soup into warmed bowls. Garnish with dollop of yogurt and sprinkle of cilantro.

                      Makes 6 to 8 servings.

                      Star-tested by Eric Vellend.

                      note: When I made this, I made a half recipe, didn't use a food processor, omitted the salt and pepper, used Penzey's Maharajah Curry powder, a small tomato "on the vine" rather than a plum tomato, and stirred about 1/4 cup of chopped cilantro into the soup before serving.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: prima

                        Prima, I haven't been to Ravi Soups myself, but I have a friend that raves about his soups. I want to try this one, for a change. I usually make Lebanese, Turkish or North African versions, but this one sounds quite different. My question to you is: have you had this soup at Ravi's shop? Does Ravi use regular dried apricots or the dark brown unsulfured ones? Which did you use when you made it? Is the final product quite sweet as a result of the apricots? I'd be inclined to offset the sweetness with a good kick of heat and possibly some lemon juice for tart balance.

                        1. re: 1sweetpea

                          It is quite different. My lentil soups tend to be Greek or Provencal-ish versions, and this was a very nice change, and much tastier than previous curried lentil soups I've attempted.

                          My friend orders this soup at Ravisoups, but I haven't had a chance to try it yet. I don't know what type of dried apricots Ravi uses, but I would guess that he uses regular dried apricots. When I made the recipe, I used the Sunmaid dried apricots in the red resealable package. They are apricot coloured, but they seem to be more moist than other regular dried apricots. The final product was slightly sweet, fragrant, and delicious. The ginger did cut the sweetness a little, but sure, add some heat, and adjust the seasoning with lemon. I cut back on the coconut milk a little, as well.

                          What ingredients do you use in your North African version? I made a harira (with lamb), and included red lentils, but haven't tried making a veg North African lentil soup.

                          Hope you like Ravi's soup if you make it!

                          1. re: prima

                            My Lebanese lentil soups go the standard cumin and cayenne route, served with lemon wedges. I do one North African version that calls for 4 or 5 ounces of baby spinach and arugula stirred in a couple of minutes before serving. A totally different version uses a Baharat spice blend (paprika, Lampong pepper, cinnamon, coriander, cumin, cloves, ginger, cayenne, cardamom and nutmeg). This blend comes from The Savoury Spice Shop. I bought this spice blend on a whim when surfing their website and it is so good. All the spices are very warming. They go extraordinarily well with legumes, as does the Ras el Hanout I purchased from that site.

                            Prima, I asked about the apricots because I have some nice soft organic apricots, but they are the unsulfured kind. They're not pretty to look at. I fear they will leave my soup looking kind of murky and sickly, though potentially healthier. I think I may give in and grab a bag of the Sun Maid apricots. I don't know if you're a Costco shopper, but Kirkland does a monster sized bag of apricots that are always big and soft.

                            1. re: 1sweetpea

                              I don't think the healthier, but brownish, apricots will murkify the soup too much, since the red lentils outnumber the apricots.

                              Thanks for the Kirkland dried apricot tip.

                              And thanks for the the nutshell spice profiles for your lentil soups. I've used Baharat blends on lamb, but not with lentils. Will have to experiment. Haven't tried the The Savoury Spice Shop's Baharat blend, but I have used the version available at The Spice Trader on Queen W in TO. Am planning to blend my own this time around ;-)

                      2. This is the one I love:

                        I made a note in my recipe file that somewhere on Chowhounds someone once suggested adding feta to red lentil soup. Sorry I didn't make a note of the persons name.
                        COCONUT CURRY LENTIL SOUP:
                        To 6 cups of the lentil soup, I added a heaping tbsp. of curry powder, and 1 can coconut milk. Simmer for about 10 minutes. Yum.

                        -this is similar to Prima's recipe above from the Toronto Star - but without the apricots. I'll have to try that one. Thanks Prima.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Lotti

                          Hope you like it, if you try it ;-)

                        2. ooh.. I am interested in Ravi's soup as well. Looks very interesting and I have been meaning to try an apricot-red lentil soup for a while. :)

                          This is also a very good lentil soup. You wouldn't expect it to be so flavourful with so few ingredients, but t is awesome:

                          Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

                          1. I made Ravi's lentil soup to kick off Lent on Ash Wednesday. Had leftovers tonight. I *highly* recommend!
                            Thanks for posting this. It's a gem.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: monavano

                              Happy to hear you enjoyed it ;-)

                            2. Agree with monavano's suggestion to add balsamic vinegar to your lentil soup -- it's a perfect foil for the sweetness of the onions and garlic and just makes everything better.

                              I also add a cilantro gremoloata at the end -- this is what makes the soup "out of this world" =). Serve it in a bowl on the table so guests can choose just how much of a raw garlic/lemon zest/herbal punch they want to spoon into their soup! Oh, and I always serve some toasted, rustic bread alongside the soup for dunking.

                              Lentil Soup

                              serves 3

                              3 Tbsp. olive oil
                              2 large cloves garlic, diced
                              1 bunch spring onions (3 onions, with 2" round bulbs)
                              2 large carrots, diced
                              2 ribs celery, diced

                              1/2 C. red lentils
                              4 C. water
                              1/2 tsp. sea salt
                              1/4 tsp. ground cumin
                              1/4 tsp. dried thyme leaves

                              3 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar

                              1. Heat the olive oil in a medium (2 1/2-quart) saucepan over a medium flame. Add the garlic, onions, carrots, and celery, sauteing for about 10 minutes, or until vegetables are softened and start to brown very slightly.

                              2. Add the lentils, water, sea salt, cumin, and thyme to the saucepan. Stir to combine and bring up to a simmer. Turn heat down to low, cover, and let simmer for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are fully cooked and start to break up.

                              3. Turn off the heat and stir in the balsamic vinegar. Ladle into bowls and serve with the gremolata, letting your guests add as much of it to their bowl as they please.

                              Cilantro Gremolata

                              1/2 bunch (about 2 cups loosely packed) cilantro, stems chopped off
                              3 large cloves garlic
                              zest of 1 lemon, microplaned
                              juice of 1 lemon
                              3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

                              1. Pile up the cilantro, garlic cloves, and lemon zest on a cutting board. Chop until the garlic is in fairly small pieces and the cilantro is finely chopped.

                              2. Put the chopped mixture into a small bowl and add the lemon juice and olive oil. Stir to combine.

                              1. Lentil soup season again. :-)
                                Anyone have any new veggie lentil soup recipes they'd like to share?

                                1. I'm planning to work with ideas for lentil soup and soup stock at these two blog entries:



                                  I've been enjoying following how the author really thinks through what he is doing in the kitchen to leave out the meat, in this case.

                                  1 Reply
                                  1. re: Toucan67

                                    This is my go to. Have posted numerous times. Sorry for the repetition. It is a slow cooker soup. Freezes and reheats for days on end very well.


                                    I use about 6 carrots instead of just 2. And use powdered cumin.

                                  2. This one is my current favorite. The recipe has been around for a while.

                                    I don't know what the texture's supposed to be like, but I find that I usually have to thin it out quite a bit.