Vegan Main Dishes/ Vegan Recipes/ Vegan Soups, Stews, and Chilis

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach or Arugula

Red lentil and spinach soup

Here’s a simple soup of quick-cooking red lentils, embellished with tender greens. It’s a warming homemade soup you can have on the table in less than 45 minutes. Once you’ve done the onion-garlic sauté, there’s very little additional work to do! Serve with fresh pita, croutons, or crispy pita chips that you can crumble right into the soup. The recipe yields a flavorful but mild soup; see notes on seasonings following the recipe if you’d like to kick it up a few notches.

Serves: 6

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed
  • 2 salt-free vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 2 teaspoons salt-free seasoning mix (like Spike or Mrs. Dash)
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons good-quality curry powder, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric (see Note on additional seasoning following recipe)
  • 4 to 6 ounces baby spinach or arugula, or a combination
  • 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley or cilantro
  • 1/2 to 1 cup coconut milk (from canned) or 1 cup unsweetened
    coconut milk beverage, optional
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil in a soup pot. Add the onions and sauté over medium heat until translucent. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until both are golden.

Add 6 cups water, followed by the lentils, natural, salt-free bouillon cubes, and seasoning. Bring to a slow boil, then lower the heat, cover, and simmer gently until the lentils are mushy, about 20 minutes.

Remove from the heat and insert an immersion blender. Process until the soup is smoothly pureed. Or, puree in batches in a food processor. If you have no machines, no worries. Just leave it chunky.

Red lentil and spinach soup

Once the lentils are done, the soup will be rather thick. Thin it out with a little coconut milk or coconut beverage to give it a little richer flavor, though adding a little more water if you prefer is also fine. Either way, don’t add too much, as you want the soup to stay nice and thick.

Return to a simmer and stir in the spinach or arugula in batches, stirring until they wilt down. Add the herbs and cook just until piping hot. Season with salt and pepper, then serve.

Note on seasoning: You can push the curry flavor of this soup further by adding more curry powder, plus ground cumin and fresh ginger. Add dried hot red pepper flakes or Sriracha sauce if you’d like a spicier soup.

Add a cooked (peeled and diced), medium sweet potato at the end, when adding the greens, for an extra yum factor!


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  • Reply
    Kholud al Bassam
    March 2, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    Great yummy hearty soup delicious ..

  • Reply
    March 6, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    making this tonight!

  • Reply
    May 1, 2014 at 8:17 pm

    Hi Nava,

    I have never seen “saltless: bouillon cubes. Can you give me a few brand names

    • Reply
      May 1, 2014 at 8:52 pm

      Barbara, I like Rapunel; you can also use 2 to 3 tsps Frontier or Mrs. Dash salt- free seasoning blend.

  • Reply
    June 3, 2014 at 9:13 am

    Can you make this recipe in a pressure cooker or slow cooker?

    • Reply
      June 3, 2014 at 10:25 pm

      Jaqueline, red lentils cook so quickly that I don’t think there’s any need to do them in a pressure cooker. And I’d be worried that the greens would overcook in a slow cooker. However, I could be convinced that I’m wrong on both of these. Let’s see if anyone else has input on this.

  • Reply
    February 25, 2015 at 11:28 am

    This soup is seriously amazing Nava. So easy and satisfying. The canned coconut milk makes it really creamy and perfect. I ate it with some brown rice to make it more substantial and squeezed some lime juice on top.

    • Reply
      February 25, 2015 at 3:22 pm

      So glad you enjoyed this, Chen — and I love the idea of adding brown rice (or quinoa!) and the squeeze of lime juice.

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