Red Lentil Soup with Chickpeas
on Nov 07, 2022
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Smoked paprika gives this red lentil soup recipe a zesty kick. It has chickpeas, carrots and spinach. Add it to your list of healthy comfort food that’s vegan and freezer friendly along with Hearty Vegetable Soup, Chile Verde with White Beans and Black Bean Chili.
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Lentils are one of my pantry all-stars. My shelves are stocked with enough lentils in each color—red, black and green—to come up with a meal whether that’s a soup, stew or even a salad.
The bold flavors in this simple red lentil soup come from smoked paprika and ground cumin. These, along with minced garlic, work together to create a broth with a lot of personality. It’s the kind of soup that you will make again for the spicy warmth.
Why You Need This Recipe
The prep is minimal. You just have to chop the carrots and onions and mince a couple garlic cloves. For the rest of the ingredients, you pretty much just dump them right into the pot.
The soup cooks in about 30 minutes. Red lentils don’t take long to simmer before they are soft and meld right into the broth.
It makes great leftovers. This soup is one for the freezer. When you thaw it, the soup tastes just as wonderful as the first time you made it.
What are Red Lentils?
These legumes are a lovely reddish orange before they are cooked. Once they simmer in soups and curries, they lose their color and become very soft. The red lentils you find at the grocery are split lentils, so they do not have a seed coat and they are split in half. This makes them break down faster. Also, they will not hold their shape when you cook them.
Red lentils are found in Middle Eastern and Indian dishes. Mild, earthy and nutty best describes their flavor. They do not require soaking before you cook them. It’s always handy to keep lentils in your pantry for spontaneous soups or stews. They are a good source of protein, fiber, iron and potassium.
This is what you need:
- Red lentils are gluten-free. They are easy to find in the grocery with the rice and grains. Make sure to look through your lentils to see if there is any debris in the bag. Put them in a fine mesh strainer to rinse them off.
- Chickpeas: Open a can, drain and rinse them before you add them to the soup.
- Onions: Chopped white onions are the base of the soup.
- Carrots sauté with the onions, subtly adding to the overall flavor.
- Tomatoes: The broth ends up nice and tomato-y thanks to a big can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes.
- Spices: The soup is seasoned with a mix of smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. The smoked paprika is responsible for the spicy heat.
- Garlic, along with the dried spices, gives the soup its signature flavor.
- Spinach: Once the soup is ready, I stir in baby spinach to add greens. You can substitute with chopped kale.
- Vegetable broth: Use low-sodium broth, so you can control the seasonings. If you don’t mind if the soup is not vegan, you can substitute with chicken broth.
- Olive oil: To sauté the onions and carrots, use extra-virgin olive oil for the best taste.
- Parsley: I sprinkle on chopped fresh parsley to garnish the soup.
How To Make Red Lentil Soup
1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
2. Sauté the onions and carrots. Give them 3-5 minutes to start to become soft.
3. Stir in the minced garlic and spices, including smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper, sautéing for another minute.
4. Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, chickpeas and lentils. Bring the soup to a boil, reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are soft and cooked, about 20-25 minutes.
5. Stir the baby spinach into the cooked soup.
6. Divide the soup into bowls and top with parsley.
What To Serve with Lentil Soup
Bread: Keep it simple and serve the soup with a hunk of crusty bread that’s sturdy enough to be dipped. Pita is another good choice.
A sandwich: Make a roasted veggie sandwich with hummus. If you make a grilled cheese sandwich and want to keep it vegan, use a plant-based cheese.
A salad: I love this Arugula Salad with Lemon Vinaigrette because it doesn’t take the attention away from the soup.
You can save leftovers in the fridge in an airtight container up to 4 days. To keep the soup longer, store it in the freezer up to 1 month. Thaw it and then warm it on the stove or in the microwave. It makes it easier to thaw and reheat if you freeze it in individual portion sizes. Add more fresh spinach when you warm leftovers.
More Lentil Recipes
Did you try this soup recipe? Please leave a rating and comment below. Thanks!
Red Lentil Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 white onion roughly chopped
- 1/2 pound carrots peeled and diced
- 2 garlic cloves minced
- 2 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
- 1-28 ounce can crushed fire-roasted tomatoes
- 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 1 cup red lentils
- 1-15 ounce can chickpeas drained and rinsed
- 1 cup baby spinach
- Chopped parsley for serving
- Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions and carrots until they start to soften, about 3-5 minutes.
- Stir in the garlic, smoked paprika, cumin, salt and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Add the tomatoes, vegetable broth, lentils and chickpeas. Bring the soup to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20-25 minutes.
- Stir in the baby spinach, letting the leaves wilt.
- Divide the soup into bowls and top with chopped parsley.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.
Originally published November 10, 2014. Updated: November 7, 2022.