Lentil Soup Your Way

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Feeling broke? When post-rent poverty sets in (and it does once a month) I turn to my trusty shelf stable friend The Lentil.
Lentils are hearty, nutrient rich, and pretty darn affordable. Aside from being delicious they also come from a large lentil family which will keep you from getting bored… for a little while anyway. Lentils are actually the seeds of the lentil plant which is native to West Asia among other regions. Did you know that? Now you do!
When my pockets become empty I always turn to what’s left in my pantry to fill me up, and nothing does the trick better than a pot of lentil soup. It really doesn’t take much to make a good lentil soup. Even the most basic soup will taste good with a generous pinch of salt and it’s guaranteed to satisfy on a chilly day.
Mixing and matching ingredients to create your own recipe is what’s fun about making lentil soup. If you’re on a budget like I often am, you’ll find that your kitchen has practically written the recipe for you as you dig deep into your fridge for delicious add ins! Consider this the only lentil soup recipe you’ll ever need.

Mix and Match Lentil Soup

 1 1/2 Tbl oil:
  • olive oil
  • canola oil
  • safflower oil
  • margarine

1 large onion, diced:

  • yellow onion
  • red onion
  • white onion


  • 2 shallots, finely chopped
  • 1 large bunch scallions, chopped (both green and white parts, a handful reserved for garnish)

2 Tbl pungent:

  • minced garlic
  • mashed roasted garlic
  • grated fresh ginger

1-2 tsp dry spices (choose 2-4):

  • thyme
  • oregano
  • basil
  • dill
  • red pepper flakes or 1 dried chili pepper
  • fennel
  • coriander
  • cumin
  • turmeric
  • curry powder or paste
  • garam masala
  • paprika

8 cups broth:

  • water
  • vegetable stock


  • 6 1/2 cups of one of the above plus 1 can of coconut milk
  • 8 cups of one of the above plus 1 small can tomato paste

2 cups lentils (one type or a blend of several):

  •  brown lentils (most common)
  • red lentils (second most common)
  • french green lentils
  • masoor lentils
  • black lentils

1-2 cups protein extra (choose 1-2):

  • cooked white, brown or wild rice
  • cooked barley, quinoa, or other small grain
  • cooked shell pasta, or other small shape
  • cooked chickpeas, kidney beans, cannelini beans, or other favorite beans
  • crumbled (veggie) sausage, tempeh, or tofu

2 cups chopped veggies:

  • carrots
  • celery
  • potatoes
  • mushrooms
  • turnips
  • beets
  • parsnips
  • winter or summer squash
  • bell pepper
  • fresh or canned (with juice) tomatoes


  • 1 cup of the above plus 3 cups chopped greens (spinach, chard, kale, mustard, etc)

2 tbl acid:

  • vinegar (balsamic, sherry, apple cider, etc)
  • lemon or lime juice
  • dijon mustard

1/2 cup fresh herbs (plus a handful for garnish):

  • basil
  • parsley
  • cilantro
  • dill

Salt and Pepper to taste

red lentils washed

1. Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute onions for 5 minutes until soft.

2. Add 2 tbl your choice of pungents plus 2 tsp your choice of spices to the pot and saute, stirring, for 1 minute until fragrant.
3. Add in 2 cups your choice of chopped veggies (if using greens, reserve for later), 2 cups lentils, and if you wish, 1-2 cups protein extras. Mix well and pour on 8 cups stock or stock combination. Cover and bring to a boil, then, reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes until lentils are tender.
4. Stir in choice of acid plus salt and pepper to taste and add in chopped greens (if using). Simmer uncovered stirring for 5 minutes.
5. Turn off heat and stir in 1/2 cup fresh herbs.
Serve immediately or let cool and freeze.
Serves 6-8
red lentil soup

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