Meatless Monday Recipe: Lentil Soup

My father-in-law makes the best lentil soup and it is the most basic and simplest of recipe. I couldn’t believe how simple and easy it was because the soup itself tasted much more complex. I had him demonstrate it for me one day since I refused to believe it could be so simple.


He calls this “soffritto”, but it’s just garlic, onions and tomatoes and does not contain the more traditional ingredients such as celery, carrots and parsley.


He fries them up until they are quite golden brown. Then, he adds them to the already boiling and just about tender lentils. He adds some chopped celery and frozen broccoli and boil until everything is tender, may be another 15 minutes. A little salt and pepper and it’s delicious.

Of course, I can’t leave his recipe alone and have to mess with it.


I start with garlic and onion, too.


Add some chopped tomatoes.


Fry them up until they are tender.


And the tomatoes have really broken down.


Then, this is where I deviate. I add chopped celery and carrots.  Then, I add vegetable stock instead of water, the lentils and boil until just about tender if I’m adding chopped broccoli.  Add broccoli until fully done.  Or add the spinach when the soup is pretty much done.


I think I missed taking photo of one or two of the steps. This one shows with the lentils and vegetable stock already added.


And here is the finished product, this version contains spinach instead of the chopped broccoli. I make it both ways just for change of pace and they are both really good.

ETA: Somehow I published this without the recipe so here it is!


Lentil Soup

Prep time: 10 minutes Cook time 45 minutes – 1 hour

Serves: 8


olive oil
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup chopped sweet onion
2 roma (plum) tomatoes, chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
3 carrots, sliced into half moons or chopped
1 pound dry lentils (green or brown), picked and rinsed
2 quarts water or vegetable stock
2 bay leaves
6 ounces chopped broccoli (fresh or frozen) or baby spinach
salt and pepper to taste


In a large pot, fry garlic and onions in olive oil until softened. Add tomatoes and sauté until the tomatoes start to break down and release the juice. Add celery and carrots with a little more olive oil and saute for another minute. Add the lentils, water or vegetable stock and the bay leaves and bring to boil. Reduce to simmer and cook until lentils are just about tender, about 35 minutes.  If the soup becomes too thick, add more stock or water to thin out. Remove the bay leaves.

If using broccoli, add at this time and cook another 5 – 10 minutes until broccoli is tender.

If using spinach, add when lentils are fully tender. Stir in the spinach and cook for another minute or two until all the spinach has softened.

Salt and pepper to taste.

Note:  I think another lovely substitute vegetable would be swiss chard instead broccoli or spinach, but I haven’t tried it yet.  Also, this may sound strange, but we love to eat lentil soup over plain white steamed rice, a lá Korean style or Indian style with dal.  I tend to make the soup a little thicker for that purpose.  A sprinkle of fresh grated pecorino romano cheese is a nice touch.  And finally, this soup freezes very well.  I always make the full pound of lentils so I can freeze 1/2 and use for quick dinners or lunches.


5 thoughts on “Meatless Monday Recipe: Lentil Soup

  1. mmmm…I LOVE lentil soup! I have a recipe from my Italian grandpa that I love…for the memories and the flavor. I think he would add a dash of red wine vinegar at the end…and I like to add a dash of Tabasco too both for its vinegary tang *and* the spice. 😉

    Your soup looks SO good! Must see if I can find lentils here in Korea….

    1. I guess that’s why my friend adds the sriracha sauce, for the spice and tang. I just realized after reading the comments that I published without actually writing up the recipe… lol. Now it’s added. You could always make bean soup, too and you’ll definitely find beans in Korea!

  2. I make lentil soup a lot! I have also found that adding quinoa (half the amount of lentils) and barley (also have the amount of lentils) make it more hearty and filling (esp for my nonvegetarian in the family). The sriracha sauce is also awesome in this too.

    1. Ha… lol, that’s why we like to eat it over rice b/c it makes it more hearty. Plus, I love rice. So, you add the quinoa and barley or quinoa or barley, half of that and half of lentil instead of the full pound?

  3. Mmm, Sriracha is a great idea!

    Hey I just noticed your nice comments on the “Hallabong” post….I’ve actually had to start moderating comments b/c of a few unfortunate spam comments I’ve gotten recently, but I still haven’t gotten the hang of reviewing and publishing the comments regularly 🙂 I actually found some black soybeans and, after pressure-cooking them in my rice cooker, got them adequately soft for eating (i’d tried batches and batches of boiling/soaking/boiling for over 24 hrs with no success prior to that….but boy, the rice cooker is a wonder! unfortunately the cooker always gets so dirty from the beans….) Made a “chili” for the first time in eons!

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