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Recipe Challenge: Pantry Staples Lentil Soup

Enara Staff
/ May 8, 2020

So, you bought a bag of lentils and may not be clear what to do with them. Red lentils are one of the quickest and easiest legumes to cook. Not to mention, they’re high in plant-based protein and fiber! Today, I (Rebecca) bring you a “use-what-you’ve got” lentil soup that will last throughout the week (or much longer in your freezer). I know the availability of certain foods may be unreliable right now, which is why I’ve left notes on potential substitutions that are equally nutritious. Or, perhaps you don’t want to brave the line at Trader Joe’s and make a quick dinner, which is how I approached this recipe. Regardless, this soup promises big flavor, and big portions. I love the idea of mixing it up throughout the week so you don’t get tired of the same old thing. Perhaps one night you top it with some Greek yogurt, cilantro, and black pepper. The next, could be a fried egg and your favorite hot sauce. For lunch the following day, maybe it’s a sprinkle of feta cheese and fresh mint. The options are endless (and delicious). Enjoy! 

Adapted from The Kitchn 

Ingredients (makes 8 portions): 

  • 2 medium carrots* 
  • 1 medium yellow onion
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 cups dried red lentils (about 1 pound)
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce**
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth***
  • 5 cups baby spinach (about 5 ounces)****  

Some notes:

  • I didn’t have whole carrots, so I used Trader Joe’s frozen carrot spirals .
  • I subbed a can of whole peeled tomatoes and crushed with my hands instead of tomato sauce.
  • I was out of broth, so I used water and just added a little more salt to taste.
  • Frozen spinach works too (I used one bag).


  1. Peel and dice 2 medium carrots and 1 medium onion. Mince 4 cloves of garlic. 
  2. Place dried red lentils in a fine-mesh strainer and run under cold water until water runs clear, ~1 minute. Set aside. 
  3. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onions and carrots and cook until softened, ~5 minutes. Add the minced garlic, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, and ½ teaspoon salt (if subbing water for broth you will want to do ~1 teaspoon salt here). Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. 
  4. Add the dried lentils, tomato sauce, and 6 cups broth. Stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to maintain a gentle simmer, stirring occasionally. Cook until the lentils are tender, ~20 minutes. 
  5. Remove from heat and stir in 5 cups of spinach until wilted (if using frozen spinach, don’t remove from heat). 
  6. Serve immediately! 

*This is also a very freezer-friendly item. 

Nutrition Facts (per serving, yields 8 servings): 281 calories, 6.2g fat, 43.5g carbohydrates, 8.5g fiber, 15.7g protein.

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