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Vegetarian Lentil Soup: Hearty and Healthy

Updated on March 19, 2018
DzyMsLizzy profile image

Vegetarian recipes, healthy foods, kitchen tips and shortcuts interest Liz, but she also likes desserts!

Very Low Sodium

This soup is a variant of one I used to make years ago, before my husband developed severe heart disease. He's been placed on a highly salt-restricted diet: not to exceed more than a 1200 mg of sodium per day. That's nearly impossible to acheive!

Now, go to your cupboard, and read the label on nearly anything in there that comes in a box or a can. Even bread has more sodium than you would think. Scary, right? There is no good way to achieve a diet that meets his restrictions without doing a lot of my own cooking from scratch, just as previous generations did.

And so, I have become a reluctant dietitian/cook. I am a capable cook; even a good cook, if the mood takes me. Unfortunately, it's not one of my favorite activities, so I favor one-pot 'fix it and forget it' type meals. This hearty soup fills that bill very well, and your belly to boot.

Lentils are in the legume family, and so are full of protein, just like their relatives, peas and beans.

The Basic Ingredients

All the main ingredients are shown here; this really is a simple soup, but you can add whatever other veggies you might wish
All the main ingredients are shown here; this really is a simple soup, but you can add whatever other veggies you might wish


  • 1 Quart Low Sodium Vegetable Broth
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 small Onion, sliced into 1/2 rings
  • 1 dozen or so Baby carrots, whole
  • 3 stalks Celery, sliced diagonally into 1" chunks
  • 1/2 Mild anaheim chili (or red bell) pepper, finely diced
  • 1 pound bag lentils, sorted, rinsed and drained
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • Ground Black Pepper, To taste
  • 1/2 tsp. Rosemary/Garlic chips blend
  • 1 Tbsp. Dried Sweet Basil
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Dried Summer Savory
  • 1 Medium potato, cubed, (Optional)
Chop veggies into different shapes for visual interest
Chop veggies into different shapes for visual interest
Half, then slice onion vertically into slabs, finally, turn and slice into half-rings
Half, then slice onion vertically into slabs, finally, turn and slice into half-rings
Sauteé onions in olive oil until transparent. The Olive oil adds another level of flavor.
Sauteé onions in olive oil until transparent. The Olive oil adds another level of flavor.

What Do You Think?

5 stars from 6 ratings of Hearty Vegetarian Lentil Soup


  1. Pre-Slice all vegetables, so they will be ready as needed. Cut the celery in half lengthwise, and again if they are large stalks, then slice on the diagonal.
  2. Baby carrots can be left whole; larger carrots can be sliced into rounds
  3. Saute the onion slices in the Olive Oil until transparent.
  4. Set prepared vegetables aside, and sort the lentils. Pour a tablespoonful or two at a time into the palm of your hand, and examine them. You are looking for shriveled lentils, and small rocks or pebbles which sometimes accidentally end up in the harvest. As you clear each handful, drop into a colander to be rinsed.
  5. Pour the vegetable broth and the water into a large soup kettle or dutch oven; the ideal capacity for this recipe is about 6 quarts.
  6. Pour in the rinsed and drained lentils, cover, bring to a boil, and add the vegetables and spices. Cover again, and return to a boil, stirring now and then.
  7. Leave covered, and turn heat down to a very low simmer. Cook for an hour and a half until lentils are tender, stirring occasionally.
  8. Alternately, you can toss everything into a slow cooker, set it on medium, and leave it all day long, or on high for 4 hours or so

Cook Time

Prep time: 45 min
Cook time: 1 hour 30 min
Ready in: 2 hours 15 min
Yields: 8 large servings

Yum! Ready to Serve

Grab a spoon and dig in!
Grab a spoon and dig in! | Source

Serve and Enjoy

This soup is a wonderful, hearty and filling main course. Just add some fresh garlic bread on the side if you wish, and you have a full and satisfying meal.

This recipe makes plenty for a crowd (up to about eight people), but as there are just two of us, I usually just pull out a serving or two, and freeze the rest to have on hand for "one of those days," when I just don't feel like cooking.

Lentils have kind of a spicy under-taste all by themselves, so there's no need to get carried away with the spices. I've put suggested amounts, but really, just "season to taste." I tend to be a bit heavy-handed with the pepper shaker, but not everyone shares my enthusiasm for pepper.

The Anaheim chili adds just a teeny hint of bite in the distant background, but not enough to render the soup inedible for those who do not like spicy foods. If you really don't want the chili at all, just substitute in the bell pepper--it will be just as good.

I also added the water to dilute the already-low-sodium broth, bringing the salt content to near zero per serving. You'll notice I specified garlic powder, not garlic salt, for this same reason. Use pure herbs, not pre-packaged blends, and you should be fine staying salt-free.

Optional Variation:

If you wish, you can omit the extra 2 cups of water, and it will come out even thicker, like a chunky stew. This is also where I would add the optional potato, if I were making it into more of a stew.

© 2013 Liz Elias


Submit a Comment
  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi HollieT--

    Thank you so much. I do hope you get a chance to try it out.

  • HollieT profile image


    7 years ago from Belfast, Northern Ireland

    Lovely! This dish looks like a substantial, healthy and tasty meal!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    7 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi there, Crafty--

    I'm delighted you enjoyed the recipe. It is one of my winter favorites--delicious with hot, fresh sourdough bread!

  • CraftytotheCore profile image


    7 years ago

    Oh that looks so good! I love lentil soup. We used to have a handful of small restaurants around here that served different soups and lentil was one of my favorites! Thank you for sharing your recipe!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, agaglia,

    Thanks again for another tip. I had not thought of mixing colors of lentils or adding rice, but that is also a very good idea. Your suggestion is much appreciated.

  • agaglia profile image

    Annette Gagliardi 

    8 years ago from Minneapolis

    Yes. I love lentil soup. One thing I do to create a more complex taste is add 1 cup red rice. If you want to vary the color mix lentils so you have various colors of lentils. there are so many colors of lentils & rice that we can mix and match in some recipes.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, tebo,

    Thanks very much for stopping by and leaving feedback. I hope you enjoy this soup.

  • tebo profile image


    8 years ago from New Zealand

    I have made lentil soup often, but usually by guesswork. Sometimes its good others not so good. I will try using your recipe and I'm sure it will turn out well as it looks and sounds nice.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ kitkat1141--Thanks for your comment, and I’m glad you liked the recipe and my photos. I don’t eat beef, myself, or other meats, being a vegetarian, so this dish, in my house, stays strictly meatless. However, the beauty of it is, the basic simplicity allows for many personal variations.

    @ 2besure--I’m pleased you liked the recipe. Your variations sound interesting, especially the cayenne! I’m not crazy about cilantro, myself, and my husband hates tomatoes; but I will try the cayenne! What a great addition that would be. Thanks very much.

    @ everytingdazzles--I’m glad you like the sound of this soup, and I hope you get a chance to try it out soon. Thanks for stopping by.

    @ torrilynn--Lentils are a legume that has a teeny-tiny bit of “bite” to them…almost a bit like pepper, but not strong. They are certainly not hot. I hope you enjoy this warming, satisfying soup.

    @ carozy--Thanks very much; I know what you mean about keeping the eyes peeled for veggie recipes! Delighted you liked the sound of this one--enjoy!

    @ Marcy--Ditto on the vegetarian choices. Lentil soup is one of my faves for a cold winter night. It’s great with fresh sourdough bread or cornbread on the side. Your comment is much appreciated; thank you.

  • Marcy Goodfleisch profile image

    Marcy Goodfleisch 

    8 years ago from Planet Earth

    Yummy! I love lentil soup - and pretty much anything else that's vegetarian. I eat some poultry and fish, too, but mostly vegetarian food.

  • carozy profile image


    8 years ago from San Francisco

    I always have an eye out for vegetarian recipes. This one looks good. Thanks for sharing. :)

  • torrilynn profile image


    8 years ago

    Hi DzyMsLizzy,

    thanks for this hub on healthy lentil soup. I dont

    think I've personally ever had lentil soup before but

    I'm always willing to try something new and different.

    thanks again and voted up.

  • everythingdazzles profile image


    8 years ago from Houston

    This sounds delicious thanks for the ideas!

  • 2besure profile image

    Pamela Lipscomb 

    8 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

    What a great recipe. I love mine with cilantro, a little stewed tomatoes and a pinch of cayenne!

  • kitkat1141 profile image


    8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    I usually add stewing beef to my lentil stew/soup, but this sounds like a good alternative. I like your photos.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hi, Susan,

    Glad you liked the recipe, and I hope you enjoy the soup. You can also top it with Parmesan cheese, if you like, but I don't care for it, so didn't mention it in the article. .. ;-)

    Thanks for stopping by!

  • Just Ask Susan profile image

    Susan Zutautas 

    8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

    Sounds delicious and I'll be making this later on this week.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Hello, Marie Flint,

    I admire your ability to be a full vegan. Although I know and understand all of the reasons (philosophical, health, environmental, etc.) for doing so, I'm afraid I don't have that kind of strength of will. I came to being vegetarian later in life, and I just love things like cheese and ice cream a bit too much to give them up this far into the game. :-(

    Pepper weakens the heart??? That's the first I've ever heard of that--and not something I wanted to know. My husband is a heart failure patient, and this very-low-sodium recipe is my attempt to address the diet he was given for that. He is already depressed enough with his dietary restrictions, and the countless things he can no longer enjoy..... :-(

    I think you just have to pick your battles--I'm older than he is by 10 years; my heart is as healthy as ever, and I've been heavy-handed with pepper all of my adult life. There are, of course, a wide variety of herbs, (none of which taste like pepper). I do not like thyme, because of its association with a cough syrup (Pertussin) I was given as a child. I will try the cumin next time, though, as that is a common spice in Mexican food, which I love..thanks for that suggestion.

    Thank you so much for stopping by and sharing your experience and knowledge. Much appreciated.

  • Marie Flint profile image

    Marie Flint 

    8 years ago from Jacksonville, FL USA

    I enjoyed reading the ingredients in your recipe. As a practicing vegan, I use lentils regularly. I don't use black pepper, though, as this spice tends to weaken the heart. I generally use cumin in lentil soups and dishes. I never thought about chili for my lentil cooking, but maybe next time I'll try it.

    Low sodium? Try thyme as an herbal substitute for salt in hearty entrees. And, of course, celery has a natural sodium content which helps flavor your recipes.

    Thank you for sharing!

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ B. Leekley--Thank you so much for the votes and shares. Much appreciated, and I hope you enjoy the soup (or the stew version).

    @ Riviera Rose--Thanks so very much for the votes and stars! Much appreciated.

    @ Om Paramopoonya--I'm pleased that you enjoyed the recipe and liked the twist with the Anaheim chili. I like to experiment, and that happened to be what I had on hand, so I said, "Why not?" Thanks for stopping by.

  • Om Paramapoonya profile image

    Om Paramapoonya 

    8 years ago

    Oh my, this sounds delicious and healthy. I like that you use anaheim chili to give it a tiny bit of heat.

  • Riviera Rose profile image

    Riviera Rose 

    8 years ago from South of France

    I love hearty winter soups, and shall give this one a try. Five stars, voted up and useful!

  • B. Leekley profile image

    Brian Leekley 

    8 years ago from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA

    Up, Useful, shared with followers and on social networking sites, and bookmarked. I intend to make this soup before long.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    @ shiningirisheyes--Thanks so very much. I hope you enjoy the soup. I do have a couple of others I may share... ;-)

    @ Catherine Deslipp--Goodness, you're quick on the pen--getting it copied out already! ;-) I hope you enjoy it as much as I do, and may you recover well. The beauty of this recipe is that it is simple, yet can also be used as a jumping-off point for your own custom touches, adding/subtracting ingredients as you may prefer. I am considering a recipe book--probably as an e-book.

    @ Seeker7--I have had exactly that problem with trying to find low or no-salt things to eat from the grocery store! As senior citizens on a fixed income, it is absolutely maddening that the healthy food is priced out of reach. Thanks so much for your kind words, and I'm delighted you enjoyed the recipe.

  • Seeker7 profile image

    Helen Murphy Howell 

    8 years ago from Fife, Scotland

    Wow!! What a lovely recipe for lentil soup! I will need to give this a go as it sounds delicious!

    I sympathise with you trying to get low sodium meals - even the ones that state 'low sodium' are sometimes not that low in salt! We do eat too much salt anyway, but it's difficult to find any foods that don't have loads in it! You also have the problem of specially prepared meals that you can buy, but they are so expensive and definatley outside most people's budget!

    Lovely recipe Lizzy and a great hub, clear and concise instructions!

  • Catherine Deslipp profile image

    Catherine Deslipp 

    8 years ago from Brantford, Ontario

    I have already written it down and put it in my recipe book. A heart/stroke patient myself that just came out of hosipital I truly appreciate all of theses wonderful recipes. Thank you, and I will try my best to make it (hopefully as good as you) and help me to get alot stronger. (Maybe a recipe book in the making?)

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 

    8 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Great recipe for my kitchen collection my friend! Thanks for the share. I hope you share more.

  • DzyMsLizzy profile imageAUTHOR

    Liz Elias 

    8 years ago from Oakley, CA

    Thanks, billybuc!

    I hope you get a chance to try it.

  • billybuc profile image

    Bill Holland 

    8 years ago from Olympia, WA

    Well that looks and sound delicious my friend. Thanks for dusting this one off and sharing.


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