Saturday, March 15, 2014

Lentil Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Cumin (Vegan, Gluten-Free)

This Vegan Lentil Soup with Spinach and Tomatoes has plenty of flavor from the cumin and other spices.

Vegan Lentil Soup Recipe with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Cumin

(Updated with better photos and step-by-step instructions, March 2014.)  In Utah we're having a burst of spring-like weather lately.  Not that I would ever complain about spring coming early, but all winter I've been cooking and re-photographing some of my favorite soups from the past and now I'm feeling like I need to get them posted before it really is spring.  My love of lentils is pretty well documented on the blog, and this lentil soup from 2008 is made mostly from simple pantry ingredients, but it's loaded with flavor due to the cumin seeds, ground coriander, onions, garlic, and paprika that flavor the soup.  This delightful soup is vegan, but if you don't care about that I'd love this with a generous dollop of Greek yogurt added at the table.

I was happy when I found this recipe in The Sugar Solution Cookbook, a collection of low-glycemic recipes published by the editors of Prevention Magazine.   Everything about this soup sounded good, and I really didn't change it much except for using vegetable stock in place of water. The soup has a strong cumin flavor, which was one of the things I loved, and it was the perfect way to use up the last bit of one of those huge tubs of spinach from Costco.

In a large dutch oven type pan that will hold all the soup ingredients, heat the olive oil over medium heat and saute the cumin seeds, stirring a few times, until they're fragrant and starting to pop, about 3 minutes.  (If you're a cumin fan like I am, you might even use a little more cumin.)

Then add the onion, minced garlic, ground coriander, and black pepper and cook until the onions are softened and starting to slightly brown, about 4 minutes.  Add the paprika and cook about 1 minute more.

Measure 1 1/2 cups of plain brown lentils.  (Lentils that are fresh will cook more quickly than those that have been sitting on the shelf in the store or in your pantry.)

Add the lentils and vegetable broth, bring to a slight boil, reduce heat, and simmer about 30-40 minutes or until the lentils are quite tender.

Here's how the soup looked once the lentils were done.

While the lentils cook, wash the spinach if needed and finely chop.

Add the can of tomatoes and chopped spinach to the soup (and a little more vegetable stock if needed) and cook about 30 more minutes, or until the spinach is done and the flavors have blended.  Serve hot.

Vegetarian Lentil SoupAnd just for fun, here's the one and only photo from this soup when I first posted it in 2008.

Lentil Soup with Spinach, Tomatoes, and Cumin
(Makes about 6 servings, recipe slightly adapted from The Sugar Solution Cookbook.)

1 T olive oil
1 1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds (or slightly more if you really like cumin)
1 large onion, chopped small
4 cloves garlic, minced (about 1 T minced garlic)
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
fresh ground black pepper to taste
1 tsp. paprika
1 1/2 cups brown lentils
4 cans (14 oz. can) vegetable broth or water (about 7 cups, plus more as needed to thin the soup.  I added another can of broth for a total of 5 cans.)
1 can (14.5 oz.) petite diced tomatoes with juice
2 cups chopped spinach (tightly packed, 4-5 oz spinach)
salt to taste (I didn't use any salt since I used canned vegetable broth)

Heat olive oil in large heavy dutch oven, add cumin seeds and cook over medium heat until fragrant and starting to pop, about 3 minutes. (Stir a few times so they don't burn.) Stir in onion, minced garlic, ground coriander, and black pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until onions are softened, about 4 minutes. Stir in the paprika and cook about 1 minute more.

Add lentils and vegetable broth, bring to a low boil and then reduce heat, and simmer uncovered about 30-40 minutes, or until lentils are quite tender.  (Depending on how much water has evaporated and how much the lentils have expanded you may want to add another can of broth or some water at this point.  I added a whole can more vegetable broth)

Add diced tomatoes and juice and chopped spinach and simmer uncovered 20-30 more minutes, until soup ingredients are well blended and lentils are starting to break apart. Season to taste with salt and serve hot.

Click Here for Printer Friendly Recipe

South Beach Suggestions:
This soup is a perfect dish for any phase of the South Beach Diet, but dried beans and lentils are a limited food for Phase One so I would eat this with something like a salad with Kalamata Olive Vinaigrette.  For phase two or three, you could have a larger serving or add some South Beach Diet friendly bread to dip into the soup.

Nutritional Information?
I chose the South Beach Diet to manage my weight partly so I wouldn't have to count calories, carbs, points, or fat grams, but if you want nutritional information for a recipe, I recommend entering the recipe into Calorie Count, which will calculate it for you.

More Delicious-Sounding Vegan Soups:
(Recipes from other blogs may not be South Beach Diet friendly, check ingredients.)

Mexican Red Lentil Stew with Lime and Cilantro ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Black-Eyed Pea and Vegetable Soup ~ Lisa's Kitchen

Black Bean and Rice Soup with Cilantro and Lime ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

Stormy Black Bean Soup from Fat Free Vegan Kitchen

Spicy Vegan Black Bean Soup with Cilantro and Green Tabasco ~ Kalyn's Kitchen

(Want even more recipes?  I find these recipes from other blogs using Food Blog Search.)

Blogger Disclosures:
Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and Kalyn's Kitchen earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

This soup was first posted for a bloging event sponsored by Tinned Tomatoes and Lisa's Kitchen
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Posts may include links to my affiliate account at, and this blog earns a few cents on the dollar if readers purchase the items I recommend, so thanks for supporting my blog when you shop at Amazon!

More to Chew On:


  1. YUM! Looks very tasty. I was leaning toward lentil soup yesterday, but ended up making split pea instead. I love both!

  2. Kalyn, As always your soups look and sound delicious. I love lentils and would love to try this recipe, but I don't see the lentils listed in your recipe anywhere. HELP!
    Thanks, KW

  3. Kellypea, me too.

    KW, thanks, good catch. I hate it when I do that. Just edited the recipe.

  4. That looks absolutely gorgeous Kalyn! A really nice combination of flavours that seem so obvious as I read the recipe, but I would have never thought of putiing them together!
    Thank you for getting our new challenge of to a good start!

  5. Greeks are partial to lentils as they are delicious, cheap, filling and good for you.

    Throw in some olives and bread and it's a meal.

  6. I've never met a lentil soup I didn't like! Adding spinach is an unusual and lovely touch -- I'll have to try that.

  7. love your soup, it looks so hearty

  8. Kalyn, that looks so good! All of my favorite ingredients in one single soup pot :)

  9. Oh, Kalyn, do you think we could be sister? Lentils and spinach and cumin - that's me!! I like this one already. Thanks.

  10. I'm so happy people like the sound of this one because I'm always so critical of my photos and I didn't think the photo did it justice. I really loved the soup though.

    Sounds like lentils, spinach, and tomatoes are beloved ingredients for a lot of my friends!

    Tanna, I'd love to have you for a sister! Wouldn't that be fun? None of my sisters are really foodies, although Rand is.

  11. Kalyn, I always love your soups, but this one I think tops them all. That's something coming from a carnivore like me!

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. I love lentil soup! This is a perfect recipe for these cold snowy days in Utah!

  13. Lovely soup Kalyn! Thanks for your submission!

  14. Wow! This looks delicious!
    We eat lentil soup a lot, but have never thought of putting spinach in it. I will definitely be trying this soon.

  15. I like your version of this soup. Is it a big can (28 oz.), or small can (14 oz.) of tomatoes?

  16. Lentil soup sounds perfect on a night like this- with snow falling outside the window.

  17. Annade, I used a small can (14.5 oz) but I think a big can would be fine too, there would just be more tomatoes. (Another edit of the recipe. Good thing you guys are proofreading for me!

  18. Kalyn, this sounds delicious and is just up my alley! I tend to have most of these ingredients on hand most of the time, so I can't wait to try it. And soup, of course, is the perfect winter meal.

  19. Looks great and tasty. The right dish for a cold winter evening.

  20. That soup looks both tasty and healthy. I have been meaning to try using with lentils.

  21. I just posted on something very similar! Can never get enough of lentil soups. :)

  22. Ooooh. If I weren't already making tomato soup on this cold rainy day, this would have my name on it.

    Sounds like a great recipe!

  23. Oh, it looks so good, Kalyn! I have a surplus of lentils just waiting to be used. Oddly enough, I made a very similar soup for the No Croutons event -- mine combines barley with lentils. I can hardly wait to see what other veggie soups people are making for the event.

  24. Kalyn, this looks so delicious & super healthy! I love anything with lentils especially with cumin added! Cheers, Heather

  25. Mmm, soup. You know I'll never turn down a new soup recipe. :) This sounds very comforting and wonderful - we're trying to do more vegetarian meals as well, so this is certainly on my wavelength.

  26. I love lentil soup, and yours looks delicious! Thanks for the shout out. :-)

  27. Oh wow, perfect for these ridiculous snowy cold days...too much stupid snow ya know. Lentils are wonderful, love em'!

  28. Gorguous for our winter dinners. We can't find vegetarian substitute of chiken stock in france, but a vegetable stock will be very fine.

  29. I love lentil soup and look forward to trying this one very soon.

  30. I discovered your blog yesterday, spent all morning copying and pasting great-looking recipes, and made this soup tonight for dinner. It was.... amazing! One of most delicious soups I have had in a long time. I made it with red lentils and fresh tomatoes, since they were all I had on hand, so I can attest to these modifications as well. Thanks so much, Kalyn!
    - a newbie SouthBeacher

  31. Tasted great! Thanks for the recipie.

  32. yum-MO!! I just made this soup and it is sooo good! I posted a link to your recipe on Twitter Sunday but it is so good, I am going to post it again. Not only is the presentation gorgeous thanks to the spinach and tomato (I used fresh, as I had some that were turning soon) but it's sooo yummy, I'm going back for healthy seconds. Thx a million and keep it up!

  33. Jessica, thanks. So glad you liked it.

  34. Kalyn, This sounds delish! Do you have to soak the lentils prior to adding them?

  35. Anonymous, lentils never need pre-soaking, which is just one of the things I love about them.

  36. What a lovely looking soup. I love to have lentils and I have never thought of using them this way. Thank you

  37. Thanks to google, I found your fantastic recipe. Embellished it a bit with a sweet potato and some pre-cooked wheatberries. A great meal in one bowl. Good thing it turned out well-- I doubled it! Thanks so much.

  38. Great Recipes! Looks delicious and yummy! Thanks for posting this!
    Love your recipes!

  39. Glad you like it. I need to make this again and take new photos!

  40. Yay-another vegan dish! I'll definitely be making this soup this weekend. Sounds delicious. I love cumin, lentils, and spinach.

  41. I made this soup from your recipe just last month. I added some feta cheese when I served it, which took it straight over the top of wonderful.

  42. Matthew, glad you like it.

    Debbie, I like the sound of that. Everything tastes better with feta!

  43. I agree with you about getting our soups on before spring is sprung and wanted to do something like this today. I have all the ingredients and will be enjoying this tonight! Once again, you've combined foods I love in a way I might never have imagined. Thanks, Kalyn.

  44. Doren, I hope you really enjoy it!

  45. I loved this recipe when I saw vegan and gluten free, and I loved it even more when I saw the ingredients! Thanks for the recipe.

  46. My pleasure, so glad you like it.

  47. Kalyn, I can't wait to make this soup, but I'm having a hard time finding cumin seeds...what quantity of ground cumin would you recommend? thank you - LOVE your blog!

  48. Thanks Alisa. I think most grocery stores will have cumin seed, or an Indian or mediterranean grocer will have it. Since it's simmered along time, I think the seeds will really be better, but if you can't find any I'd use slightly less ground cumin. Then towards the end, taste the soup and see if you want to add more.

  49. This soup is delicious and so good for you!


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