This carrot and lentil soup is a flavorful meatless soup recipe! The red lentils and carrots are complemented with cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, and chili, resulting in a creamy, substantial soup.
Why you'll love it
Lentils are a pretty incredible budget ingredient and you can buy them in bulk at health food stores to make them even cheaper. They, like other pulses, are a wonderful source of protein and are low in fat. To save even more money, we add lentils to other recipes such as curries or pies to bulk them up and substitute some of the meat.
This spicy carrot and lentil soup is filling and nourishing. It's basically a hug in a bowl. Scoop it up with some crusty toast or a soft flatbread on a cool day. It's nutritious comfort food!
Because of the lentils, this carrot and lentil soup is extremely creamy, almost like a bisque, and high in protein. It's freezer friendly too so it's excellent for meal prep.
- Healthy and hearty - This soup is extremely nutrient-dense while being extremely soothing. The ideal combination.
- Budget-friendly - Because the lentils bulk up this soup, it is quite inexpensive to make. When money is limited but you still want something satisfying and healthful, this is the dish to make.
- Low in fat - Because lentils and carrots are both low in fat, this soup is also low in fat.
- Protein-rich - Lentils are a good source of protein, thus this soup is high in protein.
- Vegan - This is vegan by nature.
What you'll need
- Olive oil - You might use vegetable oil instead of olive oil, but we love the flavor of olive oil.
- Onion - This is the soup's foundation. You might replace it with shallots for a sweeter flavor.
- Carrots - The star of this soup is the carrot. We used standard store carrots to make this a very low-cost dish.
- Lentils - Red split lentils are the greatest option for this soup. They are inexpensive and easy to find, cook quickly, and add a creamy texture to the soup. If you like, you could use canned, pre-cooked green lentils instead. Of course, this would drastically alter the color of the soup.
- Herbs/spices - We used cumin since it works well with carrot and chili powder for a little heat. When serving, some fresh coriander is added, although fresh parsley might also be used.
- Tomato puree - This not only adds flavor but also thickens the carrot and lentil soup and gives it a deeper red color.
How to make carrot and lentil soup
This is an overview with step-by-step photos. Full ingredients & instructions are in the recipe card below.
Chop the onion and mince the garlic, then combine them in a big pan with the olive oil.
Cook for 5 minutes, or until the onion is transparent and fragrant.
Mix in all of the spices, salt, and carrots.
Cook for 5 minutes more to soften the carrots and enable the flavors to mingle.
Combine the red lentils, tomato paste, coconut milk, and vegetable broth in a mixing bowl. You'll need 4 cups of vegetable broth, which is equivalent to 1 carton.
Bring to a boil, then lower to low heat and cover for about 20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Transfer to a high-speed blender and process until fully smooth (you may need to do this in two batches depending on the size).
For this, you can use a food processor or immersion blender, but I find that a high-speed blender works best.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
If you want to make the little swirls in the pictures, simply add little droplets of cream to the top of the soup and gently swirl a toothpick around the top of the soup to spread it out.
Do the lentils need to be soaked?
No! In fact, I strongly advise against it. Red lentils cook quickly and, unlike other legumes, do not need to be soaked.
You can rinse them in a fine mesh colander to eliminate any unwanted particles, but don't soak them.
When you add them to the soup, you want them to be in their entirety so that the vegetable broth can cook them and infuse the flavors into them.
What to serve with carrot and lentil soup
Because this carrot and lentil soup is low in calories, we normally serve it as an appetizer or with a sandwich. With them, a grilled cheese sandwich is the ultimate comfort food. You could also serve it with a chicken or turkey sandwich to add some protein.
You may also keep things simple by serving this with a warmed-up French baguette or croutons on top. Alternatively, both. You could even go the extra mile and create your own bread.
Substitutions and variations
This is a terrific basic soup that you can customize whatever you wish. If you want spicy meals, try a little paprika for some smokiness and then some chili flakes for extra spice.
If you want to make this carrot and lentil soup even more decadent, add some grated Parmesan right before serving. It dissolves into the soup and tastes great.
A drizzle of olive oil on top towards the end, along with a sprinkling of fresh basil, really completes the dish. This soup can be made in a variety of ways depending on the spices and herbs you use. You might add more coriander and chili powder to make it more Mexican.
I recommend topping this soup with some fresh parsley and beautiful robust bread (I'm currently looking for good gluten-free bread!). It's enough to serve as a meal on its own, but it's also wonderful with a side salad.
Try these next
Carrot and Lentil Soup
- 1 yellow onion diced
- 2 cups chopped carrots
- 2 cups red lentils
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 tablespoon tomato puree
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ¼ cup fresh coriander
- 3 tablespoon cream
- In a big pan, heat the oil and sauté the carrots and onion for 2 minutes.
- Add the lentils, and cook for another minute or two.
- Simmer for 30 minutes with the remaining ingredients, except the cream. If it becomes too thick, add a little more water.
- Transfer to a high-speed blender and process until fully smooth (you may need to do this in two batches depending on the size of your blender). You can also use an immersion blender if you have one.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste. If desired, thin it down with additional vegetable broth.
- Return to the saucepan and top with chopped parsley, red pepper flakes, and drops of cream.
- This soup will keep in the fridge for about 5 days after it's made. Allow to entirely cool before transferring to a container.
- You don't want the lentils to cook too rapidly, so keep the heat on low and cover the saucepan. Transfer the soup to the blender only after all of the liquid has been absorbed by the lentils and they are thoroughly soft.
- The amount of salt you need will be determined by the saltiness of your soup. Because I used reduced sodium vegetarian broth, I needed closer to 1 ½ teaspoons of salt. Start with ½ teaspoon of ordinary broth and adjust as required.
- This soup can be frozen for up to a month. Allow some room in the container for expansion and defrost it in the fridge overnight before heating it on the stove.