Vegetarian Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is a hearty, thick soup and is very popular with family and friends. Many lentil soup recipes call for adding a ham bone or pork or other meat. This is a vegetarian version that has no animal products or animal fat. It uses a little bit of olive oil but that is a good, healthy fat.

This is a hearty, delicious and healthy soup recipe that is sure to be a favortie with friends and family. It is low in fat and high in satisfying flavor.

Vegetarian Lentil Soup Ingredients:

  • 1 lb dry green lentils (about 2 1/4 cups)
  • 9 cups water
  • 3 large tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3 med carrots, sliced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp basil
  • 1 tsp oregano
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tbsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil

You want to cook the different ingredients in stages and gradually add them to the soup. First you cook the lentils by themselves in water, only. Cook the onions and tomatoes separately over sautéed garlic before adding to the soup. After the lentils have cooked by themselves, add the celery and carrots, and then the cooked onions and tomatoes. It is important to do it this way. If you add all the ingredients to the soup all at once, the lentils won’t have the proper texture and it will have a completely different flavor. Add the seasonings except for the salt into the water while cooking the lentils. Add the salt to taste towards the end when adding the final ingredients.

Add lentils to a large cooking pot and sort through them to remove any stones or damaged seeds. Soak lentils in water for 1 hour. Afterwards, rinse the lentils and then strain them. Next, add water, bay leaves, basil, oregano and pepper. Use 1 quart of water per cup of dry lentils. Place a lid on the pot and bring to a boil, and then reduce heat to low. Cook the lentils over a low flame for a couple of hours before adding vegetables. The low flame is needed to slow-cook the lentils and will prevent the soup from burning.

After a couple of hours, check the lentils. They should be soft – not crunchy or chewy. Add chopped celery and carrots to the pot and continue cooking.

Next, add olive oil to a deep frying pan and sauté the chopped garlic for a couple of minutes over a medium flame. Keep the flame low enough to avoid overheating the olive oil. Add the chopped onions before the garlic becomes browned. Cook the onions for a couple of minutes until they are soft and translucent. You don’t want the onions to be browned, either. Next, add the chopped tomatoes in the frying pan with the onions. Cook about 15 to 20 minutes until the tomatoes have broken down.

Add the cooked onions and tomatoes to the pot and cook for another 1 1/2 hours to complete the cooking and to marry up all the flavors. The carrots and celery should be cooked but not so much that they become mushy. Serve hot. Total cooking time: about 4 hours.

Shown below is a photo of all the ingredients. Starting in the back and going left to right: pepper, salt, olive oil, basil, oregano, celery, onion, tomatoes, carrots, bay leaves, garlic and dry green lentils.

First, sort through the lentils and pull out any damaged seeds. Sprinkle a few into a large cooking pot. This makes it easy to spot them and pick them out – a little at a time.

I’ve tried other ways of doing this, emptying all of them on a flat surface and sorting through them that way and waiting until after soaking them and pulling them out that way, but this way is the fastest way to sort through them that I have figured out.

Simply pick out the bad ones. They are easy to remove this way. After sorting this small amount, dump them into a clean bowl and repeat step 1 and 2 until you have sorted through all the lentils.

Rinse the lentils a few times to clean them. Use a strainer.

Add enough water to cover the lentils a few inches and set aside and allow to soak for one hour.

After one hour, pour out the soaking water over a strainer like the earler step and then carefully measure 9 cups of water and add to the cooking pot with the lentils.

Stir in the basil, oregano and pepper and then add the bay leaves.

Cover the pot and then bring to a boil. Turn down the flame to low and simmer over a low flame for two hours, covered, stirring occasionally.

Now start cutting all the vegetables. Start by peeling and slicing the carrots.

Next, cut the celery. They go in with the carrots so I’ll keep these in a bowl and set aside for now.

Next, chop the tomatoes. Place them in a bowl and set aside until later.

Tip: We made this soup with home grown, vine ripened tomatoes. Use fresh, ripe, natually sweet tomatoes for the best tasting soup you will ever eat. If you buy tomatoes from the store, it won’t hurt if they are a little soft just before they go bad. That’s when they are the best for the soup.

Now chop the onion.

Finally, chop the garlic and set it aside for now. Please see note above. Set the timer to know when to start cooking the garlic in olive oil.

After two hours check the lentils to make sure they are cooked. At this time add the carrots and celery to the soup.

Stir in the vegetables.

After adding the carrots and celery it will be time to cook the onions and tomatoes. Start by adding some olive oil to a large pan.

Next add the chopped garlic. Cook the garlic in olive oil for a few minutes until just before it starts to brown. Keep the flame low enough to avoid overheating the olive oil.

Add the chopped onions and continue cooking.

Lower the flame. Cook until soft and translucent.

After about 8 to 10 minutes, add the chopped tomatoes.

Cook the onions and tomatoes for about 20 minutes over a medium-low flame until the tomatoes change color to a reddish-orange. The tomatoes should be completely broken down.

Next add the cooked onions and tomatoes to the soup.

Stir everything and then add salt. Cover the pot and allow to cook for another hour and a half.

Taste the soup after about an hour and a half. This last bit of cooking is to marry up all the flavors and for tenderizing the carrots and celery.

Serve hot. This is a healthy, delicious soup that will be a big hit with family and friends.

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