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Spicy lentil soup is hearty, filling, delicious, loaded with fiber, iron, and plant-based protein, low in fat, and made in just one pot using a stove, crockpot, or Instant Pot for a super satisfying meat-free meal!

completed Spicy Lentil Soup plated against a white surface
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Hearty, Nutrient-Dense, Easy Spicy Lentil Soup Recipe

We’ve likely said it 20 times before, but we can’t get over how beneficial lentils are to our low-budget plant-based kitchens. They’re loaded with fiber, plant-based protein, and several micronutrients (like iron, folate, B vitamins, and more). Plus, they’re SUPER versatile – whether making vegan sloppy joes, meatballs, burgers, or a classic hearty, easy lentil soup.

This spicy lentil soup is made with just a dozen simple, inexpensive kitchen and pantry staples in one pot. The combination of mirepoix (celery, carrot, and onion) with lentils, tomatoes, and garlic makes for an earthy, savory, slightly sweet flavor, made all the more addictive with earthy cumin, aromatic Italian seasoning, and red pepper flakes for a touch (or more) of heat.

Once simmered on the stove, in an Instant Pot, or a crockpot, the ingredients are transformed into a cozy, comforting, wholesome, hearty, nutritious, filling, flavor-packed, satisfying meat-free meal (that’s naturally dairy-free and gluten-free!). Plus, it tastes even better on day two – and even freezes well! What’s not to love?!

Looking for more hearty vegan soup ideas? Check out our split pea soup, carrot lentil soup, Mexican bean soup, or vegetable barley soup.

The Ingredients

ingredients for Spicy Lentil Soup on a white surface
  • Lentils: We used dried brown lentils, but green lentils will also work.
  • Mirepoix: Make a flavor-packed spiced lentil soup with plenty of depth with the addition of onion (yellow or white), carrot, and celery. To save time, you could use pre-prepared mirepoix mix (sometimes labeled ‘soup base’).
  • Garlic: Fresh garlic cloves are best, but powdered garlic works in a pinch.
  • Tomatoes: Use high-quality canned, diced, fire-roasted tomatoes.
  • Vegetable broth: Use pre-made broth or a combination of bouillon cubes/ powder + boiling water. Use a reduced sodium version, if preferred.
  • Oil: Use a neutral-flavored cooking oil, like olive oil or avocado oil.
  • Seasonings: We use a simple yet flavor-packed combination of ground cumin, Italian seasoning (or dried thyme/rosemary), red pepper flakes (adjust the amount to taste – or cayenne pepper), sea salt (or soy sauce for umami), and black pepper.
  • Spinach: (optional) Fresh or frozen, for extra nutrients. Kale would work, too.
  • Parsley: (or cilantro) To garnish, for a touch of freshness and aromatic depth.
  • Lemon: A small amount of acidic lemon juice will brighten the flavor and add depth. Lime juice, apple cider vinegar, or even balsamic vinegar should also work.

What Could I Add to Spicy Tomato Lentil Soup?

There are several ways to adapt this recipe for spicy lentil soup, including:

  • Smoked paprika: For a smoky flavor in the spicy tomato and lentil soup.
  • Carrot and lentil soup: Increase the ratio of carrots (sliced or shredded) to lentils.
  • More vegetables: Bulk up the lentil and spinach soup further with peas, sweet potato (in ½-inch chunks), squash, pumpkin, mushrooms, cauliflower, zucchini, etc.
  • Creamy soup: Add some full-fat canned coconut milk or dairy-free cream.
  • Vegan yogurt: Add a dollop of dairy-free yogurt to the spicy lentil soup when serving for creaminess.
  • Vegan sausage: Add some vegan sausage to boost the protein further in this vegan spicy tomato lentil soup.

How to Make Spicy Lentil Soup

  • First, sort through (to remove debris) and rinse the lentils. Then, finely dice the onion, carrot, and celery. Also, mince the garlic.
  • Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large, heavy-based Dutch oven/pan over medium-high heat.
  • Once hot, add the onion, garlic, carrot, celery, and red pepper flakes. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover with a lid, and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring often.
  • Add the cumin and Italian seasoning and saute for a further 20-30 seconds.
  • Next, stir in the tomatoes, lentils, vegetable broth, salt, and pepper and return the heat to medium-high.
  • Cover with a lid and bring to a boil, then immediately reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for about 40 minutes, lid on (stirring occasionally).
  • Taste the spicy lentil soup and adjust any of the seasoning then add the spinach and parsley (if using) and lemon juice. Cover it with a lid to allow the spinach to naturally wilt for just a few minutes, then serve and enjoy!

Slow Cooker Spicy Lentil Soup

Complete steps 1 to 3 as written above, then in step 4, transfer everything (except the spinach, parsley, and lemon) to a crockpot.

Cover and cook over LOW for 7-9 hours (add more broth at any point if needed) or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Stir in the final ingredients, leave for several minutes for the spinach to wilt, and enjoy!

Instant Pot Lentil Soup

Use the sauté function for the first 3 steps, then add the remaining ingredients (except spinach, parsley, and lemon). Stir well, then cover and cook on manual HIGH pressure for 15 minutes.

Once the timer goes off, allow the pressure to release naturally before opening the lid. Stir in the last ingredients and replace the lid for just a few minutes, then serve the spicy tomato lentil soup, and enjoy.

FAQs

Can I use red lentils?

Technically, yes (and spicy red lentil soup is delicious!), but red lentils don’t take as long to cook (about 20 minutes) and will break down into a softer consistency

Can I blend the soup?

Absolutely! If you’d prefer a creamier and/or smoother vegan spicy lentil soup then feel free to blend some or all of the soup to your desired consistency.

Can I make lentil soup without oil?

Yes, use a splash of vegetable broth or water instead to sauté the aromatics/mirepoix.

Pro Recipe Tips

  • To adjust the consistency: If you’d prefer a brothier soup, add more vegetable broth. For a smoother consistency, blend some or all of it.
  • If blending: Make sure to hold down the lid while it blends, then open it occasionally – while not blending – to release steam.
  • Bloom the spices: Don’t skip these steps as it really helps to bring out their flavor and add depth to the soup flavor.
  • Season to taste: Make sure to taste the soup after the simmering step and adjust any of the ingredients to your liking (spice, salt, etc.).
  • Make plenty of leftovers: This spicy lentil and tomato soup will taste even better on day two, giving time for the flavors to meld.
  • Don’t skip the lemon juice: A small amount of an acidic ingredient really brightens and adds depth for a more full-bodied flavor.
completed Spicy Lentil Soup plated against a white surface

Serving Suggestions

Enjoy this incredibly satisfying, nutrient-dense spicy tomato lentil soup alone or in smaller portions with:

Storage Instructions

Allow the spicy lentil spinach soup to cool and then store the leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days. Plus, it’ll taste even better on day two and three.

You can also freeze it in Ziplock/Stasher bags (spread flat), a silicone muffin tray, or freezer-safe containers for up to 3 months. Leave it to thaw in the refrigerator overnight before reheating.

Reheat the spinach lentil soup in a microwave (1-2 minutes on full power) or on the stovetop over medium-low heat until warm. Add extra broth or water, if needed.

completed Spicy Lentil Soup in a storage container

More Vegan Lentil Recipes

Photos by Alfonso Revilla

completed Spicy Lentil Soup plated against a white surface

Spicy Lentil Soup

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 1 hour
Total: 1 hour 10 minutes
Servings: 4 to 6
Spicy lentil soup is hearty, filling, delicious, loaded with fiber, iron, and plant-based protein, low in fat, and made in just one pot using a stove, crockpot, or Instant Pot for a super satisfying meat-free meal!

Ingredients 

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 3 celery ribs, diced
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of red chili flakes, plus more as needed
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 3 teaspoons of Italian seasoning
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans of diced fire roasted tomatoes, in their juices
  • 1 cup of uncooked brown lentils
  • 6 cups of water
  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 3 cups of spinach (optional)
  • cup of parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 1 lemon

Instructions 

  • In a large pot with a lid, heat the oil over medium-high heat.
  • Add the onions, carrots, celery, garlic, and red chili flakes. Mix well, reduce the fire to medium low, cover with a lid and cook for 5 minutes – regularly mixing to prevent burning.
  • Add the cumin and Italian seasoning. Mix well and cook for 20 seconds while mixing.
  • Add the fire roasted tomatoes in their juices, lentils, water, bouillon cubes, salt, and pepper. Mix well and turn the heat to medium high. Cover with the lid, bring to a boil, mix one more time to ensure the bouillon cubes are fully melted and incorporated in the water. Then turn the heat to a simmer and cook for 40 minutes with the lid on.
  • When the 40 minutes have passed, taste to check if the lentils are cooked and to taste seasoning levels. Adjust time and seasoning if needed.
  • When the lentils are fully cooked, add the spinach (if using), parsley (if using), and lemon juice. Gently push the raw spinach down into the broth. Cover with the lid and allow the soup to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes.
  • Serve hot.

Video

Notes

  • To adjust the consistency: If you’d prefer a brothier soup, add more vegetable broth. For a smoother consistency, blend some or all of it.
  • If blending: Make sure to hold down the lid while it blends, then open it occasionally – while not blending – to release steam.
  • Bloom the spices: Don’t skip these steps as it really helps to bring out their flavor and add depth to the soup flavor.

Nutrition

Calories: 320kcalCarbohydrates: 47gProtein: 16gFat: 9gSaturated Fat: 1gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 5gSodium: 604mgPotassium: 906mgFiber: 20gSugar: 8gVitamin A: 10959IUVitamin C: 37mgCalcium: 167mgIron: 7mg

Disclaimer: Although plantbasedonabudget.com attempts to provide accurate nutritional information, kindly note that these are only estimates. Nutritional information may be affected based on the product type, the brand that was purchased, and in other unforeseeable ways. Plantbasedonabudget.com will not be held liable for any loss or damage resulting for your reliance on nutritional information. If you need to follow a specific caloric regimen, please consult your doctor first.

Additional Info

Author: Toni Okamoto
Course: Dinner, Soup
Cuisine: American
Method: Stovetop
Diet: Vegan
Tried this recipe?Please tag us at @PlantBasedOnABudget! 🙂
About

Toni Okamoto

“They say you are what you eat, so I strive to be healthy.
My goal in life is not to be rich or wealthy,
‘Cause true wealth comes from good health and wise ways…
we got to start taking better care of ourselves ” – Dead Prez

More about Toni Okamoto

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    1. Hi! Complete steps 1 to 3 as written above, then in step 4, transfer everything (except the spinach, parsley, and lemon) to a crockpot.

      Cover and cook over LOW for 7-9 hours (add more broth at any point if needed) or on HIGH for 3-4 hours. Stir in the final ingredients, leave for several minutes for the spinach to wilt, and enjoy!