Meatless Mondays: Simple Lentil Soup (With Paleo and Gluten-Free Option)

Perfect lentil soup that's easy to make and easy on the wallet.


Let me start by apologizing to my mom. I’m sorry Mom.

Thankfully, she doesn’t use the internet and I don’t really go into detail with all of my posts so she can remain blissfully unaware of what I’m about to say.

I don’t like my mom’s beans.

There, I said it. My mom is an incredible cook, truly, but growing up I always hated eating beans and anything in the bean family. It doesn’t help that I’m Latino and rice and beans are staples in our diet so there was no avoiding it no matter how much I disliked them. Once I was old enough to start serving my own food, I discreetly added more rice and less beans and just sort of pushed them off to one side of my plate for easy disposal once I was done. Given my strong reaction against the things, I figured I just wasn’t a fan of beans and moved on.

That was until I started to go out for meals on my own and had my first real religious experience with beans. Okay, maybe religious experience is a bit extreme, but it was the first time I ate something in the bean family that not only didn’t want to make me hurl, but made me want to shovel more onto my plate and into my mouth because it tasted so damn good. It was when I realized that it wasn’t the beans fault, it was just the way my mom prepared them. Yikes. How was I going to avoid this landmine?

Luckily, I went away to college and I had four years to experiment with beans on my own to figure out the best flavor combinations that suited my tastes. I think I’ve done a pretty good job of figuring that out, but one particular legume that’s given me some trouble has been lentils.

Lentils are much simpler to make from scratch than say, red or black beans which require hours of soaking and boiling to get them soft and tasty. But you have to be careful with them too. Since they’re smaller and grittier in texture, you could end up with a mushy mess or end up in bland city. I’ve had issues getting this just right, but I think I finally figured it out with this recipe.


Lentil Soup Ingredients

  • 1 cup of green lentils, washed and rinsed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • ½ large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cups of vegetable broth, low-sodium
  • 1 generous cup of baby spinach
  • 1 ½ tbsp of tomato paste
  • 3 garlic cloves, mashed
  • 2 tbsps of red wine vinegar
  • 1 tbsp of fresh thyme, roughly chopped
  • 1 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • ½ tsp of ground black pepper

*If you’d like to make this Paleo-friendly, just omit the red wine vinegar and replace with lemon. For gluten-free, check that the tomato paste, broth, vinegar, and lentils (if you’re using from a can) were produced without gluten. That’s it! 


1. Place a 4 quart stock pot over medium heat and add olive oil. Allow it to heat for 30-45 seconds or until you can smell the oil, then add the garlic.


2. Saute garlic for 30 seconds. Add the carrots and onions and mix well. Cook for about 2-3 minutes and then add the tomato paste. Mix well.

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3. Let the onions, carrots, garlic and paste to cook for 3-5 minutes or until the onions begin to soften. Pour the vegetable stock into the pot and then throw in the lentils, salt, pepper, and thyme. Raise the heat to high and stir everything together. Wait for the soup to boil before reducing to a simmer and placing the lid.


4. Leave the soup to simmer. Keep your eye on it and stir often to make sure the lentils are mixed well . After 15-20 minutes, check to see if they’re softening up. If the soup consistency is too dry for you at this point, you can add another half cup of broth or water and mix well. Cover with the lid and give it another 15-20 minutes or until the lentils are completely cooked through.


5. Pour in the vinegar, mix well, and let it simmer for another 2 minutes. Lastly, add the spinach and stir into the soup until it begins to wilt. Turn off the heat after about 2-3 minutes.


6. Pour your serving into a bowl and…that’s it: ENJOY!! Serve with a side of crusty seeded bread or just eat it by itself as I did.  It works either way. 🙂



This is a perfect base for any variation that you’d like to try with lentils. Consider removing the garlic and add curry spices (coriander, garam masala, cumin, cardamom, etc) and yogurt to give it a South Asian flair. Or you can keep it in season by adding leeks, sweet potatoes or squash, and hearty greens like Swiss chard. There’s a lot that you can do to really adapt this to what suits your taste.

Also, keep in mind that one cup of lentils gives you about 18g of protein, 16g of fiber and is also a great source of iron, potassium, folate and a number of vitamins and minerals, which makes this a hearty option for a healthy, meatless meal. It’s also incredibly cheap! I made all of this with what I had on hand in my kitchen and it cost me less than $10 to put it all together.

Cheap, healthy, meatless, and most importantly, delicious! Sorry mom, but this recipe is a keeper. 🙂

8 Replies to “Meatless Mondays: Simple Lentil Soup (With Paleo and Gluten-Free Option)”

  1. This recipe comes at the most perfect time Maribel! I watched the movie Forks over Knives yesterday and it inspired me to go “mostly” meat free again. We got in the car and went to my fave health food store and loaded up on greens. One of the things on my list was organic green lentils 🙂 Go figure! I got a HUGE bag of them! I will make this soup today and will post it later. Thanks for the simple yet nutritious and delicious recipe! xo Éva


    1. Ooo, paleo’s done huh? I have that movie on my movie queue as well- I take it you liked it?
      I definitely had lentil fear before I started experimenting with this soup, but after getting this down I feel pretty good about playing around with it. I LOVE moroccan lentil soup so that’ll come up soon. I’m glad this recipe was perfectly timed with your recent shopping trip. Looking forward to seeing your recipe!! 🙂


  2. Dear Maribel,
    I go between trying so many different ways of eating it makes my head spin. While I was on vacation my diet was 90 carbs and fat! Yup! Gluten galore for 2 weeks and I came home and paid the price. I decided that I need more fibre in my diet and that for some reason I was not getting enough. I used to be vegetarian for about 2 years and felt great! I gave up on that after I was severely bored. I learned so much about nutrition in school that it is almost too much information and it makes it difficult to stick to one plan.
    I made this soup yesterday afternoon and it was AMAZING! I didn’t take a picture of any of the steps but I will post a picture of the final product 🙂 I did some juicing earlier in the day and added the pulp to the soup base along with the onions and carrots. The pulp had cilantro, carrots and celery. I also added turmeric and curry as I didn’t have any tomato paste and I also left out the vinegar and lemon. My daughter doesn’t like lentils and she loved the soup as did my boyfriend. This recipe was so simple and so inexpensive to make that it will be my go-to fall winter soup that I will change ingredients to local and seasonal veggies. Thank you for the wonderful recipe and for keeping it simple. Hugs 🙂


    1. OH my gosh, your variations sounds AMAZING!!!! I love the idea of adding the juice to it as well; very clever. 🙂 I’m on a serious money-saving agenda these days and trying to keep to what’s currently stocked in my pantry and minimizing my market visits (i go every other day-ridiculous), so this bag of lentils was staring at me for days. I’m going to give the curry a try next time because it sounds delicious. As for the diets and food plans: what can I say? I’m in that same boat with you friend. I have a post rattling around in my head about the back and forth with diets, but it’s a constant battle to figure out what works for me, that’s healthy, and won’t make me more obsessive than I already am. Not an easy thing to do. Veggie is a challenge in some ways, but maybe now with all of the newer options out there it could be more fun? Looking forward to sharing the trials and tribulations my friend! 🙂


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