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Posted on Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 4:54 a.m.

Lentil-Vegetable Soup is full of savory, nutritional goodness

By Peggy Lampman


Lentil Vegetable Soup

Peggy Lampman | Contributor

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Here's a recipe that doesn't require much effort, yet yields a pot of savory, nutritional goodness your body will applaud. And yes, we're still in hot soup weather mode. Despair not, look at it this way: The Michigan fruit orchards are loving this cold weather. Last year's unseasonable warmth was devastating to the apple and cherry industry, so smile and warm up to a cup of hot soup.

I begged the recipe from Eric Rabkin, who shared his marvelous Spinach-Nut-Loaf a couple of weeks back.

Frozen spinach has to be my favorite freezer staple.When my crisper is barren of healthy greens, I can always pull out frozen spinach to help insure I reach my body's daily veggie requirement.

The following recipe makes a thick, vegetable-packed bowl. Add additional stock if you prefer a brothier brew. The addition of balsamic vinegar wasn't in Eric's recipe, but a reflexive addition; I love a small amount of quality balsamic in bean soups, which was such a perfect marriage with the Italian cheese.

Easter's this weekend - here's a link to some of my favorite holiday recipes.

Yield: 6-8 servings
Active Time: 15 minutes
Simmer Time: Approx. 60 minutes


2 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 ribs celery, sliced
2 carrots, peeled and sliced
1 pound mushrooms, ends trimmed and sliced
1 tablespoon finely chopped garlic
1 teaspoon dried Italian herbs
1 (16 ounce) package of dried brown lentils
6-8 cups vegetable, chicken stock or water
1 (8-16) ounce can tomato sauce
1 (10 ounce) package chopped frozen spinach
1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, optional
Grated Italian cheese, such as Parmesan, romano or asiago


1. Heat oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pot. Saute onion, celery and carrots, with a pinch of kosher salt, 5 minutes. Stir in mushrooms and continue until the begin to release their moisture.
2. Stir in garlic and herbs and cook a minute. Stir in lentils, 6 cups stock or water and tomato sauce; bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and cook about 15 minutes. Add spinach to pot, return to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender, adding additional stock for a thinner soup, if desired.
3. Season to taste with kosher salt, freshly ground pepper and balsamic vinegar, if using. Serve topped with fresh grated cheese.

Peggy Lampman is a real-time food writer and photographer posting daily feeds on her website and in the Food & Grocery section of You may also e-mail her at



Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 1:48 p.m.

Peggy, the lentil soup at JG is really good, esp. when you squeeze the lemon wedge into it that they thoughtfully provide! yummy!

Peggy Lampman

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 2:18 p.m.

ummm. lemons - could be a great acidic substitution for the balsamic. Thanks, mady!


Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 7:32 a.m.

I made a lentil soup (not this recipe) and it came out rather bland ( I did use alot of spices) and the lentils seemed "gritty". Any suggestions? I want my lentil soup to be as yummy as this recipe shows in the photo or be like the one at Jerusalem Garden.

Sarah Rigg

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : 12:30 p.m.

A lot of people will tell you that you don't have to pre-soak lentils, but I always do - for an hour at least, and longer if possible. I also don't cook any bean or legume in tomato sauce until AFTER the bean is softened. The acid in tomato can keep dried beans from cooking properly, so I only add any tomato products toward the end of the soup- or stew-making process. Your mileage may vary on this topic.

Peggy Lampman

Tue, Mar 26, 2013 : noon

I've never tried the Jerusalem Garden version but after your comment that will change Back to your question. Gritty? Make sure you pick through your lentils, rinse them and remove any stones. Also make sure they're cooked long enough. Different lentils have different cooking times. Red lentils, for instance, cook up for me the quickest, which gets me thinking of a soup I used to make eons ago - curried red lentil soup, which no one could ever say was bland. I began by sauteeing garlic, celery, carrots and onions with ground cumin, garam masala and hot peppers. Then stirred in the red lentils and stock and simmered, stirring until the lentils were homogenous and creamy. Yum! Eric's soup (pictured) is delicious but you could try kicking it up further by stirring in a fistful of fresh basil at the end and making sure your Italian cheese is top drawer. A great balsamic, such as the 18-year I purchased at Fustinis. is perfect. Good luck!

Peggy Lampman

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 6:43 p.m.

Hi Jessica - I used cremini mushrooms but any mushroom your heart desires would be just fine. Since it has a bit of an Italian flavor profile, some rehydrated porcini mushrooms would be scrumptious! Peggy

Jessica Webster

Mon, Mar 25, 2013 : 5:09 p.m.

This looks amazing, Peggy. Did you use just button mushrooms, or a mix or different types?