by Olena

Lentil Spinach Soup

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Olena Osipov
4.9 from 26 votes

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This hearty Lentil and Spinach Soup is rich in vegetables and a good source of protein and fiber. A meatless dish full of flavorful ingredients for a balanced meal!

Other lentil soup recipes on our regular dinner rotation include red lentil soup, chicken and lentil soup and this vegetarian lentil soup. There is so much to love about nutritious lentils!

Lentil spinach soup in stove pot with a ladle.

Way back in 2014, my Italian neighbor shared this lentil spinach soup recipe with me, and since then I have improved upon with it with a few spices and it’s been a proven dinner win over and over again!

This healthy soup is the perfect combination of low calorie food and hearty fare. It’s cheap, easy and a fast weeknight dinner or all weekend lunch + dinner (make once, eat five times – I am good at that!).

Why This Is The Best Lentil Soup?

  • One pot meal: Vegetables, fiber, and protein make this a balanced meal for lunch or dinner!
  • Healthy: Lentils are rich in protein, fiber, iron, and folate. Savory, aromatic veggies add additional vitamins and nutrients. 
  • Flavorful: A mirepoix of vegetables adds savory taste while dried spices develop loads of deep flavor by simmering on the stovetop.
  • Diet appropriate: Low calorie, meatless, and gluten free this green lentil soup fits into many healthy lifestyles.
  • Budget friendly: Affordable pantry staples are transformed into a delicious meal!
  • Versatile: The best part about any soup is making it your own! Leave out the parmesan for a vegan lentil soup, add some cooked proteins for a more ‘meaty’ meal, or substitute spinach for another hearty green! 

As if those reasons aren’t enough, this green lentil soup has become such a reader favorite, I have adapted it to both the slow cooker and Instant Pot!

Lentil spinach soup on a ladle in red pot.

Lentil and Spinach Soup Ingredients

  • Green lentils: Both brown and green lentils retain their shape well, so consistency of the soup won’t change. You can use red lentils but because they are split, they tend to almost disintegrate in the soup.
  • Diced tomatoes: Low sodium are the best. You can also use tomato sauce.
  • Veggies: A mirepoix of onion, carrot and celery with garlic.

Mirepoix is a fancy French word for an aromatic flavor base! This combination of vegetables is commonly used in soups and stews. For this recipe, you will want your onion finely diced, your garlic minced, but chop your carrots and celery for added texture in the soup.

  • Dried spices: Ground cumin, oregano, bay leaves and then salt and pepper to taste.
  • Vegetable broth: Low sodium, you can use vegetable bouillon and water if preferred.
  • Fresh or frozen spinach: We buy 3 boxes at a time and freeze 2. Once you add spinach to hot soup it wilts right away anyways. Use frozen spinach in spinach dip or healthy spinach artichoke dip, too!
  • Fresh parsley: Added at the end before serving, adds a pop of color plus fresh herby flavor.
  • Parmesan: Freshly grated for best taste, adds additional savory taste. Omit for a vegan lentil soup.
A can of diced tomatoes, green lentils in bag, onion, celery, carrots, vegetable broth, spinach, spices in jars, and salt and pepper.

Are Lentils Good for You?

  • High protein: With about 30% of their calories from protein, green lentils have the third-highest level of protein of any legume or nut, after soybeans and hemp.
  • High fiber: Lentils are also full of fiber, folate, vitamin B1 and a good source of iron. They help lower cholesterol levels and reduce the risk of heart disease. Their soluble fiber traps carbohydrates and stabilizes blood sugar levels – an example how complex carbs are healthy vs. simple carbs.
  • Low calorie: Lentils are also low in calories and dare me to say help with weight loss. One cup contains 230 calories but leaves you full and satisfied for long.

How to Make Lentil Spinach Soup

Full recipe card is located below.

  • Sauté veggies: This helps bring out all the aromatic flavors! First you will saute your onion with garlic, then add your carrots and celery and cook all until translucent.
  • Add lentils and spices: Sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring here and there.
  • Add broth, tomatoes and remaining spices: Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.

Keeping your pot covered not only helps your lentils get tender more quickly, it keeps liquid from evaporating, and helps with any soup splatter!

  • Add spinach and garnishes: It is enough to let fresh or frozen spinach wilt in hot soup in order “to cook” it. Also stir in fresh parsley and remaining garlic.
  • Serve hot: Garnished with Parmesan cheese and a side of baby kale salad or crustless spinach quiche for a full meal.

Optional Add-In’s and Variations

  • Tomatoes: Swap diced tomatoes for tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes.
  • Greens: Chopped kale or chard would wilt well in this soup, too. I use kale in Zuppa toscana.
  • Vegan lentil soup: Skip the parmesan, same goes for a vegetarian lentil soup.
  • Oil free green lentil soup: Saute veggies in water or small amount of broth.
  • A pinch of heat: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes with your cumin and oregano.
  • Smoky: Add smoked paprika with your spices.
  • Italian seasoning: In place of oregano or in addition for this traditional lentil soup recipe.
  • Thyme: Is commonly used when making your mirepoix.
  • Fresh herbs: Cilantro is a favorite I often use when I am out of parsley.
  • Heartier: Diced potatoes (like I use in slow cooker lentil soup), sweet potatoes or even cooked brown rice could be added.
  • Additional vegetables: Frozen corn or peas can be added with the spinach.
  • Broth: Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth or homemade stock.
  • Meat protein: Cooked italian sausage, leftover shredded chicken etc. could be added at the end of sauteing.
  • Finisher: A squeeze of lemon always brightens any soup flavors!

Tips for Best Results

  • Use dried lentils: Not canned for the best flavor and texture.
  • Green or brown lentils work best: Black lentils and French lentils will not soften in time and red lentils will soften too much.
  • Thick and creamy: Use an immersion blender to blend a small amount for a thick and creamy soup! 
  • Parmesan rind: If you aren’t worried about keeping the soup vegan/vegetarian, add a parmesan rind in with the broth. It will add so much flavor!
  • Don’t skip the finishers: Fresh garlic and parsley add so much flavor! 

FAQs

Are lentils same as beans?

Lentils are legumes just like beans but are relatively quick and easy to prepare. That’s why you rarely see canned lentils in stores.

Do I need to soak lentils?

No, just like you don’t have to soak split peas, just FYI. It is a good idea to rinse lentils and then they should take about 30 minutes to cook. Other than that lentils do not require soaking like beans which makes them convenient for quick night vegetarian meals like green lentil curry. Or learn how to make Instant Pot lentil soup for completely hands off meal.

Why is my lentil soup runny?

You may have added too much broth or water. For a thicker consistency, puree a small amount of soup in blender or with immersion blender like I do in chicken wild rice soup.

Can I omit cumin in lentil soup?

Yes, I would try adding in some additional Italian seasoning or smoked paprika with a pinch of red pepper flakes then.

Can I use chicken broth vs. vegetable broth?

Yes, feel free to use the stock you have on hand for this lentil and spinach soup.

What to Serve With Traditional Lentil Soup Recipe?

A piece of crusty ciabatta bread or low carb almond flour bread are my two favorites, but because I have hungry growing boys I often include these healthy sides:

A simple charcuterie platter with meat, cheese, grapes and crackers makes a great ‘centerpiece’ for a light lentil soup dinner as well!

How to Store Leftovers?

Storing soup leftovers: Lentil soup will stay fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge. Reheat desired amount by simmering on low in a small pot.

Freezing soup leftovers: Lentil soup freezes beautifully. I usually transfer leftovers to a large glass container leaving some room for soup to expand, and freeze for up to 3 months.

Thawing lentil soup: To thaw, just remove frozen soup from the freezer the night before and defrost in the fridge overnight. Chances are it still will be somewhat frozen after 24 hours, so I put it on a counter for a few hours. And if I remove soup from the freezer in the morning and would like to reheat for lunch, I just thaw it on the counter. It won’t spoil.

More Favorite Bean and Legume Recipes

Lentil Spinach Soup

Lentil Spinach Soup

This hearty Lentil and Spinach Soup is rich in vegetables and a good source of protein and fiber. A meatless dish full of flavorful ingredients for a balanced meal!
4.93 from 26 votes
Print Save Rate
Course: Soup and Stew
Cuisine: Italian
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 40 minutes
Total Time: 50 minutes
Servings: 8 servings
Calories: 269kcal
Author: Olena Osipov

Ingredients

  • 2 1/2 cups green lentils rinsed & drained
  • 5 garlic cloves minced & divided
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • 3 large carrots chopped
  • 2 large celery stalks chopped
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil
  • 28 oz can diced tomatoes low sodium
  • 12 cups vegetable broth low sodium
  • 2 tsp cumin ground
  • 2 tsp oregano dried
  • 1 tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 3 handfuls of spinach
  • 1/2 cup parsley finely chopped
  • Parmesan cheese grated (for garnish)

Instructions

  • Preheat large heavy bottom pot or Dutch oven on medium heat and swirl oil to coat. Add half the garlic and all onion; sauté for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add carrots and celery; sauté for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Add cumin, oregano and lentils; sauté for another 3 minutes.
  • Add diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes.
  • Add spinach, remaining garlic, parsley and stir. Serve hot garnished with Parmesan cheese.

  Store: Refrigerate in airtight container up to 5 days.

    Freeze: Fully cook, cool completely and freeze in an airtight container for up to 3 months. Thaw on a stovetop covered on low.

      Notes

      • Use dried lentils: Not canned for the best flavor and texture.
      • Green or brown lentils work best: Black lentils and French lentils will not soften in time and red lentils will soften too much.
      • Thick and creamy: Use an immersion blender to blend a small amount for a thick and creamy soup! 
      • Parmesan rind: If you aren’t worried about keeping the soup vegan/vegetarian, add a parmesan rind in with the broth. It will add so much flavor!
      See recipe post for more tips and FAQs.

      Nutrition

      Serving: 1.5cups | Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 45g | Protein: 16g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 341mg | Fiber: 20g | Sugar: 5g

      Recipes and images are a copyright of ifoodreal.com. It is against the law to republish recipes without permission. Nutritional info is approximate.