Lentil and Spinach Soup from My Italian Neighbour
Lentil and spinach soup recipe with green lentils, diced tomatoes and lots of Parmesan cheese I got from my Italian neighbour back in 2014 and improved upon with a few spices in 2018.
This vegetarian healthy soup is cheap, easy and fast weeknight dinner or all weekend lunch + dinner (make once, eat five times – I am good at that).
Are Lentils Good for You?
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. 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.
Lentils are also low in calories and dare me to say help with weight loss. 1 cup contains 230 calories but leaves you full and satisfied for long.
What If I Don’t Like Lentils?
If you are not a huge-huge fan of lentils like me, I mean I like but don’t love lentils to death, I recommend a hefty dose of freshly grated Parmesan cheese melted right in your bowl of hot soup. And freshly toasted white pita. Makes ANY lentils taste like chicken. I promise, fixes everything!
OK, let’s go over the ingredients and make you fall in love with lentils. JK, at least like them like I do because they are so darn cheap and nutritious!
Lentil and Spinach Soup Ingredients
- Green lentils
- Low sodium diced tomatoes
- Low sodium vegetable broth
FAQ About Lentils
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 you can try Instant Pot lentil soup or slow cooker vegetarian lentil soup for completely hands off meal.
Can I Use Brown Lentils?
Yes. Both brown and green lentils retain their shape well, so consistency of the soup won’t change.
Can I Use Red Lentils?
Yes, you can but red lentils are split and tend to almost disintegrate in the soup.
Can I Use Frozen Spinach?
OMG, I have to share with you the trick that daunted on me one Costco shopping trip. I was scratching my head in their freezing cold fridge how can I buy more cheap organic spinach without it going bad or me making another trip to the store.
Freeze it! Because reality is that I rarely make spinach salad but rather add it to a green smoothie and this soup. And that’s it. So we buy 2-3 boxes at $3.99 and don’t buy later at $5.99. Or buy it on sale and freeze – won’t go bad. Wahoo!
How to Make Lentil Spinach Soup
1. Sauté the Onion, Celery and Carrot
- Start by sauteing onion and garlic. Preheat Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat and swirl 1 tbsp of oil to coat. Add half the garlic and all onion and cook for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. This step will allow the onion to develop flavour and garlic not burn along with onion.
- Then add carrots and celery and cook for a few more minutes, stirring occasionally but allowing vegetables to brown a bit.
- Add oregano and cumin once vegetables are almost done and cook for 30 seconds. This will allow spices become more fragrant rather than throwing them in with liquids and dry ingredients.
2. Pre-cook Lentils
Add lentils and sauté for another 3 minutes, stirring here and there.
3. Add Liquids and Let Soup Cook
Add diced tomatoes, vegetable broth, salt, pepper and bay leaves. Cover, bring to a boil and cook for 30 minutes or until lentils are tender.
4. Add Spinach and Garnishes
Add spinach, remaining garlic, parsley and stir. Serve hot garnished with Parmesan cheese.
Can I Freeze Leftovers?
Yes, this 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.
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 Tasty Lentil Soup Recipes
- Chicken and lentil soup – loaded (!!!) with veggies and Te Mex flavours (slow cooker or stovetop)
- Instant Pot lentil soup – same recipe but adapted to a pressure cooker
- Red lentil vegetable soup – so easy with 2 simple spices, and hearty!!!
- Slow cooker lentil soup – vegetarian soup that cooks while you are at work.
Lentil and Spinach Soup Recipe
Spinach Lentil Soup Recipe with green lentils, diced tomatoes and lots of Parmesan cheese I got from my Italian neighbour. And we all know how food is in Italy, right?!
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 40 minutes
- Total Time: 50 minutes
- Yield: 8 servings
- Category: Soup and Stew
- Method: Stove
- Cuisine: Italian
- 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)
- 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 an airtight container for 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.
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