This vegan lentil soup recipe is sweet and spicy and is enhanced with the smoky flavor of charred peppers and tomatoes. We think this is the best lentil soup with no meat recipe out there!
I’m a huge fan of lentils though I find myself gravitating toward French green or black lentils because I like how they hold their shape. This vegan lentil soup recipe uses brown lentils. They break down more than green or black lentils, though not as much as red lentils. The result is an easy recipe with tender, soft lentils in a thick, hearty soup that is loaded with flavor.
How to make this vegan lentil soup recipe:
This recipe requires a bit more work than standard lentil soup recipes because of the additional step of vegetable charring. However, I recommend not skipping that step. The charring lends wonderful smoky, spicy undertones to this soup that you are going to love.
First, char the vegetables. Arrange sweet red peppers, a jalapeño, and a few tomatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with oil. Cut the top of a head of garlic off and place it on aluminum foil and drizzle it with oil before wrapping it up in the foil. Transfer it to the oven for 30 minutes until charred and browned.
While the vegetables char, start the soup. First, sauté leeks (or use yellow onion) and then add carrots and cook until soft.
Next, add spices. I use silk chili, thyme, cayenne powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika. If you don’t have silk chili, replace with chili powder.
From there simply add the lentils, water or stock and a liberal sprinkle of salt and pepper. Bring to a boil and then reduce heat and simmer for 30–45 minutes.
Once the veggies have finished roasting, transfer them to a food processor. Pop the garlic out of the paper and add it to the food processor and blend until smooth. To finish the lentil soup, simply pour in the blended vegetables along with maple syrup and continue simmering until the lentils are tender. That’s it!
Vegan Lentil Soup Recipe
- Large pot
- Baking sheet
- Food processor
- 3 small sweet red peppers, such as Carmen or red bell pepper stems and seeds removed
- 1 jalapeño, stem removed
- 1 pound fresh tomatoes*
- 1 head of garlic, top cut off
- 2 tablespoons neutral oil divided
- 2 leeks, or 1 yellow onion thinly sliced
- 4 carrots, peeled and small-diced
- 1 tablespoon silk chili flakes or use chili powder
- 2 teaspoons cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon dry thyme
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
- ½ teaspoon cayenne powder
- 16 ounces brown lentils, rinsed and picked over
- 8 cups water or broth
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or brown sugar
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Microgreens or minced parsley
Char the vegetables:
- Preheat oven to 425ºF.
- Arrange the peppers and tomatoes on a baking sheet. Place the garlic on a small piece of foil. Drizzle everything with 1 tablespoon neutral oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Wrap the garlic in the foil. Transfer to the oven for 30 minutes or until the peppers are well-charred.
- Turn off the heat. Remove from the oven and carefully unwrap the garlic. Set aside until the garlic is cool enough to handle.
Start the lentil soup:
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the leeks and cook for 6–7 minutes. Add the carrots and cook until 6–7 minutes until they just begin to soften.
Bloom the spices:
- Add the chili powder, cumin, thyme, smoked paprika, sweet paprika, cayenne, and salt and pepper to the pot and stir to coat. Cook for 1 minute.
Simmer the lentils:
- Add the lentils to the pot and cook 2 minutes. Pour in the water and bring to a boil. Season liberally with salt and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer for 30–45 minutes until the lentils are tender. Taste and season with salt and pepper.
Puree the charred vegetables:
- Transfer the peppers and tomatoes to a food processor. Carefully pop the garlic out of the paper and into the food processor. Pulse until pureed.
- Pour the mixture into the lentils along with the maple syrup and continue simmering until the lentils are tender. Taste and season once more.
- Divide the lentil soup between bowls and garnish with microgreens or minced parsley. Enjoy!