This low-carb detox lentil soup with split chickpea lentils, spinach and turmeric is flavored with delicious spices and packed with a lot of goodness. You don’t have to put up with bland lentil soup that tastes like baby food anymore! Learn how to make lentil soup with any kind of split lentils/dal. (Instructions below)
About the recipe
Curried lentil spinach soup that is creamy and healthy with nutritious vegetables and antioxidant turmeric! This is a delicious dream-come-true, especially for a weekday dinner. Vegan, gluten-free, low fat and low carb, this is the best lentil soup for weight loss. Truly a delicious COMFORT FOOD that is ALSO HEALTHY.
Why lentil soup is good for you
Lentils are an excellent plant-based source of protein, especially for vegetarians and vegans. This spicy lentil vegetable soup is a wholesome dish in itself. You can add in any of your favorite vegetables which surprisingly adapt to the flavor of the soup and the lentils. You can also make this low-calorie lentil soup with greens– spinach, mustard greens, beet greens or Swiss chard. That’s the beauty of lentils, they don’t overpower the dish but yet have a flavor that influences other ingredients in the dish quite in a delicate way.
Lentils are quite versatile and are a healthy alternative to refined flour when used in soups, curries and stews to add volume and nutrients or in chutneys and dips as taste enhancers. Lentils can also be used in salads like summer lentil salad.
With about 200 calories and lot of fibre and nutrients, this lentil soup is one of the best plant-based recipes for weight loss.
What lentils are good for soup?
Yellow, red, green, brown and black lentils are some of the generic ones. Split lentils or dal are easier to cook and turn out creamier than whole lentils like brown or green lentils. There are so many varieties of lentils that it might be confusing for a person new to lentils. Yellow split lentil is of 3 types: split chickpea or chana dal that I have used here, split pigeon pea, or the split mung bean. You can use different lentils for this lentil soup recipe, you just have to tweak the cooking time.
Red lentil (masoor dal) soup
Red lentils are most suited for soups and stews. You can cook red lentils in about 10 minutes and so the red lentil soup is the easiest and quickest soup with lentils. Follow this same recipe but reduce the simmering time to 10 minutes.
The yellow mung lentil takes about the same time to cook as the red lentils, split chickpea lentil takes about 30 minutes of simmering while the pigeon pea lentil (toor dal) takes 40 minutes. There is a slight difference in flavor, too. The chickpea lentil has a nuttier flavor, the mung lentil is creamier while the pigeon pea lentil is somewhere in between. Use any of these lentils for soup depending on the texture and flavor you need. I like to have a bit of texture in my soup and also make a quick soup 🙂 So I’ve used split chickpea (chana dal).
Do lentils need to be soaked?
The advantage of dried split lentils is that they don’t need to be soaked like whole lentils and beans and cook faster. Although soaking them for 20 minutes and rinsing as mentioned in the recipe enhances the taste of the soup. It also helps in the better digestion of lentils if you are not used to lentils.
This lentil soup can be cooked in a pressure cooker in less than half the time required for cooking in a soup pot, but slow cooking really brings out the flavors of not only the lentils but also each of the other ingredients. That being said, if you are in a hurry, it doesn’t hurt to cook this lentil soup in a pressure cooker or instant pot.
Spices for lentil soup recipe
- coriander powder and cumin powder– the 2 flavors that go well with lentils.
- turmeric powder– for its antioxidant properties and bright yellow color.
- pepper– for a bit of heat and to enhance the health benefits of turmeric.
How to make spicy lentil vegetable soup
(You can find the exact measurements and instructions in the recipe card at the end of this page.)
Rinse and soak the lentils in cold water for 15 to 20 minutes. Meanwhile, chop the vegetables. The soaking step can be skipped, in which case the cooking time should be increased by 10 minutes and the quantity of water increased by half a cup.
Saute the onions and garlic in the oil in a soup pot for 3 minutes and then tomato puree for 2 minutes on medium heat. Do not let them brown. Drain the lentils and add them along with the vegetables, except spinach. Add the spices, salt and 3 cups of water. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer for 30 minutes. Add spinach and simmer for another 15 minutes or until the lentils become soft. If you want the lentils very soft and mushy, cook for another 10 minutes. Garnish with cilantro.
How to make lentil soup in the pressure cooker or instant pot (quick recipe)
A pressure cooker or instant pot can also be used for cooking the lentil soup in which case it takes only 20 minutes in total to cook the soup, though you might compromise a little bit on the taste. Use 2 cups of water instead of 3. Saute onion and garlic,and tomato puree. Add lentils and all vegetables except spinach in the cooker. Add the spices, close, and cook on high heat. Cook on high pressure for 5 minutes (for 5 whistles in the pressure cooker). Wait for the pressure to release naturally. Add chopped spinach and close tight with the lid for 5 minutes. The residual heat will cook the spinach. Transfer the soup into bowls and garnish with cilantro before serving.
What to serve with detox lentil soup
- To accompany this lentil vegetable soup, you can have some garlic toast for dunking if you’re not worried about gluten or dairy.
- It also tastes great with vegetarian sides like tandoori cauliflower or
- a protein like hariyali chicken or tandoori chicken.
- I also pair it with seafood sometimes, like salmon kabobs or fish cakes.
Do lentils cause bloating?
Lentils are high in fibre which is good for you, but difficult to digest. So if you are introducing lentils in your diet for the first time, it is better to soak them before cooking. Rinse the lentils and soak in a lot of water for about 30 minutes. Rinse the soaked lentils at least thrice before using. Cook until the lentils are well-mashed and creamy. Use a masher or a spoon to mash the lentils until smooth.
Following the above steps will avoid bloating and indigestion from eating lentils. Adding ginger or a few pinches of asafoetida powder (aka hing, an Indian spice used in dal recipes) also helps in the digestion of lentils.
How to cook lentils the right way?
When you cook lentil soup, you can cook the lentils until they are well cooked and mashed. (follow the instructions above). For recipes like stews and curry (lentil spinach curry) you need to cook them well but they still need to have some texture. Salads like lentil salad require the lentils to be whole and not mashed.
Should I cook lentils before adding to soup?
It is better to cook lentils with vegetables and spices so that the flavors are absorbed well. That being said, if you have to use cooked lentils or canned lentils, you can do that. But ensure that you simmer the lentils with the spices for at least 5 to 10 minutes.
How to thicken lentil soup?
If you want a thick lentil soup, just before turning off the flame, scoop out 1/2 cup of the soup and mash using a potato masher or stick blender. You can also cool it and blend using a regular blender. Add the puree back to the soup. Reheat and serve, garnished with cilantro.
How long does lentil soup last?
Lentil soup stays fresh in the refrigerator for only a couple of days. If you want to keep it beyond that, store in the freezer. This soup can be frozen for about a month.
Hope I’ve answered the questions you might have regarding this lentil soup. If you have any more questions, feel free to ask in the comments section. I’ll be glad to help.
Looking for another recipe with dal and spinach? You’ll love moong dal with spinach.
If you love chickpeas, you might want to try my mom’s chickpea soup.
Looking for more soups?
Other lentil and bean recipes you might like
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Health benefits of turmeric in lentil soup
While turmeric is a flavorsome spice that is nutritious to consume, it has also traditionally been used in Ayurvedic medicine to treat inflammatory conditions, skin diseases, wounds, digestive ailments, and liver conditions. Curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, shows promise in the treatment of cancer. Research shows that people on long-term medication like diabetes can benefit by adding turmeric to their diet since its antioxidant properties are so powerful that they may stop your liver from getting damaged.
When you add this antioxidant, anti-inflammatory turmeric to the healthy lentils, what you get is a super flavorful and nutritious vegan lentil soup recipe!