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Smoky Lentil & Quinoa Soup

My favorite homemade Smokey Lentil Quinoa Soup recipe is vegan, nutrient-dense, and filling. It’s also a perfect lunch, dinner, or meal prep idea! Using staple ingredients, it’s super easy to make in one pot and includes a slow cooker option, too!

top down view of a bowl with a serving of healthy smoky lentil and quinoa soup with spoon.

I happened to pick up a soup from Trader Joe’s a couple of weeks ago called ‘Lentils with Ancient Grains.’ It’s a great ready-made soup when you’re on the go. The flavor was so wonderful I could’ve eaten two containers at one time!

I decided to recreate this same soup with its deep flavors in my kitchen and I’ve finally done it! This soup is full of flavor and even better because I can make it from scratch in my own kitchen.

This soup calls for simple produce, a few spices, and other staple items that you may already have on hand. It does not require much chopping, either, making it easy to put together quickly.

It’s also great for meal prep since it tastes even better the next day! Luckily, this soup makes quite a bit, so you’ll have some leftovers to enjoy the flavors after they’ve had time to mingle.

top down view of the ingredients needed to make homemade smoky lentil and quinoa soup.

Ingredients You’ll Need

This lentil quinoa soup recipe calls for easy, everyday ingredients you may already have on hand. It’s oil-free, gluten-free, well-balanced, and can be easily customized to suit your needs.

Here’s what you’ll need along with a few tips and suggestions:

  • Lentils. Brown, green, french, or black lentils will work well in this recipe as they hold their shape well when simmering. I’ve used a combination of brown and French lentils.
  • Quinoa. Use your favorite quinoa – red, white, or tricolor. My favorite is tri-color.
  • Onion. Any onion will do – red, white, or yellow – so use what you have on hand.
  • Carrots. Dice or slice your carrots, depending on their size. You can even add an extra carrot if you like!
  • Celery. If your celery stalk has leaves, feel free to chop a few and add them to the soup.
  • Garlic. If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, use 1 teaspoon garlic powder.
  • Tomato. For ease and convenience, I use canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes, but fresh tomatoes are great too!
  • Spices & Herbs. We’ll be using a mix of smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, basil, and nutmeg, plus a couple of bay leaves. It’s a delicious combination, but if you don’t have one or two of the spices or herbs, you can still pull off a great soup; it just won’t be as complex.
  • Veggie Broth. I love using  Better Than Bouillon Veg Concentrate (affiliate link) with water. It tastes great, you only need a little (1 tsp.) and the jar lasts a long time.
  • Balsamic Vinegar. Will round out the soup, giving it a wonderful depth of flavor. If you don’t have balsamic on hand, use the juice of a small lemon or two, or omit it altogether.
top down view of a pot of freshly made vegan smoky lentil and quinoa soup.

How To Make Vegan Lentil Quinoa Soup

Rinse the lentils and quinoa. First, rinse your lentils well and pick through, removing any oddly shaped or colored lentils. Rinse quinoa using a fine mesh strainer to remove any powdery residue.

Here’s a quick run-down on the stovetop and slow-cooker methods. See the recipe card for full instructions.

  • Stovetop: In a large pot or Dutch oven, saute the onions, celery, carrots, and garlic for 5 minutes. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, basil, and nutmeg and cook until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add tomatoes, broth, lentils, quinoa, bay leaves, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat, add balsamic vinegar, and stir.
  • Slow Cooker: Add all the ingredients except the balsamic and cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours or HIGH for 3 – 4 hours.

Serving Suggestions

This hearty soup is great as is, all by itself, but can be made even heartier with a slice of bread for soaking up the juices or a quick and easy side salad. Here are a few of my favorite options:

  • Toppings: I love topping my soup with fresh chopped parsley for a dose of freshness and a pop of color.
  • Bread: Pair with a slice of homemade Artisan Bread, Vegan Naan or this Vegan Cornbread!
  • Salad: Serve with this delicious House Salad for a nice dose of freshness.

How To Store Leftovers

  • Refrigerator: Leftovers can be stored for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, in a covered container.
  • Freezer: This lentil soup is freezer-friendly and freezes well for up to 2 – 3 months. To freeze, let cool completely and store in freezer-safe containers (affiliate link), leaving 1/2 inch head space for expansion. Let thaw before reheating. You can also freeze larger portions in large ziplock bags or containers.
  • Reheat: Simply re-warm on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through. Alternatively, reheat in the microwave using 30 – 60 second intervals, stirring after each, until warm.
side angle view of a bowl with a serving of healthy smoky lentil and quinoa soup with spoon.

More Hearty Soup Recipes!

If you try this lentil quinoa soup recipe, please let me know! Leave a comment and rate it below. I love to hear what you think, or any changes you make.



5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star

5 from 8 reviews

Nutrient dense and filling, this delicious smoky lentil & quinoa soup is always a winner! Includes stovetop and slow cooker methods.

  • Author: Julie | The Simple Veganista
  • Prep Time: 15 min
  • Cook Time: 40 min
  • Total Time: 55 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 4 – 6 1x
  • Category: Entree, Soup
  • Method: Stovetop, Slow Cooker
  • Cuisine: Vegan


  • 1/4 cup water or 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 large carrots, sliced or diced
  • 2 ribs of celery, diced
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup dried lentils (french, beluga or green/brown)
  • 1/2 cup dried quinoa
  • 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted) or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
  • 23 bay leafs
  • 67 cups vegetable broth or water (or use a combo)
  • mineral salt and pepper, to taste
  • 12 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • chopped parsley for garnish, optional


Rinse: Rinse your lentils well and pick through removing any oddly shaped or colored lentils. Rinse quinoa using a fine mesh strainer to remove any powdery residue.

Saute: In a large pot/dutch oven, heat water/oil over medium heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic, saute for 5 minutes, until onions are tender. Add smoked paprika, cumin, basil, thyme and nutmeg, cook until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes.

Add remaining ingredients: Add in lentils, quinoa, tomatoes, bay leaves, broth, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 35 – 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and tasting for flavor as you go.

Add balsamic: Once done, remove from heat, add balsamic vinegar and stir. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Serve: Spoon soup into serving dishes and top with optional chopped parsley.

You may like to serve this with some fresh homemade Artisan Bread, Vegan Cornbread or Naan bread or gluten free, chickpea flour Socca flatbread.

Soup serves 4 – 6


Slow Cooker: Add all the ingredients, except the balsamic, and cook on LOW for 6 – 8 hours or HIGH for 3 – 4 hours (or check you manual for ideal cooking times of similar soups). Once soup is done, add the balsamic, taste for flavor, adding salt and pepper to taste.

Feel free to add 1 cup of quinoa instead of 1/2 cup. Just be sure to add the full 7 cups of liquids when cooking, adding more at the end if needed. You can also try using 1 1/2 cup lentils and 1/2 cup quinoa if you like.

For me, using a good vegetable broth in this soup was key to flavor. Lately I’ve been loving using vegetable broth concentrate, like Better Than Bouillon (affiliate link). I only used 1 teaspoon with 6 cups of water and it’s very flavorful. All you need is a little and the jar goes a long way.

Use 2 teaspoons of thyme if you don’t have any dried basil on hand.

If you’re a tomato lover, try using 1 can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes or 3-4 fresh tomatoes.

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  1. Aleksandra says:

    Delicious, simple, quick. Cooked lentils separately and drained them (to avoid gas), then added to everything else.

  2. I don’t have quinoa. Can I substitute pearl barley?

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Great question, Beverly! Yes, you can replace the quinoa with pearl barley. You may just need to simmer the soup an extra 5 – 10 minutes. Enjoy!

  3. I love this recipe! So tasty. Only thing I changed was to cook it in the instant pot

  4. Love this soup! I made it last night and today it’s even better. I added sweet potato and cilantro instead of parsley. So gooood! Perfect for the transition to fall. Thank you! Paired it with salad and nann.

  5. Hello, I am really wanting to make this soup but would like to know if it freezes well. Thank you so much 😃

    1. Julie | The Simple Veganista says:

      Yes, it freezes well for up to 2 months. Enjoy!

  6. This is an excellent recipe as written. Balanced and a wonderful change of pace for lentils. The French/brown lentil combo was perfect. Thank you!

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