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SMOKY LENTIL & QUINOA SOUP

My favorite homemade Smoky Lentil Quinoa Soup recipe is vegan, nutrient dense, filling, and 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 happen to pick up a soup from Trader Joe’s a couple 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. Not a lot of chopping either, making it an easy soup to put together quickly.

And it’s 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. Feel free to dice or slice your carrots, depending on the size. 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 tomatoes, fire roasted, 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 bay leaves. It’s a delicious combination, but if you don’t have 1 or 2 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. This 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 all together.

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/dutch oven, saute the onions, celery, carrots and garlic, saute for 5 minutes. Add the smoked paprika, cumin, thyme, basil and nutmeg, cook until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add in 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 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 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 will keep for 5 – 6 days in the refrigerator, stored 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.

For 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.

Print

SMOKY LENTIL & QUINOA SOUP

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

Ingredients

Scale
  • 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

Instructions

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

Notes

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.

Updated: Lentil Quinoa Soup recipe originally published January 2014. Updated October 2019 with new photos and helpful tips. No changes to the recipe – it’s still delicious as is!

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33 Comments

  1. I just whipped up a double sized batch of this and it tastes great! I am in the initial throes of experimenting with veganism and am not really that interested in cooking so any recipe that yeilds a massive pan full of tasty, healthy, freezable slop with minimal effort gets a huge thumbs up from me!

    Will try another one next weekend. Thanks Julie!

  2. Sheila Epstein says:

    Made this tonight and loved it! Perfect for a chilly night or anytime!

  3. Meredith Youngson says:

    This was delicious! I was in a chilli mood so I added black beans and liquid smoke and was very pleased with the result. Thanks for the inspiration!

    1. I love the idea of adding a dash of liquid smoke! Will have to try that for sure….maybe it will give me that deep flavor I'm looking to recreate! Thank you too :)

  4. murrayswest says:

    looks delish! I look forward to trying it. Do you soak the lentles before you prepare this soup?

    1. No need to soak your lentils. Simply rinse and pick through and throw them in the pot when called for. Enjoy! :)

  5. Jenna Penfound says:

    Made this tonight and it was great! I used my immersion blender to make it smoother. I had little mini pitas that were great dipped in. Can't wait for leftovers tomorrow :)

  6. So, I am kind of obsessed with your recipes right now! I made this for dinner and it was awesome! I used plain paprika and added a little liquid smoke and it was the bomb! I am making those little banana oat bite thingys right now! Thanks for all the recipes and ideas!

    1. I love that you added a tad of liquid smoke with the plain paprika. And those little banana oat thingys are so delicious! I hope you keep on enjoying all the reicpes! Cheers :)

  7. Janis Lorraine says:

    Tried this tonight. It was wonderful! Even though I used un-smoked paprika, the flavors were still very interesting and complex. Very comforting. I doubled the batch so we would have lots of leftovers for the week. Every recipe that I've tried of yours has been wonderful so I wasn't worried about not liking it:) Thanks so much for the culinary inspiration!

    1. Thank you so much for the feedback Janis! Nice to know this is still good with plain paprika. I'm so glad you liked it and hope you enjoy all the leftovers. It goes pretty fast around here as I can eat this whole recipe within a day and a half. I love adding in some fresh mirco greens on top too and lot's of fresh chopped parsley adds a nice bright fresh flavor to the soup. Happy New Year's to you! Cheers :)

      1. Nathanael says:

        Thanks for this delicious soup recipe! I ate 4 bowls and my kids loved it too.

  8. coconutandberries says:

    Deeelish! I'm a lentil nut, puy are my favourite too :)

  9. fittingintovegan says:

    Yum, I love a good lentil soup!

  10. The Vegan Cookie Fairy says:

    Hmm, this looks gorgeous :) I haven't had lentils in ages… what's wrong with me?! Must get some pronto.

    Btw, I love that blue (cast iron?) pot in your photo — it's my ambition to someday have many of them in my kitchen.

    1. Thank you! Do get some asap. :)

      My blue dutch oven, I love this thing and use it often! So easy to clean and no sticking! I have this blue/yellow enameled cast iron pot and one 8×8 enameled clay baking dish that I love as well. Great investments for the kitchen!

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