March 30, 2011

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lemon

Is it just me, or is it as hard to properly eat this time of year as it is to get dressed? One day we’re bundling up in our down coats and craving spaghetti and meatballs, and the next day the scent of hyacinths is in the air and we’re craving big, fresh salads. It’s a shape-shifting season. You got to be ready to roll with it (as much as you just really, really want to wear your new sandals).

That’s why I like this soup, which features one of my favorite ingredients in the world: lentils. The red variety falls apart and becomes velvety soft, but the whole affair is brightened with spring greens and puckery lemon. I like to think of it as a marriage of opposites for this strange period of season-straddling: hearty warmth meets vibrancy and light.

Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lemon
adapted from Fresh Food Fast
Serves 4

1 1/2 cups red red lentils
1 cup canned chopped tomatoes, with their juice
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 teaspoons grated ginger
1 bay leaf
5 ounces baby spinach
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

In a large saucepan or soup pot over moderately high heat, saute garlic and ginger until aromatic, just a minute or two. Add lentils, bay leaf, tomatoes, and 4-5 cups water. Raise heat and bring to a boil; then reduce to a simmer and let cook until lentils are velvety soft and falling apart, about 15 minutes. Add spinach, and cook until wilted. Season with salt and pepper, and stir in lemon juice. Serve over hot, cooked whole grains or with bread. A dollop of Greek yogurt on top would be lovely.

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  • domestikate: Ooh this sounds just the thing. Love both lentils and spinach!4 years ago

  • Kristina Strain: YES, you are absolutely right about this time of year. I think we’ve talked about it before, in fact. You’re SO OVER butternut squash and roasted root vegetables, but it still feels like a gray eternity until the tasty green leaves of spring. My go-to dishes for spring often involve eggs, and fresh herbs. Mustard-roasted potatoes with chive pesto and poached eggs was a recent hit. Come to think of it, I should blog that!4 years ago

  • Suzette: hey, lady. how many servings do you think this makes? wanna try it tonight!4 years ago

  • Annie: That sounds delicious! And perfect for a day like today. I think I have some lentils at home, I might have to make it for a late lunch! Thanks for the inspiration!
    I love this blog!4 years ago

  • Chez Loulou: It is definitely that time of year! I’ve also been trying to make and enjoy all my favorite winter dishes before the heat hits and we can’t do any cooking other than mixing salads and eating sorbet.
    This soup looks great!4 years ago

  • Jen: I knew I recognized this soup! My roommates and I are totally devoted to this cookbook. It is, without reservation, the best most used cookbook we own.4 years ago

  • Oh my goodness, Kristina, I want to eat at your house tonight!

    Suzette, Doh! Makes 4 servings. Just updated the info on the recipe.

    Chez Loulou, I know what you mean about that panic of getting to enjoy the last of the wintery stuff, too. I always have a near panic attack about saying goodbye to kale.

    Jen, I am so with you! I got it at the library a few weeks ago and had to return it, but I keep thinking about recipes from it. I want a copy of my own!4 years ago

  • Suzette: Yum. Thanks, lady!!!4 years ago

  • Katie: This looks completely delicious. I’ll have to try it!4 years ago

  • Suzette: working on it now! will let you know how it goes. so far so good. smells delicious! i think i’ll accompany it with some roasted fingerling potatoes!!! :)4 years ago

  • Suzette: The consensus is that it was the best lentil soup we have ever eaten! I added a lot of salt, though, and the greek yogurt suggestion was brilliant. Yummy! Nothing left!!!!4 years ago

  • Brie.: i so agree. i stand in front of my closet for minutes every morning hemming and hawing over clothes, the weather the forecast….similar things happen in the grocery store, though blessedly, i’m clothed by then!4 years ago

  • Charlotte: Yes, I totally get what you mean – it’s not salad season but no longer root vegetable stew season either!

    I like pasta with fresh pesto and a handful of greens chucked in at the end or summer fruit crumble with lemon creme fraiche – still warming and comforting but with a zing and a promise of brighter days!

    Blue Skies
    Charlotte xo

    blueskiesblog.blogspot.com4 years ago

  • MrsB: this is just what I needed!! why is that?!

    Just got straight up and put it on the hob! Cooking away now!

    x4 years ago

  • MrsB: my goodness…that has made me and my tummy very happy. Thankyou x4 years ago

  • Suzette, Doh. That would be because I forgot to add “season with salt and pepper.” Clearly my mind was not firmly in place while transcribing this recipe yesterday. So glad the fam loved it! You should check out the cookbook–it’s really filled with gems.4 years ago

  • Suzette: Haha!!! Will definitely take a look at the book. Am going through all of our vegetarian recipes and am going to try the other red lentil soup with caramelized onions and lemon. I mean, I have all of the ingredients lying around. :) Yum!!!!4 years ago

  • jodi: that sounds amazing!! I totally agree…it’s so hard to eat properly/get dressed with the weather changing so much. I love lentils, and with this colder weather we’re having here, I’m adding this recipe to the list. :)4 years ago

  • Danielle: I made this almost as soon as you posted it and it was amazing. I LOVE soup and it’s always hard to find a nice light soup for when the weather starts getting too warm for heavier, creamier soups that I enjoy in winter.

    Thank you for sharing!4 years ago

  • Catherine: This looked so good when I saw the photo yesterday I made it for dinner last night. And your description was perfect- it’s been dreary and damp here in Portland so I wanted warm and hearty but the lemon at the end made it bright- like the spring that is (hopefully) on its way!

    Thank you for the great recipe!4 years ago

  • Mallory: I’m eating this as we speak! I made a trip to our local bulk foods store to procure the lentils, which I’ve never eaten. I’m glad I did!

    Keep doing what you’re doing! I love your posts and I’m 3 for 3 on your recipes so far! Next up: the millet bowl. I want to try quinoa, but since millet is so much less expensive, I’m going to work my way up.4 years ago

  • Katherine: Delish!!!! This sounds perfect I have some lentils in the cupboard. I’d better get busy. Hugs and Have a great weekend!4 years ago

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We are indeed much more than what we eat, but what we eat can nevertheless help us to be much more than what we are.
- Adele Davis