Lentil soup… Close your eyes, what picture comes into your mind? Does it resemble those expensive canned brand names? Sorry to say, but to me those are absolutely inedible. Some watery bland lentil thing with sad looking veggies that tastes like almost nothing. Would you like to change that scene and add some color, texture, thickness and flavor… yeah, tons of flavor… to that bowl of lentils?
All you need to do is invite a few spices into your life. When I say spices, I don’t mean spicy or hot, just something to bring the flavors that these lentils crave for. I am going to make my lentil soup with colorful, warm, cozy and exotic Moroccan spices that are already in your pantry, then topping it off with some delectable toppings. It’s going to change your definition of lentil soup. I am just going to spoil you forever with this kind of cooking.
What to do? In India I grew up with an array of lentils in all shapes and colors, but they never lacked flavor. We would make any lentils good with our spices and aromatics. Our techniques of course helped. Just a few days back, in these quarantine times, my husband said he was cooking soup from a lentil based mix he found in the back of the pantry.
I was really looking forward to the meal. DUHHH… that was the most unappetizing meal he ever cooked for me. I said “well, that’s it? Just boil the lentils??” He innocently quipped “Oh, I did boil it in a chicken broth for some flavors”. Another duhhh!! He is a mighty good cook, but this boy doesn’t know how to cook lentils.
I remember the first time I cooked him Indian lentils, my yellow dal, he wasn’t too enthusiastic until he had his first bite. Well, time to teach my husband how to do justice to lentils, as they are so good when mixed with some great ingredients. I decided to go with Moroccan lentil soup, as I just posted some Indian dal a few weeks back.
I know you are going to love this soup… reasons?
- As I said before this is not a bland soup, it’s full of delicious Moroccan flavors. It’s thick, it’s creamy, it’s hearty and it’s healthy.
- The topping that we are going to add in the end are going to take this soup up one notch.
- Lentils are rich in protein, fiber and iron… so lot’s of nutrients in a single bowl. But it’s low in calories and low in fat, so win win.
- It is very very accommodating. Most of the ingredients and vegetables are your regular pantry staples.
- This soup grows on you as it gets better as it sits. It refrigerates and freezes beautifully, so make a huge pot and your weekday lunches are done. It’s a great option for meal prep.
Ingredients (simple pantry staples):
- Lentils – You can make this soup with any variety you have around. Make it with just a single type or a blend. You can even try it with a lentil soup mix like we tried this time. Just make sure the lentils are cooked through.
- Onion – Chopped. We used Spanish, but you can use any variety that’s in your kitchen.
- Diced canned tomatoes – Part of the base for the soup.
- Carrots – A veggie touch.
- Potatoes – A dash of starch.
- Spinach – You can substitute kale or other greens.
- Garlic – So popular in exotic cuisines.
- Ginger – “Me too”.
- Moroccan spices – Turmeric powder, cumin powder, coriander powder, black pepper, paprika, cinnamon… can you imagine the fragrance these will create when you add them to your pot?
- Vegetable broth – You can use chicken if you prefer.
- Cream – We are using heavy cream, but you can use half and half for a lighter option.
- Olive oil – For cooking your veggies.
You already have everything in your pantry, so get cooking!
Chop your veggies and heat up some olive oil in a heavy bottomed pot, like a Dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add chopped onion and sauté for a minute. Then in goes carrots and potatoes. Stir well, cook 2-3 minutes then add finely chopped ginger and garlic. Mix and cook 2-3 more minutes.
Now time to mix in all of your Moroccan spices. You will be greeted with such beautiful warm aromas from these spices. Rinse your lentils and mix them into your pot. Next, in goes your tomatoes. Mix and cook till your tomatoes begin to break down a little, 5-8 minutes.
Stir in your broth and two cups of water, let it come to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low and simmer, covered, till the lentils are cooked. Check every 10-15 minutes and give it a stir so it doesn’t get burned on the bottom. Depending upon the type of lentils, the time could vary but they should be done by 45 minutes to an hour.
Taste and adjust the seasoning, you might need to add salt depending on your preference.
When the lentils are done, stir in a little cream. This is going to dramatically change the consistency of your soup for the better!
Add in your spinach and cook till it wilts. Now it’s ready to dish it out in a bowl.
This soup is good just like this, but its so much BETTER with toppings
It’s quite a popular practice in Morocco to add toppings to your soup. These topping will take this soup over the top:
- Yogurt – This is the most commonly used to season or garnish this soup. Add a dollop of yogurt in the middle, this adds tang and creaminess to the soup. Ahhmm… swirl it around and dig in.
- Chopped cilantro or parsley – We like both together.
- Jalepenõs and red chili flakes – Though we used lots of spices, none were hot. These jalepenõ roundles and chili flakes add some zing.
- Lemon wedges – You might like the extra freshness and tang.
- Chermoula – While you’re cooking Moroccan, try this quick and easy condiment!
Frequently Asked Questions
Absolutely. Put the instant pot on sauté setting and follow the same steps until you have added the broth and water. At that point, seal the lid and cook on high 15 minutes. Be sure to vent the pressure release valve before opening the lid. Finish up by stirring in your cream and spinach (the soup will be plenty hot enough to wilt the spinach).
Yep. Soups are great in the crock pot! In a skillet, sauté veggies, garlic and ginger according to the original directions. Then add them, along with all other ingredients minus spinach and cream to the crock pot. Cook 3-4 hours on high or 6-8 hours on low. When you are about ready to serve, add cream and spinach.
Try adding mushrooms and peas, both of them go great. If you have some celery, that is perfect in soups. Instead of spinach, try adding other greens like collard greens or kale. Instead of potatoes, how about sweet potatoes? Lentils go great with the sweetness of sweet potatoes.
Well, you could just omit the cream, but that wouldn’t be much fun. Instead, get a can of full fat coconut milk. Allow it to settle in the fridge for at least an hour. The cream will rise to the top and can be skimmed off and added to you soup! For the yogurt topping, substitute in your favorite vegan yogurt.
Oh yes, it’s great. Try adding ground beef or some kind of sausage, like chorizo. Add the meats after the onion and fry them up brown before adding the rest of the ingredients.
Refrigerate, covered, for 4-5 days. Or you can freeze it in an airtight container up to 3 months.
Just like that my friends. It’s so easy to add flavors to ordinary mundane things. I refuse to eat those bland lentils Jason cooked me any more. How about you?
Try it… you are going to get spoiled!
PS: Are you my subscriber yet ??
Moroccan Lentil Soup, on my Gypsy Plate… enjoy!
Try some of our other tasty soup recipes!
Bahamian Boiled Fish
Vegetarian Black Bean Chili
Meaty Cabbage Soup
Greek White Bean Soup
Grilled Cheese Tomato Soup
Loaded Cauliflower Soup
- 2 cups dried lentils
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 14.5oz can diced tomatoes
- 1 potato
- 1 cup diced carrots
- 1 onion
- 4 garlic cloves
- 1 Tbsp chopped ginger
- 4 cups fresh spinach
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp coriander powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp black pepper
- Salt to taste
- 1/2 cup cream
- 3 Tbsp olive oil
- Chop veggies, ginger and garlic.
- Heat oil in large pot, such as a dutch oven, over medium high heat. Add onion, sauté one minute.
- Add carrots and potato, stir and cook 2-3 minutes.
- Add ginger and garlic, stir, cook an additional 2-3 minutes. Mix in all spice powders.
- Rinse lentils and add to pot. Stir and then mix in tomatoes. Cook 5-8 minutes.
- Stir in broth and water. Bring to low boil. Reduce heat to medium low, cover and simmer until lentils are cooked, about 45-60 minutes depending on the lentil variety. Stir and check every 15 minutes.
- Once lentils are cooked, stir in cream and spinach. Cook until spinach is wilted, 2-3 minutes. Taste and adjust salt to your liking.
Garnish with plain yogurt, lemon, parsley, cilantro, diced jalepenõ and crushed red pepper flakes.
Nutrition InformationYield 6 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 278Total Fat 15gSaturated Fat 6gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 8gCholesterol 22mgSodium 624mgCarbohydrates 30gFiber 9gSugar 6gProtein 9g
Nutrition information calculated by Nutritionix.
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