You'll love how easy it is to make this hearty and cozy lentil quinoa soup! This soup is filled with warming flavors and is packed with protein and fiber from plant-based ingredients.
This lentil quinoa soup started as a copy-cat recipe for Trader Joe's lentil soup with ancient grains. I asked my boyfriend if he thought it tasted like the TJ's soup and he said "yes, but it tastes better". Bingo!
Just like the Trader Joe's soup, this soup is the definition of hearty. It's filled with fiber and plant-based protein, made with warming spices, and is the perfect vehicle for toppings like cheddar drop biscuits or crackers.
- Dietary features: vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, dairy-free
- Made with inexpensive pantry staples
- Can be frozen for a grab-and-go lunch
- 16 grams protein per serving
- Great for meal prep because it tastes even better the next day
I am so happy with how this lentil and quinoa soup recipe turned out. Good bye weekly (umm, I mean monthly) store bought soup, I found my new go to recipe!
Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients in the quinoa soup. Most of these are pantry staples or spices.
- Lentils: Choose dry brown lentils. Green lentils work but will take up to 45 minutes to cook. Red lentils will not work in this recipe (they are better for things like curries, pasta sauce and even plant-based burgers).
- Quinoa adds depth and plant-based protein to the soup. I usually use white quinoa but any kind will work.
- Mirepoix: This is just the carrots, yellow onions and celery sautéed in olive oil. White onion also works.
- The spices: There are a lot of spices in this recipe. Cumin, marjoram, nutmeg, paprika, onion powder, parsley, cayenne and bay leaf. It's what gives the soup such a warm profile. Oregano can be used in place of marjoram if needed.
- Parsley: I opt for fresh parsley because it works well as a garnish. You can use one teaspoon dry parsley in place of fresh as needed.
- Vegetable broth: Choose a flavorful vegetable broth. Usually the more expensive broths have more depth than the cheapest store brands. I usually choose low sodium for better control over the salt content of my soups.
How to make
This recipe is made like any traditional soup recipe. It takes almost an hour to make because brown lentils take up to 30 minutes to cook, but most of the cooking time is inactive.
Maybe the inactive time is spent making biscuits to serve with the soup?
- Heat a 6 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, add the diced onion, carrot and celery. Sprinkle with salt.
- Sauté the veggies until softened. Sprinkle in the tomato paste and minced garlic. Sauté another 1-2 minutes. Cooking tomato paste allows the flavor to deepen, which adds extra depth to the lentil soup.
- Add the spices. Bloom for 30 seconds, stirring to prevent burning. Blooming spices enhances their flavor- don't skip this step!
- Deglaze the pan with a drizzle of vegetable broth. Add the diced tomatoes, quinoa, lentils, remaining broth, and fresh parsley. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cover. Simmer until the lentils are tender and fully cooked through.
Remove the bay leaves and add a squeeze of lemon juice before serving.
- The lentils and quinoa soak up a lot of liquid while cooking. For a thinner soup, add an extra ½ cup to 1 cup vegetable broth or water at the end of cooking.
- To make this a true "ancient grains" soup a la Trader Joes, add in millet and amaranth. I don't add these because they aren't as easily accessible as lentils and quinoa, so they make this soup a little less inexpensive.
- Salt: The Trader Joe's soup has a fair amount of salt, more than my version has. Adjust to taste!
- Toppings: Fresh chopped parsley, a wedge of lemon and freshly shredded Parmesan (or vegan parm) are all must-adds. I usually add crackers or cheddar biscuits too. Sour cream or cashew cream are all great additions.
- Extra veggies: You can make lentil quinoa soup extra fiber-rich by sautéing diced zucchini, mushrooms, etc. alongside the mirepoix.
Let the soup cool to room temp before transferring to the fridge. Refrigerate for 4-5 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave or return the entire soup pot to the stove. Reheat on the stove over medium-low, stirring occasionally. You will likely need to add an extra splash of broth or water when reheating.
There are many benefits to making homemade soup instead of buying premade soup. When you make homemade soup, you control the amount of sodium (salt) you're consuming. Premade soups are usually very high in sodium (for preservation and flavor), usually over 600 mg sodium per one-cup serving. That's more than one-quarter of the daily recommended intake!
It's easy to cut down on added salt by experimenting with seasonings and vinegar, which is exactly what I did with this lentil and quinoa soup recipe. The combination of quinoa, lentils, and a variety of warming spices makes a delicious and filling meal without excess salt.
Yes, lentil soup freezes very well. Let the soup cool to room temperature before transferring to individual or large freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, let thaw overnight in the fridge or defrost in the microwave.
I haven't made lentil quinoa soup in the Instant Pot, but I do have a recipe for Instant Pot Lentil Soup which is very similar. Although I can't say for sure because I haven't tested it myself, you should be able to cook this soup in the Instant Pot in just 10 minutes on high pressure. Allow the pressure to release naturally.
I haven't tested out this lentil soup in the slow cooker but I will update the recipe if I do. My guess is that it would work really well! I would love to hear if you try it out.
Looking for more recipes?
Did you try this recipe? You can leave a star rating ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ in the recipe card or a review down in the comments section. I always appreciate your feedback! You can also follow along on my YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Pinterest or sign up for my newsletter!
Hearty Lentil Quinoa Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- ½ medium yellow onion diced
- 2 large carrots peeled and diced
- 2 stalks celery diced
- ½ teaspoon salt more to taste
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 3-4 cloves garlic minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon marjoram
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon onion powder
- ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon cayenne pepper optional; makes it lightly spicy
- 6 and ½ cups vegetable broth see note #1
- 1 and ½ cups brown lentils rinsed
- ½ cup quinoa rinsed
- 2 15 ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
- 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley plus more for serving
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice plus extra lemon wedges for serving
- Parmesan for serving
- Heat a 6 quart Dutch oven or stock pot over medium-high heat. Once hot, drizzle in the oil. To the hot oil, add the diced onion, carrot and celery. Sprinkle with salt. Sauté the veggies until softened, about 6-8 minutes.
- Add the tomato paste and minced garlic. Sauté another 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is golden and aromatic.
- Add the spices (cumin, marjoram, paprika, onion powder, nutmeg, black pepper, optional cayenne). Bloom for 30 seconds, stirring to prevent burning.
- Deglaze the pan with a drizzle of vegetable broth. Add the diced tomatoes, lentils, quinoa, remaining broth, fresh parsley, and bay leaves. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Once boiling, reduce to a simmer over medium-low heat and cover.
- Simmer until the lentils are tender and fully cooked through. This will take about 20 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Stir in 2 tablespoons lemon juice just before serving.
- Taste for salt and pepper. Serve topped with fresh Parmesan, a lemon wedge and fresh chopped parsley. Enjoy!
- Brown lentils cook in 18-20 minutes. Green lentils work but take upwards of 45 minutes to cook. Red/orange lentils do not work here.
- Vegetable broth: You can use 4 cups veg broth and 2 and ½ cups water to cut back on salt. I usually use low sodium veg broth.
- Leftovers and reheating: Let the soup cool to room temp before transferring to the fridge. Refrigerate for 4-5 days. Reheat individual servings in the microwave or return the entire soup pot to the stove. Reheat on the stove over medium-low, stirring occasionally. You will likely need to add an extra splash of broth or water when reheating.
- Freezing instructions: Let the soup cool to room temperature before transferring to individual or large freezer safe containers. Freeze for up to 3 months. When ready to use, let thaw overnight in the fridge or defrost in the microwave.
Author's note: This recipe was originally shared July 2018. It was updated OCtober 2018 with new photos, a video, and more recipe tips. The base recipe remains mostly the same with small adjustments made for quality.