Luscious lentil soup

Seasonings give this soup a subtle yet complex flavour!

If I were told I could only make (and eat) one soup for the rest of my life, I’m pretty sure I’d choose this one. It’s an intoxicating blend of the exotic and the comforting and I defy anyone to have just one bowlful. Don’t be intimidated by the ingredient list – just get yourself to a nearby health food store and pick up small amounts of the seasonings. Chop and measure everything before you begin; the soup comes together in a jiffy that way. Just looking at this photo makes me smile in anticipation. I hope you love this lentil soup as much as I do.

This lentil soup has a subtle yet complex flavour, thanks to the blend of seasonings. It's a great way to introduce people to vegan cuisine!


  • 2 cups (500 mL) red lentils
  • 2 cups (500 mL) peeled, chopped sweet potato
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) peeled, chopped white potato
  • 3 tablespoons (45 mL) vegetable oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) brown or black mustard seeds
  • 1 cup (250 mL) chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) minced gingerroot
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon (5 mL) garam masala
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons (6.25 mL) cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2.5 mL) black pepper
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (7.5 mL) sea salt
  • 1/2 lemon, peeled, seeded and chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups (375 mL) fresh baby spinach leaves, coarsely chopped

Garnish: additional diced tomato and lemon wedges.


  • Pick over the lentils to remove any stones and rinse thoroughly in a sieve.
  • In a large pot, add cleaned lentils and 6 cups of water. Bring to a boil then simmer until the colour of the lentils changes from orange-red to yellow.
  • In another pot, boil the sweet and white potatoes with just enough water to cover the top of the potatoes.
  • When the potatoes are soft, mash with the cooking water until they are beginning to look smooth (I like to have some tiny chunks of potato in the soup for a nice contrast of texture).
  • To fry the spice mixture, heat the oil on high in a medium-sized frying pan or pot that has a tight-fitting lid and add the mustard seeds.
  • As soon as the seeds begin to pop and become fragrant, turn the heat to low and cover until all the seeds are popped. (Note that the seeds turn gray after popping but will become black again if burnt. If you accidentally burn them, chuck ‘em out and start this step over again. Trust me.)
  • Once the seeds have finished popping, add the onions and increase the heat to medium-low.
  • When the onions are beginning to soften (after about 2 minutes), add the garlic, ginger and powdered spices. Stir frequently to prevent them from sticking to the pot.
  • When the onions are translucent and the spices are deliciously fragrant, lower the heat and stir in the tomato, lemon and spinach to simmer lightly for 2 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  • Stir the spice mixture and potato mixture into the cooked lentils; stirring to blend well. Taste and adjust salt; you can also add water if the soup is thicker than you prefer.

Makes 6 to 8 servings, unless you’re me. I could eat the whole big potful.

Author: Paula Roy

Welcome to my kitchen! I love simple dishes prepared with passion and am always seeking to find new methods to make food as fun and flavourful as possible. If you enjoy this space be sure to check out my Rogers TV Ottawa cooking show, Paula Roy's Favourite Foods, available on local cable, streaming and a dedicated playlist on Rogers TV's YouTube channel.

7 thoughts

  1. Hi Paula;
    I had such a hard time finding black mustard seeds in Kanata – I went to 4 different stores – finally found brown ones at Grace in the Kitchen. Hope it still works. Making this for dinner tonight.

    1. Hi Tracey, I am sure it will be great with brown mustard seeds. And I agree, it can be hard sometimes to find specialty spices – ethnic grocery stores are often a good option (though I know of none in Kanata). There will be a great new spice store downtown next year – Cardamom and Cloves! Hope you liked the soup.

  2. Hi Paula,
    Thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe soup with us. It’s absolutly delisious and makes the house smell so good. I also didn’t find any black mustard seeds, so used white ones.
    Last week I made your Roast Butternut Squash soup (again awesome) as well, and after finishing all that off, it was time to try my hand at soup making again, and again in was a success!!!!
    I am also making the kale salad tonight to go with a chicken dinner, I know it will be terrific. I love your site and look forward to trying many more recipes. Thanks again 🙂

    1. Thanks so much for your kind comments! I am so glad you are enjoying my recipes. I do love making soup all year round but especially during the winter. I was working on a new kale salad today that I think will be a real hit – just a few ingredients and very bright and fresh tasting. I’ll be posting it soon so hope you’ll be back to visit again!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.