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Vegan Red Lentil Soup Three Ways

Freelance writer from the northeast coast of England with a fondness for vegan food and punk rock.

Red lentils: what's not to love?

Red lentils: what's not to love?

Red Lentils Are Great in Soup

Red lentils make great soup. They cook in 20 minutes with no pre-soaking, are packed with minerals and high in fibre, and taste great. They are also extremely versatile.

I always have a plentiful supply of red lentils in my store cupboard, so when I fancy soup I usually have the required vegetables to make a panful. I have several recipes off by heart, each completely different.

Recipes in This Article

  1. Hearty red lentil soup - a staple of my childhood
  2. Tomato and lentil soup with vegan cheese - with wonderful oregano
  3. Spicy red lentil soup with lemon - featuring coriander, cumin and chilli
Hearty red lentil soup

Hearty red lentil soup

Recipe 1: Hearty Red Lentil Soup

After I left school, I took a job as a roofer. It was hard physical toil, and when I got home I was usually ravenously hungry. At that time, few things were more welcoming, particularly during winter months, than walking into a warm kitchen where the pressure cooker hissed alarmingly and the pungent smell of lentil soup hung in the air. My delight was twofold if there were dumplings involved.

This soup was a mainstay of hungry workers in my town; the coal miners and shipbuilders. It was so prevalent I sampled versions of it at the homes of friends and family. Going by my experience I’d say a key part of the preparation process was not to chop the vegetables too small. Scooping up soup and seeing a huge chunk of steaming potato in your spoon was like pulling a prize from a lucky dip.

I’m sure that in my grandmother’s day all of the ingredients would have been put into the pan with the stock (and probably a few bones) without any of this fancy sauteing lark, but I’ve kept this in line with my other recipes.


  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 1 leek, trimmed, washed and chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced
  • 2 large potatoes, cubed
  • ½ swede, cubed
  • 1 cup of red lentils
  • 4 cups of vegetable stock


  1. Saute the leek in the oil over low heat. When it has softened, add the carrot, potato and swede.
  2. Add the lentils and stir well.
  3. Pour enough stock to cover, and bring the liquid to a boil for 2 minutes.
  4. Lower the heat and simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally and checking to see if more stock is needed.
  5. Serve piping hot

Tip: If you can't lay your hands on a leek, a large onion will do the job.

Tomato and lentil soup with vegan cheese

Tomato and lentil soup with vegan cheese

Recipe 2: Tomato and Lentil Soup With Vegan Cheese


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (or more)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large carrot, grated
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 1 teaspoon yeast extract
  • 1 carton passata (or 2 tablespoons tomato paste watered down)
  • cayenne pepper, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and pepper
  • Your favourite vegan cheese, grated


  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and saute the onion until soft. Add the carrot and saute 1 minute more.
  2. Add the lentils and cayenne, and stir to incorporate.
  3. Cover with the water, bring to a boil and dissolve the stock cube and the yeast extract in the liquid.
  4. Add the tomato puree and simmer for 20 minutes, or until the lentils are soft, adding more water if necessary.
  5. When the soup is piping hot, ladle into a bowl and stir in the grated cheese just before serving.
Yeast extract

Yeast extract

What Is Yeast Extract?

Yeast extract is a dark brown, sticky foodstuff that adds a savoury flavour to dishes. It is derived from fresh yeast via a process of fermentation and then the extraction of outer cell walls via a centrifuge. Many generations have grown up enjoying yeast extract in soups, stews and gravies, or on toast. Yeast extract is a source of vitamin B12, which makes it popular among vegans, although it does have a high level of sodium. Here in the UK, Marmite is a well-established brand, while many an Aussie got their yeast extract goodness from Vegemite.

It is curious that in 1996, Marmite ran a series of candid ads which acknowledged that some people really don't like their product, The slogan for this campaign was you either love it or hate it.

In this ad, from 2001, the young couple seem to be hitting it off on their first date. While making the coffee though, the girl takes a bite of a Marmite topped snack. When they kiss, the boy tastes Marmite and is nearly sick. it was certainly an unusual way to promote a product, but it worked.

Spicy red lentil soup with lemon served with wholemeal wraps

Spicy red lentil soup with lemon served with wholemeal wraps

Recipe 3: Spicy Red Lentil Soup With Lemon


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic (or more)
  • 1 large carrot chopped
  • 2 sticks celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large potato, unpeeled and cubed
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 vegetable stock cube
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • salt and pepper


  1. Put the oil in a big enough saucepan and saute the onion, celery and carrot until soft.
  2. Add the potatoes, minced garlic, coriander, cumin and chilli powder. Keep everything on the move to stop the potatoes from sticking to the pan.
  3. Pour in the water and add the lentils. Bring the liquid to a boil.
  4. Add the stock cube and stir.
  5. Turn the heat down to a simmer, cover the pan but check the soup occasionally to see if more water is needed, and stir it to prevent sticking.
  6. After about 25–30 minutes, the soup should be cooked. Stir in the lemon juice.
  7. Adjust seasoning and serve piping hot.

Lentil Soup Prep Playlist

I bought the Vibrators' second album V2 as soon as it came out. I hurried home with it so I could listen on my brother's impressive JVC hi-fi in his bedroom before he got home from work (I only had a Dansette affair in my bedroom). I was knocked for six, from this, the opening track, to the end of Troops of Tomorrow, which rounded the album off.