Spiced Lentil Soup

A robustly spiced lentil soup. The recipe makes a fair amount, so cut it in half if you have a small household. (Or plan for leftovers for lunch the next day.) Adapted from a recipe I clipped from the Toronto Star in 1994, which was itself based on a recipe from the Toronto Vegetarian Association.

Spiced Lentil Soup

Featuring warm spices like cinnamon and ginger, this soup will heat you up on the coldest of days.
Prep Time20 minutes
Cook Time1 hour 30 minutes
Total Time1 hour 50 minutes
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Vegan, Vegetarian
Keyword: Lentils, Sides, Soup
Servings: 8 cups


Spice Mix

  • 1 tbsp water
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp each of ground ginger, ground cardamom, and turmeric
  • 1/4 tsp each of ground coriander and ground cinnamon
  • pinch cayenne, or more, to taste Optional


  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 3 carrots, diced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced, or 2 tsp (10 mL) jarred minced garlic
  • 5 1/2 cups water
  • 1 cup dry brown lentils, rinsed and picked over to check for stones
  • 2 tbsp  tamari or regular soy sauce, preferably low sodium
  • 1/4 tsp salt, or more, to taste
  • 1/3 cup tomato paste
  • 1 1/2 - 2 cups vegetable stock, preferably low sodium, if needed See Notes.


  • Combine all the spice mix ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
  • Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add carrots, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 2-3 minutes. Reduce heat if the garlic starts to brown.
  • Stir in about a half-cup (118 mL) of water and the spice mix. Reduce heat to low and simmer for about 3-4 minutes.
  • Stir in salt, tamari, remaining water, and lentils. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat, cover, and simmer for about 45 minutes to 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Lentils should be soft but not mushy. Cook longer if needed. If soup is too thin near the end of cooking time, remove the lid and turn up the heat to gently boil off some of the liquid. See Notes.
  • Stir in tomato paste and, if needed, add enough vegetable stock to get to the consistency you like. Taste and add a pinch more salt, if necessary.
  • Serve alongside crusty bread and a salad of bitter greens or a basic garden salad, if you prefer.


  • Depending on the type of lentils you use, you may not need to add vegetable stock at the end. I've done this soup with standard brown or green lentils and needed the stock, yet when I use puy lentils, I find I don't need the stock. 
  • Soup consistency is a personal preference. Leaving the lid on while simmering ensures the lentils cook well but doesn't reduce the liquid as much as some people like. Removing the lid towards the end of cooking time and increasing the heat a bit to create a gentle boil will help thicken the soup.  

Image of cinnamon by Mariia Sultanova | Dreamstime

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