Sopa de lentejas combines fresh, simple, and inexpensive ingredients to create an absolutely mouthwatering meal.
This vegan lentil soup recipe is full of hearty vegetables like celery, carrots, onions, and garlic that will leave you with a delicious smelling kitchen and a happy belly!
We know you're going to love this meal as much as we do. It's quick, easy, made in one pot, and great for leftovers.
With the addition of a few simple spices, you can transform everyday ingredients into a comforting bowl of soup to enjoy at any time!
What is it?
Sopa de lentejas simply means lentil soup, and it's a dish that is easy to understand.
Sautéed vegetables like white onion, garlic, carrots, tomatoes, and celery are simmered with lentils, herbs, and spices.
So, what separates a lentil soup from a Mexican lentil soup? It's a pretty interesting story involving the Spanish conquest of the Aztecs.
Sopa de lentejas is enjoyed all across Mexico. You'll find different variations of this sopa (soup) in every state you visit.
But, Mexican lentil soup wouldn't be what it is today without a little influence from the Spaniards.
Many pieces of Mexican cuisine have been impacted by Spain. In fact, certain ingredients wouldn't even be available if it wasn't for Spanish migration during the conquest.
Take this recipe for example — celery, carrots, onions, and garlic (all Mexican staples) were brought over during this time period. Nowadays, you can find these veggies in countless Mexican dishes.
Is it vegan?
Typically, this soup is made with chicken stock and bacon (or sometimes other meats).
Definitely not very vegan-friendly.
But hey, that's the beauty of cooking! With a few simple tweaks, you can make a plant-based version that delivers the same great taste.
Swap out the chicken broth for vegetable broth, remove the meat, and voila! Now your sopa de lentejas is fully vegan and gluten-free!
You can even add in tofu, tempeh, jackfruit, or oyster mushrooms to give this dish a little more oomph.
We like to make a big batch to keep in the fridge and freezer for busy weeks! Check out our storage section for more info.
🍲 Key ingredients
For a complete ingredient list and step-by-step guide, scroll down to our recipe card.
Taste: with a meaty texture and earthy flavor, green lentils are the perfect companion for soup to make it hearty, filling, and healthy. There's no way you can skimp on the main ingredient in this vegan lentil soup.
Health: one of the most underappreciated superfoods out there, lentils are packed with an impressive macro and micronutrient profile. In just a half cup of cooked lentils, there are 12 grams of protein and over 30% of your daily fiber needs.
Taste: these orange vegetables (known in Spanish as zanahoria) are earthy, sweet, and healthy. They add incredible flavor and a pop of color to this traditional sopa de lentejas.
Health: you've probably heard carrots are good for your eyes, but have you ever wondered why? They contain beta-carotene (get it?), which helps the body make vitamin A. This fat-soluble vitamin helps your eyes send signals to your brain to improve your vision in low-light environments.
Taste: this vegetable has a mild, yet strong flavor all at the same time. (weird, but true, right?). With a flavor profile similar to green onions, it's used to liven up this dish and bring in subtle herbaceous notes.
Health: we love the low-calorie benefits brought to this dish from celery, all while adding bulk. The high water and fiber content both trigger your brain to feel full for longer.
Taste: with a warming, zesty, and slightly spicy flavor that sweetens as it cooks, garlic is one of our favorite ingredients. If you're a person that doesn't like the taste of garlic, we feel a little sorry for you (but, that just means more for us!).
Health: garlic has been used in medicine for thousands of years and in cooking for just as long. This food may be small, but it sure is mighty! In just one clove, there are healthy doses of manganese, vitamin B6, selenium, and even some fiber.
If you have questions about this sopa de lentejas recipe, don't forget to check out our FAQ section at the bottom of this post.
Step 1: start by heating the oil in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and sauté for a few minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for another minute or two (who else thinks this is the most intoxicating smell?).
Step 2: turn the heat down to medium-low and mix in the celery and carrots. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes, then add in the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the veggies are softened.
Step 3: mix in the cumin, paprika, and cayenne, then add the rinsed lentils, vegetable broth, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Step 4: when the lentils are soft, season your soup with salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the other seasonings to your preferences as well.
Step 5: serve your sopa de lentejas with a side of corn tortillas and garnishes like hot sauce, cilantro, limes, avocado, or cotija cheese. Happy eating!
If you're into low-maintenance meals that are great for meal prep, double or triple this batch of soup. Then, follow our storage instructions to help make your life easier!
Vegan lentil soup will keep in the fridge for up to 4-5 days. Just make sure it's in an airtight container. We find the flavors in this recipe taste even better the next day!
You can store your lentil soup in the freezer for at least 3 months in an airtight container, freezer-safe bag, or mason jar.
If you use glass jars, make sure the soup freezes before screwing on the lid. Also, make sure you leave room at the top of your container for the soup to expand, or lay it flat and remove the air if you use a bag.
Let the soup thaw in your fridge overnight. Then, reheat it over low-medium on the stove or microwave in 30-second bursts. You can also thaw this in a water bath if you're in a hurry!
💭 Pro tips
Time to share our tips and tricks we learned while perfecting this recipe for you:
- Use fresh ingredients. When using fewer ingredients, it's important to make them as fresh as possible to fully appreciate the real flavors intended in this dish.
- Add in spice. If you prefer a little heat in your Mexican lentil soup, we recommend adding in diced serrano or jalapeño peppers.
- Load up on toppings. Add avocado, tortilla strips, vegan chorizo, or any other toppings you can think of to mix things up.
- Cook while you sleep. To make life easier, bring out your slow cooker. Turn it on low before going to sleep, then wake up to a delicious scent in the air and food made for the week!
🍴 Tasting notes
Mexican lentil soup is one of our favorite ways to prepare this healthy legume. It's:
If you try this sopa de lentejas recipe, please rate it and leave us a comment below! Want to stay up-to-date with new recipes? Subscribe to our newsletter or connect with Broke Bank Vegan on social media. Happy eating!
Mexican Lentil Soup
- Large stockpot
- Chef knife
- 2 tbsp olive oil ($0.22)
- 1 medium white onion, diced ($0.18)
- 6 cloves garlic, minced ($0.24)
- 4 large carrots, diced ($0.56)
- 4-5 celery stalks, diced ($0.20)
- 6 Roma tomatoes, diced ($0.84)
- 1 tbsp cumin ($0.03)
- 1 tsp paprika ($0.01)
- 1 tsp cayenne ($0.02)
- 2 Mexican bay leaves ($0.02)
- 3 cups dry green lentils, rinsed ($0.60)
- 14 cups vegetable broth ($0.65)
- Salt & pepper to taste ($0.02)
- First, heat the oil in a large stockpot over medium. Add in the onions and sauté for 3-4 minutes, then add in the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes.
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and mix in the celery and carrots. Continue cooking for 5 minutes, then add in the tomatoes and cook for another 5 minutes, or until the veggies are softened.
- Mix in the cumin, paprika, and cayenne, then add the rinsed lentils, vegetable broth, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a low boil, then reduce the heat to simmer for 25-30 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
- To reduce the cooking time, soak your lentils overnight in room temperature water.
- If you prefer no spice, omit the cayenne. Alternatively, if you like extra spice, add more cayenne or a fresh serrano chile!
- Optional ingredients are not reflected in the price or calories of our recipes.
- We calculate nutritional information for our recipes with Cronometer.
- Recipe cost calculations are based on ingredients local to us and may vary from recipe-to-recipe.
- All prices are in USD.
♻️ Similar recipes
For more tasty Mexican soup ideas, check out our:
- Sopa de fideo for an authentic Mexican noodle soup that will take comfort food to a whole new level.
- Mexican black bean soup for an easy weeknight recipe that's light on the wallet and big on taste!
- Pozole rojo for a simple-to-make meal that's full of roasted red chiles, tender hominy, and bold flavors.
Yes, you can. While we always prefer to cook our beans and legumes from dry, you can substitute canned if that's all you have on hand. Be aware that the ratios will be different.
Absolutely! This soup is full of healthy legumes and vegetables.
Either green or brown lentils work best because they retain their shape and texture.
Yes, you can easily freeze lentil soup. Refer to our storage instructions for more details.