Food & Drink

Red Lentil Soup: Winter comfort food you can serve to vegetarians

Lentil soup is comforting, simple and easy to throw together with the minimum of ingredients. It’s my go-to when I want something hearty but healthy, when my body needs a reset from indulgent eating, or when I’m tasked with feeding vegetarian or vegan friends on a chilly day.

This pared-down red lentil version is the one I make most often, and it never fails to please.

Red lentils are perfect for weeknights or whenever you’re in a hurry to get a meal on the table. Since they’re de-husked and split before packaging, they cook up quicker than any other variety of legumes, although they are slightly lower in fiber than larger whole varieties. Also note that while they’re a lovely salmon pink in the package, the color changes as they cook, fading to a golden yellow.

Still, their speediness is so appreciated. A half hour is all it takes to go from stove to table.

While the soup is simmering, you’ve got time to figure out what to serve alongside. I often pair lentil soup with crusty bread, toasting it with a drizzle of olive oil and some shredded Parmesan cheese. Slice your bread thick enough to tear off nice big hunks, perfect for dunking and swabbing up the last few drops of soup.

As a finishing touch, top your bowls with a swirl of peppery olive oil, a dollop of tangy yogurt or my personal favorite, gremolata. This simple combination of chopped garlic, parsley and lemon zest gives the soup a punch of freshness.

This recipe is pared down to the basics. You can certainly add a teaspoon of garam masala, Italian herbs or any other seasoning blend to spice things up a bit. Add the spices when you add the lentils and broth.

Coco Morante is a writer for, a website for home cooking. Email comments or questions to