I happen to pick up a soup from Trader Joe’s a couple weeks ago called, ‘Lentils with Ancient Grains’. It’s a great ready-made soup to pick up when you’re on the go. The flavor was so wonderful I could eat two containers at one time. Since then I’ve been trying to recreate this same soup with its deep flavors in my kitchen without much luck. However, I did manage to come up with this recipe for a smoky lentil and quinoa soup that is pretty darn good in my book. I’ve made several versions of this soup and have finally settled on the recipe you see here.
Since posting this recipe, I’ve made this soup time and time again. I find it tastes even better the next day. I think that’s why it was hard to get the exact same flavor as the Trader Joe’s soup. Being that it’s packaged the soup has time to rest and develop its flavor. Luckily this soup makes quite a bit so you’ll have some leftovers to enjoy.
Lentils rank #3 in the legume and nut family for protein content by weight, soy and hemp come in ahead. Per 1/4 cup dried, about 1/2 cup cooked, lentils you will find 12 grams of protein, 156 calories and 14 grams of fiber. While lentils are not a complete protein, the addition of quinoa, a complete protein, is a great way to round this soup out perfectly making sure all essential proteins are covered. Like lentils, quinoa is not only a great source of protein but also has plenty of fiber containing 7 grams per 1/4 cup and is low in fat. Together they are a great source of iron, magnesium and vitamin B-6.
Feel free to use either French, beluga, green or brown lentils. I’ve used green and French lentils in this recipe and both work well and are delicious. As for the quinoa, use your favorite. I love using the tri-colored mixed with white quinoa…it’s my favorite combo for texture and color.
The produce for this soup is simple staple items that you may already have on hand. Not a lot of chopping either making it an easy soup to put together quickly. Dice the onion and carrot on the smaller side as shown in the picture above or cut on the chunky side if you prefer. I especially enjoy sauteing these ingredients together…smells so good from the get go and once you add in your spices it will really begin to make you hungry.
This one pot soup will be ready in about 1 hour. You can easily throw this together in a slow-cooker as well. Add all the ingredients and cook on low for 8 hours or high for 4 (or check you manual for ideal cooking times of similar soups).
SMOKY LENTIL & QUINOA SOUP
- 1 cup lentils (french, beluga or green/brown)
- 1/2 cup quinoa
- 2 large carrots, diced 1/4″
- 2 stalks celery, diced
- 1 small onion, diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 tablespoon grapeseed or olive oil or 1/4 cup water for water saute
- 1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes (I used fire roasted) or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
- 6 – 7 cups vegetable broth or water (or use a combo)
- 2 – 3 bay leafs
- 2 teaspoons smoked sweet paprika (if using hot use 1 teaspoon or to taste)
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme or 1 tablespoon fresh
- 1 teaspoon dried basil
- 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
- mineral salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- chopped parsley for garnish, optional
Rinse your lentils well and pick through removing any oddly shaped or colored lentils. Rinse quinoa using a fine mesh strainer to remove any powdery residue.
In a large pot/dutch oven, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic, saute for 5 minutes, until onions are tender. Add smoked paprika, cumin, thyme and nutmeg, cook until fragrant, about 1 – 2 minutes. Add in tomatoes, broth, lentils, quinoa, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce heat and simmer for 40 minutes, stirring occasionally and tasting for flavor as you go. Once done, remove from heat, add balsamic vinegar and stir. Remove bay leaves before serving.
Spoon soup into serving dishes and top with optional chopped parsley. Pairs great with avocado toast!
Soup serves 4 – 6
Feel free to add 1 cup of quinoa instead of 1/2 cup. Just be sure to add the full 7 cups of liquids when cooking, adding more at the end if needed. You can also try using 1 1/2 cup lentils and 1/2 cup quinoa if you like.
For me, using a good vegetable broth in this soup was key to flavor. I used 4 cups of broth and 2 1/2 cups water.
Use 2 teaspoons of thyme if you don’t have any dried basil on hand.
If you’re a tomato lover, try using 1 can (28 oz) of diced tomatoes or 3-4 fresh tomatoes.
If you feel the soup is on the sweet side, add the juice of one lemon to cut the sweetness.