My go-to vegan lentil soup

Halloween was this weekend and everyone is all candy! chocolate! pumpkin spice! and I’m just sitting here like LENTILS, MOTHERFUCKERS.

For some reason* October has been extremely cold this year. I got my mitten collection out on, like, October 2nd and have been shivering… my timbers. My favorite thing to do when it starts getting cold (as I mention just about every goddamn year) is make big batches of really hearty soup. It lasts through the week and is a thing I can eat and feel extremely full (but is healthy enough that I can justify eating multiple courses of dessert).

*it’s the end of days


When I make lentil soup I rarely follow any kind of recipe, but rather the same structure for building flavor and texture. How do I do this?

  • For flavor I always start by sautéing the bejesus out of some onions. They get browned and caramelize and could make a bundle of old sticks taste good.
  • Include a variety of herbs, spices, and tons of garlic (always tons of garlic). Spices and herbs are fat-soluble, so I like to add them at the beginning when there’s just oil in the pan, or just oil + onions.
  • Add something acidic (I often add the juice of half a lemon) and something for umami flavor (soy sauce, sautéing mushrooms along with the onions, or tomato paste do the trick).
  • My secret ingredient in almost all soups is salsa. I keep a few jars of good stuff on hand and add about 1/2 a cup for extra tomatoey spicy flavor.
  • I like using broth as a base (or homemade stock whenever I can make it), but I always have good quality bouillon on hand to make water into broth instantly.
  • Let it simmer forever. Obviously none of us have infinite time, but on a Sunday afternoon put a pot on the stove and let it sit while you do laundry, read, check your MyFace, whatever. Time really is the most important variable in building flavor, so be patient and your soup will reward you for it.

It’s all good and fine to have your soup taste great, but you’ll kill it if you remember to think about the texture. I load mine up with different texture vegetables (something starchy like potato, sweet potato, carrots), different types of beans, squishier stuff like mushrooms, tomatoes, and peppers, and greens (kale and chard work great). Adding lots of veg might even keep you healthy all winter. Or you might get the plague.


Those are my go-to methods for pretty much any soup I make. Here’s the recipe for this particular soup:

serves 6

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pobalano pepper, seeds removed and chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 small (or 1 large) red potatoes, chopped finely
  • about 5 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 cup green lentils (any kind will work)
  • 1 teaspoon tomato paste
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • hot sauce (optional)
  • salt and pepper, to taste


Heat 1/4 cup olive oil (enough to coat bottom of pot) in a large pot on medium heat. Add rosemary and onion and sauté 5-10 minutes, until translucent and lightly browned. Add the mushrooms and garlic and cook them down (5ish minutes), then add the pepper (sauté another 5 minutes). Add potatoes and cook for roughly 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add lentils, tomato paste, and salsa, then cover with veg broth or water + bouillon (about 1 inch above the top of everything else). Cover and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer for about 30 minutes. Once the potatoes and lentils are tender, season with salt, pepper and optional hot sauce to taste. Serve with good bread!


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