The Best Lentil Recipe (Vegetarian, Vegan)

This lentil recipe is seriously delicious and tender. A great way to use dry lentils. Best of all, this lentil recipe is vegetarian, vegan, and packed with major nutrition. It transforms easily into an amazing lentil soup by simply adding more water to the recipe, or is a great main dish or side dish. If not a main dish or using this as a lentil soup recipe, serve with brown rice, cauliflower rice, meat or seafood, sweet potatoes, eggs, or your favorite roasted vegetables. Try pairing with my roasted cauliflower recipe, egg curry recipe, or Caribbean Salmon recipe.

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lentil recipe served with cauliflower rice and sliced cucumbers on a gray plate
Lentil recipe served with cauliflower rice and sliced cucumbers.

Disclosure: This post contains Amway affiliate links which means, if you make a purchase, I’ll receive a very small commission which helps with blogging expenses. Every recipe is FREE to you, and the price you pay is the same for linked products.

How To Cook Lentils (stove top instructions)

FULL RECIPE INSTRUCTIONS ON HOW TO COOK LENTILS ARE ON THE RECIPE CARD LATER IN POST.

Here are the basics for ease of reference. Sautee onion and garlic in oil and then add lentils and pumpkin (winter squash will also work) with water and bring to a boil. After boiling for 30 minutes, add a roughly chopped medium tomato. Finally, add remaining seasonings. See below for more tips on how to transform this lentil recipe into a lentil soup.

Tip on preparing onions and garlic. Quarter onion and peel garlic. Add into food processor for no tears easy preparation.

quartered onion and garlic cloves in a food processor before blending
Before: Easy way to prepare onions and garlic without the tears. Quarter your onion and peel garlic clove. Place in food processor.
Blended onion and garlic in food processor
After! NO tears and ready to pour into pot.

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT THIS VEGETARIAN/VEGAN LENTIL RECIPE

Whether a fan on lentil soup or love lentils on their own, lentils are a staple in my house because of it’s nutrition and my family loves them.

  • Delicious and tender
  • Inexpensive ingredients found at any grocery store
  • Easy to prepare
  • Quick recipe to prepare any day of the week
  • Great for babies on pureed foods (prepare and them blend!) or toddlers so the entire family can enjoy this nutrient dense food.
Lentils in pot after prepared
After cooking lentils are tender. Adding more water after completely cooled is the best time to finish this recipe as a lentil soup recipe.

What are Lentils?

Lentils are basically a secret superfood. In short, they are nutritionally dense-edible seeds of legumes.

There are a variety of lentils: red lentils, green lentils, black lentils, french lentils for example, and are often used in vegetarian and vegan recipes in place of meat. Have you tried lentil meatballs before? low cost, low fat. high fiber, high protein.

Of all the varieties, black lentils are thought to be the most nutritious. This recipe calls for brown lentils.

Ingredients for lentil recipe or lentil soup recipe: tomato, onion, garlic, dried lentils, and pumpkin
Main Ingredients for Lentil Recipe

Lentils Nutrition

The nutrition of 1/2 cup of lentils are crazy good with 9 rams of g plant-protein and 8 grams fiber. They are also a good source of iron, folate, and potassium no matter how you cook lentils.

Lentils are good for weight loss and sustaining overall health goals. Like chickpeas, they are known as pulses. Their influence on weigh loss comes from the combination of low-fat, high fiber, high protein, and complex carbs. These soluble fibers and other properties may aid in slowing down digestion and absorption, and ultimately leading to a very satisfying feeling of fullness. Talk about a comfort food win!

Want even more protein? Then, consider adding plain protein powder to the recipe. I’m a big fan of the Nutrilite All Plant Protein Powder. Make sure to add it and the end and stir it in really well. Two scoops adds an additional 10 grams of protein to the recipe.

Lentils on black stovetop with cover off. Salei's hand stirring lentils with gray spoon.
Please excuse my messy stove top! You really want all this liquid absorbed before serving or before adding water to make this a soup. It taste soooooo good following this instruction and is worth it!

Tips + Notes on How To Make This Vegetarian/Vegan Lentil Recipe As A Dish or a Soup:

How To Cook Lentils (Tips for Vegetarian Lentil Recipe)

Sift through and sort the dry lentils to remove any impurities and then rinse with cold water. It is not uncommon for a small rock to be in there but will be easily seen in you place them in a large bowl.

Lentils in pot before tomatoes added
Lentils after first half of boiling before tomatoes added.

After cooking, let the lentils cool at least 30 minutes to an hour. The water will absorb so if you test taste and it’s a bit sharp, don’t worry. After the rest of the water is absorbed, you’ll get the full flavor. Really tender and delicious.

Adding tomato to pot during cooking process of lentil recipe or lentil soup recioe
Add tomato, roughly chopped, after lentils have been cooking for about 30 minutes.

How to Make This Vegetarian/Vegan Lentil Recipe into a Lentil Soup Recipe

If making this lentil recipe into a lentil soup recipe, after the full absorption, add more water once cup at a time up to four cups. Salt and pepper to taste. It’s that easy.

Other Tips + Notes (Lentils Nutrition)

Can I eat lentils every day? Again, secret superfood! Research shows that one serving of lentils can significantly reduce LDL, aka “bad cholesterol.”

Do lentils need to be soaked. No! Please do not pre-soak. The nutrition in lentils will remain without soaking. Completely unnecessary step for cooking.

Your pots matter. That’s why I like the set I have so much. I’ve linked it here for you.

Are lentils low carb? I follow a low-carb diet mostly, and eat lentils regularly. 1/2 cup of lentils has 20grams of carbohydrates. But of those 20grams, 8 grams are fiber. It’s also low in fat and high in plant-based protein. Its an awesome food naturally.

Lentil recipe and lentil soup recipe finished. You can see the tomatoes, pumpkin, and tomatoes on the gray spoon in the pot.
See the tenderness. The pumpkin and tomatoes add so much flavor to this recipe.

The Best Lentil Recipe (Vegetarian, Vegan)

thenaturalfoodie
This lentil recipe is seriously delicious and tender. A great way to use dry lentils. Best of all, this lentil recipe is vegetarian, vegan, and packed with major nutrition. It transforms easily into an amazing lentil soup.
18.6g Carbs, 2.8g Fat, 5.9g Protein
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course dinner, lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Caribbean, Indian, Mediterranean
Servings 12 people
Calories 101 kcal

Equipment

  • food processor
  • large stock pot
  • cutting board
  • knife

Ingredients
  

  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 6 cloves garlic
  • 1 pound dry brown lentils
  • 2 ounces fresh pumpkin (or other winter squash)
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 tbsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ½ tsp ground red pepper (optional)
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tbsp pink Himalayan salt (or salt of choice)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 cups water *for soup after water absorbed add up to 4 additional cups of water one cup at a time if serving immediately and desire more liquid consistency to soup

Instructions
 

For Lentil Recipe

  • Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in stock pot.
  • Add finely chopped onions and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes on medium-high heat.
  • Add lentils, bay leaf, and pumpkin (or winter squash of choice) with 8 cups of water.
  • Bring to a boil.
  • Once boiling, reduce heat to halfway between medium and high heat and cover pot.
  • After cooking for 30 minutes, add a roughly chopped medium tomato. Add another 30 minutes to your timer. Do not put cover back on pot.
    Adding tomato to pot during cooking process of lentil recipe or lentil soup recioe
  • Add remaining seasonings (turmeric, cumin, paprika, ground red pepper, ground black pepper, and salt)
  • Mix well and allow to continue to cook for the remaining 30 minutes.
  • Let cool until all liquid is absorbed (about 30 minutes to 1 hour)

For Lentil Soup Recipe

  • Follow all above steps
  • After cooling and all liquid has been absorbed, if a more liquid-like consistency is desired, add up to 4 additional cups of water, one cup of water at a time.
  • Salt and pepper to taste.

For Baby Food

  • Follow instructions above for lentil recipe but do not add ground red pepper. If still too spicy, remove the ground black pepper from recipe also.
  • After cooling process as instructed above, puree and store in freezer using ice cube trays. After frozen in ice cube trays, place all cubes in a ziplocked bag to maximize flavor and shelf-life.
    *For Stage 2 and above only.
Keyword baby food recipe, how to cook lentils, lentil recipe, lentil soup recipe, lentils nutrition, vegan recipe, vegetarian recipe, what are lentils

GOT QUESTIONS? I’m happy to help. Leave a comment and add some stars to let me know if you enjoyed this recipe. Let me know how you re-created it too. Also, please share it on social media. Tag #thenaturalfoodie. Thanks! -Salei

Salei, The Natural Foodie
Salei, The Natural Foodie

Hey foodies! I’m Salei. I am a mom, partner of a law firm, and the cook in my home. Enjoy my tasty, low sugar, low carb, and high-protein recipes, easy recipes, as well as healthier Caribbean recipes and other international recipes. Learn more about me at my FAQ page.

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