Brown lentil soup is a lot more lovely than it sounds.

Brown Lentil Soup (or Stew)

This is not the creamy, sometimes thin lentil soup you’re probably used to. That is made with red lentils. Green lentils have more flavour and a little more texture than red ones and are great for soup. They also make a very nice stew or paté. This recipe is a three for one: liquid content is what separates soup from stew, texture and temperature what separates stew from paté. The recipe below is for the soup, check out the variations for stew and paté.

Serves: 4 Prep: 5 minutes, cooking time: 45 minutes.
Stores: In the fridge, 3-4 days. In the freezer, up to 3 months.


  • 1 tablespoon oil
  • 2 onions
  • 1 carrot
  • 1 red pepper
  • 1 thumb of ginger
  • 1 tin chopped tomatoes
  • 1 mug brown lentils (about 250 ml)
  • 1-1.5 litre water
  • 1 teaspoon or cube vegetable stock
  • Cayenne pepper


  • Cutting board
  • Knife
  • Potato peeler (or use knife)
  • Mug or cup measurement
  • Measuring jug
  • Stick blender (optional)


  1. Finely chop the onions.
  2. Heat the oil and add the onion.
  3. Cook until golden.
  4. While cooking the onion, peel, or scrape, the carrot and chop finely.
  5. Chop the pepper in fine cubes.
  6. Chop the ginger finely.
  7. When the onion is ready, add the vegetables and ginger, stir and cook a minute or two.
  8. Add the lentils, stir.
  9. Add 1.5 pints of water and the stock.
  10. Add the Cayenne – one quick shake of the pot is enough.
  11. Bring to the boil, then simmer for 30-45 minutes. (You’ll know it’s ready when you try a couple of lentils and they are soft but still have structure.) Keep an eye on it, but you don’t have to stir all the time. Go read a book but don’t forget that there’s something on the stove.
  12. Add more water if you want to, to keep it more liquid.
  13. When it’s ready, blitz a little with the stick blender and stir. The idea is to crush some of the lentils and allow the fibres in them to make the soup more silky, but not all of them – you don’t want to make this all smooth.


  • Go stew: Use 0.5-1 litre water and keep the lentils whole. Serve with veggie sausages on top for dinner.
  • Go solid: Let any left-overs cook a little longer, blitz the whole thing until it’s smooth and let cool. Voila! Lentil paté.
  • Go Mexican: Exclude the ginger, add a teaspoon of ground cumin. Just before serving, add the juice of lemon and a handful of finely chopped coriander.
  • Go Mediterranean: Exclude the ginger, add a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, a teaspoon or so of rosemary, thyme and/or oregano.
  • Go Indian: Add a teaspoon or two of curry powder, a teaspoon of ground cumin, another of ground coriander. Just before serving, sprinkle with dessicated coconut or coriander.
  • Go wild: Add your favourite veggies. Celeriac chopped into 0.5 cm cubes adds pleasant flavour, potatoes add creamy starch, a squeeze of orange and some zest adds a hint of acidity.

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