Very Green Lentil Soup


Lentils seem to go well with just about anything, and here they play well with a collection of greens and some cumin and coriander to add a gentle spicy note to this soup recipe. The result is a hearty winter soup with layers of flavor. Both French green lentils (available in natural-foods stores and specialty markets) and more commonly available brown lentils are delicious in this soup. The French green lentils hold their shape better when cooked, while brown lentils will start to break down a bit.

Cook Time:
1 hr 5 mins
Additional Time:
15 mins
Total Time:
1 hr 20 mins
8 servings, about 1 2/3 cups each


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for garnish

  • 2 large yellow onions, chopped

  • 1 ¼ teaspoons salt, divided

  • 2 tablespoons plus 4 cups water, divided

  • 1 cup French green (Le Puy) or brown lentils

  • 8 large green chard leaves

  • 1 medium Yukon Gold potato, scrubbed

  • 12 cups gently packed spinach (about 10 ounces), any tough stems trimmed

  • 4 scallions, cut into 1-inch pieces

  • 5 cups vegetable broth, store-bought or homemade

  • 2 cups chopped broccoli

  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds, lightly toasted and ground (see Tip)

  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander

  • Freshly ground pepper to taste

  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint

  • ½ jalapeño pepper, minced

  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, or more to taste

  • Crumbled feta cheese for garnish


  1. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add onions and 1/4 teaspoon salt; cook, stirring frequently, until the onions begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce the heat to low, add 2 tablespoons water and cover. Cook, stirring frequently until the pan cools down, and then occasionally, always covering the pan again, until the onions are greatly reduced and have a deep caramel color, 25 to 35 minutes.

  2. Meanwhile, rinse lentils and pick out any small stones; combine the lentils with the remaining 4 cups water in a soup pot or Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Trim the white ribs out of the chard; chop the greens and slice the ribs (keep in separate piles). Cut potato into 1/2 -inch dice. Chop spinach; set aside.

  3. When the lentils have cooked for 20 minutes, stir in the chard ribs, potato, scallions, broth and the remaining 1 teaspoon salt; return to a gentle simmer. Cover and cook for 15 minutes.

  4. Stir in the chard leaves, broccoli, cumin and coriander. When the onions are caramelized, stir a little of the simmering liquid into them; add them to the soup. Return to a simmer, cover and cook 5 minutes more. Stir in the reserved spinach, cilantro, mint, jalapeno and pepper; return to a simmer, cover and cook until the spinach is tender but still bright green, about 5 minutes more. Stir in 1 tablespoon lemon juice. Taste and add more lemon juice and/or pepper, if desired. Garnish each bowl of soup with a drizzle of olive oil and crumbled feta cheese.


Tip: Toast cumin seeds in a skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Cool slightly. Grind to a fine powder in a spice mill, blender or clean coffee grinder.

To make ahead: Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

181 Calories
4g Fat
29g Carbs
9g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Serving Size about 1 2/3 cups
Calories 181
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 29g 10%
Dietary Fiber 9g 34%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 9g 19%
Total Fat 4g 5%
Saturated Fat 1g 3%
Vitamin A 5008IU 100%
Vitamin C 28mg 31%
Folate 206mcg 51%
Sodium 535mg 23%
Calcium 119mg 9%
Iron 5mg 30%
Magnesium 91mg 22%
Potassium 793mg 17%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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