This hearty Quinoa Soup is loaded with plant-based protein and is the perfect cold weather comfort food. Made with fast-cooking quinoa and red lentils, it’s an easy weeknight meal, or a convenient packed lunch.
Why You’ll Love It
Inspired by a can of Amy’s Quinoa, Kale & Red Lentil Soup, this soup is a complete meal in a bowl. Thanks to the quinoa, it has the 9 essential amino acids that the body can’t make on its own, plus extra fiber to help keep you feeling full.
Paired with red lentils and kale, which are both a good source of iron, this soup also contains prebiotics, which may help to promote a healthy gut. Since we’re adding tomatoes to this recipe, which are a source of vitamin C, the iron found in these plants should be better absorbed, too.
Plus, this recipe makes a huge batch of soup! If you’re into meal prepping, you’ll be covered for several meals when you make this. It’s naturally vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free so it should accommodate a number of special diets.
Ingredients You’ll Need
What’s in quinoa soup?
- Red lentils
- Diced tomatoes
- Water or vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
Feel free to use any other vegetables you have on hand, too. Soups are very flexible and forgiving!
If you don’t have dried lentils on hand, you could used canned beans in their place, but be sure to use less water in that case, since the lentils absorb quite a bit of liquid in this recipe.
Note: Quinoa is coated in saponins, which make it taste bitter and can affect nutrient aborption. For the best tasting soup, be sure to rinse the dry quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under running water for at least 60 seconds, to help remove that.
You can also soak quinoa for up to 1 hour in advance, but be sure to drain and rinse it very well with fresh water before using it in this recipe.
(I never take the time to do this, however, unless I’m making a sweet recipe, like Quinoa Porridge. Rinsing is sufficient for the flavor of this recipe.)
How to Make the Best Vegetable Quinoa Soup
1. Saute the aromatics. Add a tablespoon of olive oil to a large pot over medium heat, and add in the onion, carrots, and celery. Stir until softened, about 5 minutes.
Add in the garlic, cumin, ginger, and turmeric and stir briefly, about 1 more minute, just until fragrant.
2. Simmer. Add in the red lentils, quinoa, diced tomatoes, salt and pepper, and water.
I usually start with 4 cups of water for this recipe, but you may want to add additional liquid at the end, to make it more soup-like, rather than a thick stew. The choice is yours!
Bring the liquid to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pot with a lid. Let the soup cook at a gentle simmer until the quinoa and lentils are both tender, about 15 to 20 minutes.
3. Enjoy! When the quinoa is done cooking, remove the lid and add in the kale. Stir well, until the kale is wilted, which should take about 1 to 2 minutes.
Adjust the flavoring to taste, by adding more salt, or more water to thin out the soup, as desired.
This quinoa soup can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.
Frequently Asked Questions & Substitutions
Can I cook this in the Instant Pot? Yes! Use the Saute button to cook the onions, carrots, and celery, then add in the spices as directed. When they are fragrant, be sure to deglaze the bottom of the pan by adding a splash of the water, and scraping the bottom with a wooden spoon or spatula, until you’re sure there is nothing stuck to the bottom of the pot.
From there, you can add in the tomatoes, lentils, quinoa, water, salt and pepper, and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. (Honestly, 5 to 8 minutes might be sufficient, but this is my go-to timing for most vegetarian soups, so that the flavors have time to meld.) Let the pressure naturally release for at least 15 minutes, so liquid won’t shoot out of the steam release valve.
When the floating valve in the lid has dropped, it’s safe to open the pressure cooker lid. You can add the kale and make adjustments after that.
What if I don’t like kale? You can swap the kale for chopped spinach instead. I find that I prefer the texture of kale much more if it’s very finely chopped, so be sure to try that if you are kale hesitant.
How can I adjust the flavor? If you don’t need a vegetarian recipe, you can use chicken broth instead of the water for a extra flavor. You can also add a squeeze of lemon juice at the very end of cooking, to brighten the flavors, or swap the veggies if you have a different preference. Zucchini, red bell pepper, or sweet potatoes would also be a nice addition!
What if I don’t have quinoa? You can swap white rice for quinoa, as it has a similar cooking time. (It just won’t have as much fiber or protein in that case.)
Hearty Quinoa Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 yellow onion , chopped
- 3 carrots , peeled and chopped
- 3 celery ribs , chopped
- 4 cloves garlic , minced
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/2 cup dry red lentils
- 1/2 cup dry quinoa
- 2 teaspoons fine sea salt , plus more to taste
- freshly ground black pepper , to taste
- 4 cups water
- 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes , with juices
- 2 cups chopped kale
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat and sauté the onions, carrots, and celery until they start to soften, about 5 minutes.
- Add in the minced garlic, cumin, ginger, and turmeric, and stir for another minute, just until fragrant.
- Add in the lentils, quinoa, water, salt, several grinds of black pepper, and tomatoes, with their juices, and bring the soup to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and cover the pot to let everything simmer until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes.
- Once the lentils and vegetables are very tender, stir in the chopped kale and cook until it's wilted, just a few minutes. Season with additional salt, if desired, and serve warm. For a thinner soup, you can also add more water and season to taste.
- Leftovers can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
If you try this quinoa soup recipe, please leave a comment and star rating below letting me know how you like it!