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.
Have more quinoa to use up? Be sure to try my favorite Mediterranean Quinoa Salad, Instant Pot Quinoa Bowls, or Quinoa & Black Bean Salad.
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!
Questions and Reviews
Oh yay for pulses – common word to use in UK for it all.
I love a bit of roasted beetroot hummus = Yum!
I already have all the ingredients at home to make this! Yay!
I was already planning to make soup today. This just vaulted to the top of the list. Sounds great, Megan.
I’d never heard the term “pulses” before – got a new recipe and learned something new today – what a deal. 😉
Can I pop over to your place to sample? Just kidding. But seriously, I’ve been thinking about suggesting my my nearest neighbors about getting on a meal plan, making a Humongous bowl of a stew such as this one and sharing with them all. Then they take a turn and you end up cooking once or twice a week instead of every day and you eat healthy. It never ceases to amaze me how healthy food can taste so delicious and still be good for you.
I made this for dinner tonight and it was sooo delicious! I didn’t have any kale so I used spinach instead, which worked well too. I’ll definitely make this again!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Looks great! Have you tried it in the instant pot?
I haven’t with this one yet, but I imagine a 10-minute high pressure cooking cycle would work!
Thank you for another great recipe. I made this tonight using a mix of spinach, baby kale, and chard and also added a bit more water to make it more soup-like.
Next time I might substitute amaranth for the quinoa to see how it turns out (I’m always struggling to find a use for amaranth!).
I just made your paleo carrot cake and LOVED it! I’d really like to know the calories/nutrition of your recipes.
Can I find that anywhere?
This is perfect to warm things up with the recent 10′ Pittburgh weather- can’t wait to try it! Question- I have a birthday occasion coming up and wondering if you have any ideas or a go-to celebratory dessert that I could make in lieu of the typical birthday cake scenario. Anything you do for a birthday dessert? Or make, like vegan/Paleo cake? Or is it a “cheat” meal treat?:)
My favorite desserts are my French Silk Pie and Peanut Butter Cup Pie! Both don’t taste like a “healthy” alternative at all. 🙂
I made her cupcakes from her book for my daughter’s birthday- both the chocolate and vanilla and both kinds of icing. Everyone loved them ! They were sooooo delicious!
Yay! I’m so glad to hear that everyone enjoyed the cupcakes and frostings, Melissa!
I made this last night and it was amazing! I like it better than the curry dish from last week! Definitely a “make again”! Thank you!
I made a simplified version of this, because of lack of ingredients & for my recovering tum’s sake, 2 nights ago. It was fantastic! I look forward to making your exact recipe when my tum is back to normal. Thank you so much!
That’s ‘Pittsburgh’ lol…ugh- that’s what happens when you type comments hastily on your iPhone!:( Thanks for the b-day suggestions…Megan, your French silk pie was amazing- made it a few times already. I’m a vanilla loving girl, rather than a chocoholic, and have always had an addiction to traditional yellow cake with buttercream frosting, so maybe I will use your cupcake and frosting recipe to make a homemade layer cake- hope it will work!:)
This was so good! It was actually added to our go to meal list. Thank you! We were actually out of town when I first read the recipe and my husband stated how it sounded so good we needed to make it when we got home. We are so glad we did!
Miss your “What I ate Wednesday” posts! More soon?:)
This soup is delicious! I sprinkled it with nutritional yeast before serving it along with some hawaiian salt and fresh cilantro. Thank you for the recipe. Yay for pulses!
Do you use dry or cooked lentils?
…one more thing…i made the almond butter fudge, but used organic peanut butter instead because thatʻs all I had in the pantry…itʻs setting in the freezer at the mo…tasted a bit of it before I placed it on the wax paper…DELISH! Oh, and of course, added 1 TBSP of dark chocolate chips to the mix =-). Canʻt wait to try the finished frozen product!
Is there any reason I couldn’t use a broth instead of water? Making this tonight, sounds delicious!
I am loving your cookbook and can’t wait to try this recipe next week. If I can’t get organic celery any suggestions on substitutions or anything else I can add. Thanks, Erika
This was delicious!! I had an Ethiopian spice mix that complemented this dish so well and added the perfect amount of heat. I love your recipes.
Another delicious recipe!! I only made half a batch and it’s awesome, great with the kale a smart way to add extra greens!
Thanks for the recipe!!
I made this the other day, it was delicious. My five year old ate three helping, then said you made this Mommy…very good job! 🙂 This is a hit and I will make it again next week!!
Excellent spice combo, Megan. I used some potatoes from my garden in place of the lentils and quinoa, and it turned out great. Thank you!
I made this tonight, so beautiful and nourishing. My 2 year old enjoyed it too! I’ve been following and making your recipes for years but this is my first time commenting. I can honestly say I’ve had great results and really enjoyed everything I’ve made. My friends are always asking for the recipes I use and it’s always the same answer… Detoxinista?.
That’s so nice to hear! Thank you for letting me know. 😉
I added this recipe to my “try it someday soon” list when you first posted and finally got around to cooking it up last night. My family was so surprised how tasty and satisfying it was! (They don’t even know how inexpensive and nutritious it is, and I’ll leave it that way.) Satisfied with another great recipe — am certainly adding this one to my recipe box.
I thought I would let you know that the EXCELLENT Kale, Quinoa and Lentil Stew is missing, in the directions, when to add the kale. I thus forgot to put it in. I am having the stew again tomorrow and will add kale this time!
Thank you for letting me know!
Actually, I just checked and it’s in step #4. 😉 Hope you enjoy it with kale the next time around!
I recently had Amy’s soup and liked it so much I went back to the store to hunt down more of it. Oddly it reminds me of a soup my mother used to make which uses very different ingredients. She made what is known in the Caribbean as “asopao” a chicken, rice and tomato based soupy stew. As I’ve become a vegetarian that is no longer an option and so I was happy to find Amy’s delicious soup but it can be costly to buy in quantity.. Glad to find a version online that may match or surpass the canned version. Thank you for providing a recipe!! Like another person mentioned I will add cilantro, and preferably “culantro” (otherwise called “recao”) another very flavorful herb found in Hispanic supermarkets that I detected in Amy’s canned soup much to my surprise. It is used as part of a base for flavoring many dishes. Like cilantro it has a distinctive flavor, but grows as a spear shaped leaf with a strong central rib on the underside. It adds a dimension to this already very good soup that will take it over the top. A little goes a long way for those curious enough to try it one day.
Delish! I used a red onion instead of a yellow onion, and didn’t have the large box of Pomi tomatoes, so used a can of chopped tomatoes. It’s sSOOOO hardy especially here in Chicago which is still cold and just had some more snow fall. Keep up the great and always tasty recipes!
I was wondering if it’s possible to add some meat in there? What would go best with it?
Fantastic, hearty dish. Made this for the family dinner last night, but added a cinnamon stick and loads of cilantro. It was a real winner thanks for sharing.
wow I honestly didn’t expect much flavor from this but I am shocked! This is soooo good and I can’t stop eating it. This is a definite keeper. One of the best soups I have ever had.
Hi! can I use red quinoa with regular lentils? don’t have the red ones. also I have tons of tomato but not boxed. can I just chop those up? sorry I am a newbie to cooking. 🙂
Red lentils are the fastest type of lentil to cook– if you use any other variety, I’d plan on doubling the cooking time. The recipe should work just fine, you’ll just need to wait longer! 😉
Do you rinse your quinoa before using? It seems to have a bitter undertone when it is not rinsed…
Also, I will be adding some black pepper to pair with the turmeric… I put turmeric in EVERYthing, and the black pepper helps in the absorption of the turmeric.
This looks so yummy! I’m allergic to tomatoes; what do you think I could successfully use in place of the 26 oz box of tomatoes?
I just made this soup and can’t believe how delicious it is! I substituted chicken broth for the water and only used 1/4 cup of quinoa so it would have a thinner consistency. We also topped it with cayenne pepper and cilantro. I’m so pleased that I took a chance on it. My husband and boys say it is one of the best things I’ve ever made. Thanks!
This recipe is delicious! I was wondering why in your photos it looks so red. I have made it twice now, following your recipe exactly and other than a sprinkling of carrot, tomato, and kale, the overall color is yellow/golden.
Hmmm… maybe it’s just the lighting? Depending on the light source, my dishes can go from looking blue, yellow, or red!
Red or yellow, color this dish delicious!My hubby made it a few days ago and I get to devour the last delectable bowlful! Yum! Love, love , love red lentils which cook up so creamy and add that satisfying succulence to soups and stews. This is definitely my new favorite! Thank you for the spreading the joy of delicious, healthy plant-centric food!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it!
Can I use a red onion? Is there any difference in taste? Thank you so much for your recipes! I’m just learning about plant based diets and your recipes make me feel like I may be able to make a complete lifestyle change. They are super yummy and my family loves them!
Delicious! Of course, it is even better the second day! I use chicken bone broth in place of the water and add just a smidge of chipotle powder. Yum!
Hi! I found this bc I love the Amy’s soup so much. Just made this and my hub and I love it!!! Love how fresh, hearty and balanced it is. I did use Trader Joe’s veg broth and added fresh ginger (about an 1″ piece, fine,y chopped in addition to the dry) and one jalapeño finely diced w some seeds bc the canned soup has a nice heat to it. Oh and added 1/2 tsp pepper for the turmeric. Looks thicker than I was expecting but as we ate it we couldn’t stop raving about how fresh and perfect this is, and so nourishing. Took me about 45 min to chop and sauté everything, then about 30 for the boil, simmer and kale wilt. Nice Sunday meal and will last us several days. For those wanting same as the can, maybe add another cup of water, but even though was different, was great as its own combo. Definitely going in our regular meals rotation. Thanks so much!!! <3. Ps our grocery had that brand of tomatoes avail organic which was nice. I think I will try w fresh turmeric root as well next time.
Just made this and it was so easy and delicious!! This is a keeper for sure!! Thank you!
can i freeze this?
Do I cook the quinoa and rinse it first ? Or add it in uncooked ? I have heard quinoa can have a bitter taste if not rinsed.
You can also get sprouted quinoa which has already been soaked & rinsed
My celery never got soft and i think i used too much tomatoes/water, but it was tasty still 🙂
I’m newly vegan so am in search for recipes I’m gonna want to eat often until I find enough recipes to have more variety. The reviews of this one were so good I wanted to try it. The garlic was so overpowering, I luvv garlic but 4 cloves was way too strong for me. I added a tin of baked beans and more tomatoes but I couldn’t get it to weaken. Very disappointed although I’m not dissing ur recipe at all and am still glad I tried it 🙂
I doubled the ingredients and only then discovered my pot isn’t big enough for 5×2 cups of liquid. So went on making it with only the half liquid and it turned out perfect. Would be way too soupy for a “stew” if used all, so if you guys also like thicker foods, be careful with the water / stock. Otherwise – a very good recipe 🙂
This looks so yummy, putting in on my list to try later this week. May sub a sweet potato for the carrots (I only like them disguised). Will post report then. Thanks!
I love this soup. I just made some i make it often. Its so easy to make. Thank you
I give 4 Stars to this recipe! Delicious! (I’m eating it as I type.)
I’m making this right now and it smells sooooo yummy!
I made this using green lentils and baby carrots. I didn’t have a box of chopped tomatoes so I used a can of diced tomatoes plus fresh halved cherry tomatoes to complete the 24 oz needed. All was perfect. I doubled the amount of salt and used Diamond kosher. Should’ve made a double batch. My pregnant belly plus my two toddler boys gobbled most of up in one sitting.
Amy’s Quinao, Kale, & Lentil Soup has been a staple in my pantry for years so I decided to finally recreate it myself. Your recipe exceeded my expectations and is way better! I now have doubled up recipes in my freezer. So good!
Can you freeze this receipe??
I haven’t done it with this one yet, but in my experience soups and stews freeze very well. I bet it would work!
Great thanks Megan! Can’t wait to make this! I was just worried about freezing cooked kale!! Don’t normally freeze food but this be handy to make for big batch!!