This soup recipe is one that I love for its simplicity. Spicy tomato and lentil soup can be made with ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and storecupboard. It’s warming, hearty and, depending on the stock you use, can be a vegan or vegetarian dish. It’s an incredibly forgiving recipe too. If you happen not to have carrots, for example, the recipe will be just fine. I’d check the taste and consider adding a pinch of sugar if that’s the case. Similarly, onions can be replaced with leeks or shallots and celery left out altogether or replaced with courgette. The spiciness in the recipe for tomato and lentil soup I’m sharing comes in part from smoked paprika and in part from sriracha hot sauce. But, feel free to use your own favourite source of heat – chilli flakes or a fresh red chilli will work well too.
I like my spicy tomato and lentil soup blended so that while it has texture it doesn’t have any discernable vegetables. You may prefer to leave it chunky – and that’s alright too. And when it comes to serving, crunchy olive oil sourdough bread croutons work brilliantly but if you don’t have any, a spoonful of creme fraiche or yoghurt will lift the dish and you can garnish with parsley, thyme or, as I have here with a few shredded celery leaves.
I’ve made my spicy tomato and lentil soup in the instant pot pressure cooker but you can cook it in a normal pan on the hob – it actually doesn’t make much difference to the timing. But, the instant pot means I don’t have to watch and stir! I’ve noted how to make the recipe both ways so you can do whatever suits you.
Spicy tomato and lentil soup is an excellent lunch option. Lentils are both frugal and nutritious, packed with vitamins, magnesium, zinc and potassium. And, they are very high in protein (over 25%) and iron. They are also fibre rich, both the soluble and the insoluble type and will help to protect your digestive system and your heart. Paired with vitamin C rich tomatoes you have a super-healthy meal that thanks to the protein and fibre will help to keep you feeling full for longer and will taste good too!
If you’d like to try for yourself, start by assembling your ingredients. You’ll need about 190g or a cup of red lentils. 1 brown onion, 2 or 3 sticks of celery, 2 or three carrots, a couple of cloves of garlic and a can of chopped tomatoes. And, stock of your choice or about 750ml of water
The spicing I use in addition to salt and pepper is a particular brand of sweet smoked paprika, La Chinata “Pimentón de la Vera“ that has a DOP status. It comes from Extremadura Spain and is wonderfully woody and smokey. Sriracha hot sauce from Eaten Alive is a smoked fermented pepper sauce with a list of fermented ingredients that include smoked red pepper, smoked chilli, smoked onion, raw organic cider vinegar, garlic, dry chilli and chilli miso.
Peel and chop all your vegetables and the garlic. You don’t need to worry too much about being neat and tidy because the soup is blended at the end. But chopping the vegetables to around 1cm cubes will mean that everything cooks through reasonably quickly.
Saute the vegetables other than the tomatoes in a little olive oil. I start by adding the onions to the pan for 5 minutes before putting the rest of the vegetables into the pan. Cook them for around 10 minutes till they start to soften and turn a little golden at the edge – the caramelisation adds sweetness to the mixture.
Stir through the paprika and then top up with the stock and tomatoes, add the hot sauce, a good grind of fresh black pepper and a pinch of salt. I’d advise using less salt than you think might be necessary and adding more once the soup has cooked. Some canned tomatoes have added salt and the stock may also include salt. Add the lentils to the mixture.
If you are cooking this on a hob, bring the soup to the boil, cover and reduce to a gentle simmer. To use the instant pot, set the pressure to high and the timer to 25 minutes. The soup will take about 35 minutes to cook on the hob and you’ll need to stir it from time to time.
Once the lentils are soft, use a stick blender to purée the mixture to your own prefered texture. Taste and adjust the seasoning. You can add more hot sauce at this stage if you feel the soup isn’t spicy enough.
Here’s a printable version of the recipe
Spicy Tomato and Lentil Soup
- Pressure Cooker (optional)
- 190 g red lentils
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 2 sticks celery
- 2 medium carrots
- 1 medium brown onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 1-2 tsp hot sauce
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 750 ml stock of your choice or water
- salt and pepper
- Peel and dice all the fresh vegetables and the garlic
- Sautee the onion for 5-8 minutes
- Add the remaining fresh vegetables and the garlic and cook for a further 5 minutes.
- Stir through the paprika and cook for a few seconds to release the oils
- Add the stock, lentils and tomatoes together with the hot sauce, a little salt and a good twist of fresh black pepper
- If you are using an instant pot or pressure cooker set to high with the timer for 25 minutes
- If you are cooking on the hob, bring the mixture to the boil, cover and reduce to a gentle simmer. Cook for 35 minutes stirring occasionally.
- Puree the mixture with a wand blender and check and adjust the seasoning
- Serve piping hot with the garnish of your choice.
Spicy tomato and lentil soup is one of my favourite winter meals. I do rely on soup a lot through the winter and also enjoy this broccoli, stilton and celery soup and game soup which just reminds me of my childhood. When the weather starts to improve, this salad soup is an excellent way to use up leftover salad leaves.