Red Lentil and Quinoa Soup

While staring at 2 big jars of quinoa and red lentils in my cabinet, I wondered if there existed a recipe for a healthy and hearty soup that combined them both?  The best part of this vegetable soup recipes like this is that a big batch of it makes for days of healthy lunch meals.



Red Lentil and Quinoa Soup

It turns out that both lentils and quinoa are used in a classic Peruvian soup, menestra de lentajes, that may also include ginger, coconut milk or bacon.  I decided to go a little diffrent direction and leave out the heavy ingredients such as the milk and the meat.  By bringing in more vegetables like red pepper and spinach, this makes it more of a traditional vegetable stew….or even a Peruvian vegetable chili.  You can definitely go in a number of directions here as the core of it is one of those simple, healthy soup recipes that you can tweak and make your own.

 

 

There may be a need to adjust the water depending on how “soupy” you like your soup as the quinoa and lentils can definitely take on a lot of fluid on their own.  I’ve chosen red lentils here as they tend to soften and integrate better into a soup than green lentils; and the quinoa gives a great chewiness.  Those of you that are focused on pure vegetarian cooking will want to sub in your favorite vegetable stock rather than the chicken stock.

Additionally, some of the ingredients might be a bit challenging to acquire depending on where you live.  Both the achiote paste and aji amarillo paste came from a local Chicago market that caters to Latino shoppers and may not be in most supermarkets.  In this case, your favorite hot sauce could easily be substituted for the aji paste.

 

5 from 3 votes
Red Lentil and Quinoa Soup Recipe
Prep Time
20 mins
Cook Time
1 hr 40 mins
Total Time
2 hrs
 
Healthy and Delicious can co-exist in this hearty vegetable soup
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Latin American, Vegetarian
Servings: 8 Servings
Author: Tony Bailey
Ingredients
  • 4 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 cup Onion finely chopped
  • 1 cup Celery finely chopped
  • 1 cup Carrot finely chopped
  • 1 cup Red Bell Pepper finely chopped
  • 1 15 Ounce Can Diced Tomatoes rinsed
  • 4 Tablespoons Tomato Paste
  • 4 cups Flavorful Stock
  • 4 cups Water
  • 1 cup Red Lentils
  • 1 cup Quinoa
  • 1 cup Chopped Spinach
  • 2 Bay Leaves
  • 2 teaspoons Achiote Paste
  • 1 teaspoon Yellow Aji Pepper optional
  • 2 tablespoons Cilantro
Instructions
  1. In a large stockpot, cook the onion, celery, carrot and red pepper in the olive oil over medium heat for about 10 minutes until clear and softened
  2. Boil 1 cup of the water and use it to dissolve the achiote paste, aji paste & the tomato paste. Both the tomato and achiote pastes are notorious for clumping in your soup if they aren't thoroughly dissolved before introducing.
  3. Add this mixture, along with the remaining water, stock, tomatoes and 1 tablespoon of the cilantro to the pot
  4. Bring this to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add the lentils, quinoa, spinach and bay leaves
  5. Cook for 1 hour, or until the lentils and quinoa are cooked thoroughly
  6. Remove the bay leaves, serve into bowls and garnish with the remaining cilantro

20 Comments

  1. WOW! This looks fantastic! I never considered making quinoa into a soup but totally love lentil soup. Can't wait to try this.

    • Thanks, Gretchen! I was inspired by your share of the article on quinoa by Gaston and his use of pasta de aji in every receta. Was lucky to have been able to dine at AyG when we were in Lima.

  2. Sounds like a nice soup, I'll try it. (Don't know whether I'll find the Achiote Paste, though.)
    If you like quinoa – do you know the fabulous book "Ancient Grains for Modern Meals" by Maria Speck? It's one of my most often used cookbooks.

  3. This looks delicious, I love quinoa but have never tried it in a soup yet. I am going to have to change that soon.

  4. I love quinoa! So often people just put it in salads. So great to see it in a soup. And with another big protein like lentils, who needs meat? (Although a bit of that bacon would have been ok with me too!).

  5. I just made a similar lentil soup….the only thing missing? Quinoa. This looks delicious!

  6. This reminds me of a popular dish we make in the Philippines made of mungbeans. We usually add pork belly or chicharonnes (crispy pork rinds) or small dried shrimps. Delicious as it is nutritious.

    No suprise Foodgawker picked up your photo…great one! I've never tried quinoa and your recipe seems just the right one to start. Thanks.

    • Thanks for the tip, mungbeans are now going on my list of items to explore further. I'm most familiar with them in cake form, but need to look at their soup side too, it seems.

  7. This recipe is a keeper. If I made it I will link up to your website for recipe if that is ok. Thank you for stopping by. I following you through Google+.

  8. Thanks for the recipe. Im ecuadorian (Ecuator is at north of Peru) and we have too "menestra de lentejas " but this is not a soup, it 's for eat like a second plate with white rice, fried beef and "patacones "… do you know what is this? (Like slices of fried green banano) . There is a lentil soup "sopa de lentejas ", this is of course with more liquid (water and milk) and normally is a first plate.

    • Hi Ruth – Just did some reading on patacones and they sound great. I can see how with beef and rice, you have a solid meal. It's always fun hearing about how dishes are prepared differently throughout Latin America. Much like the numerous ways one can make chili here in the US. Thanks for stopping by!

  9. Did you use fresh or dried cilantro? Excited to try this recipe!

    • Hi Sara – I used fresh cilantro in the recipe. If you use dried, you'd naturally want to cut the amount. But I don't think you'll get the same result since the flavor profile of fresh cilantro is so much different (and brighter) than it's dried out counterpart.

  10. May I ask where you got your bowl from. Its so awesome o-o <3

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