Is there a word for when the wind sends the autumn leaves swirling in the driveway, orange blurring with gold, like calico cats chasing their tails? Well, there should be. Though it was unusually warm, yesterday looked like the classic fall day, leaves both bright and brown raining down, revealing the gray bones of the trees. I was out harvesting jalapeno peppers, the last of our summer vegetables, when something about their bright greenness amid all the reds and golds of fall made me stop, pull out my phone, and take a photo:
The colors also reminded me of one of my favorite lentil soups, which you may remember as Rainy Day Lentil Soup. I’ve created almost a dozen lentil soup variations, but this is the soup I think of when I hear the words “lentil soup,” and it’s the only brown lentil soup I make that’s seasoned with coriander and cumin–just faintly, not enough spice to rival Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup or Ethiopian Inspired Red Lentil Soup, just a subtle hint that’s warming and inviting on a blustery fall day.
I realized as I was making the soup that I’ve actually changed the recipe slightly over the years. I always increase the amounts of onion, potatoes, and carrots and add a little extra seasoning to the pot near the end. The results are a chunkier soup, almost a stew. I didn’t want to just change the original recipe because so many of you have told me you love it, so I’m presenting my updated version here. The quickest and easiest way I’ve found to make it is to use an electric pressure cooker, such as the Instant Pot or Fagor Multicooker, both of which I love. But if you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can make this hearty soup in a Dutch oven or large soup pot. It will probably be even easier in a slow cooker, though I haven’t tried that. Let me know in the comments if you have and what settings you used.
- 2 cups brown or green lentils, uncooked
- 8 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 2 large carrots, thickly sliced
- 1 rib celery, chopped
- 2 large gold or red potatoes, cut into large cubes
- 2 bay leaves
- 2 vegetable bouillon cubes (use if water is used instead of broth)
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
- freshly ground pepper, to taste
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- Additional seasonings: 1/4 teaspoon coriander, 1/4 teaspoon cumin, 2 cloves minced garlic
- salt, to taste
- 4 ounces fresh spinach (chopped if large leaves)
- 2 teaspoons Red wine vinegar or lemon juice
- Pick over the lentils and rinse well.
- Start the water or broth heating in the pressure cooker while you chop the vegetables. Add all ingredients except the additional seasonings, salt, spinach, and vinegar into the cooker and bring to a boil. Seal the cooker and cook at high pressure for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to sit for 5 minutes before using a quick-release method to release the pressure. (If you don’t have a pressure cooker, you can simply cook this on the stove until the lentils are tender, about an hour.)
- Check to make sure the lentils and potatoes are tender; if not, cook, covered but not at pressure, until done, adding water if it seems too thick. Remove the bay leaves, and add the additional seasonings, salt, and spinach. Check the seasonings, adding more cumin and coriander as needed. Cook for just a few minutes to wilt the spinach. Stir in the vinegar or lemon juice and serve.
Do I Have a Recipe for Lentil Soup?!
Homestyle Lentil Soup
Ridiculously Easy Lentil Soup
Curried Red Lentil Soup with Dandelion Greens
Ridiculously Easy Lentil and Vegetable Stew
Red Lentil Soup with Vadouvan
Italian Lentil and Vegetable Soup
French Lentil and Portabella Stew
Choose one to enjoy!
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