A Pantry-Clearing, Belly-Warming Lentil and Chickpea Soup

March 16, 2017

Two nights ago in preparation for the impending blizzard, my neighbor made a big pot of soup to share with friends. When she dropped it off, she told me it had become her favorite recipe for vegan lentil soup, noting, with a wink, that she always makes it with chicken stock.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

My family devoured the soup that evening, and the next day, during the blizzard, I found myself needing more. I later learned that the recipe is an extremely popular one on the vegetarian cooking blog COOKIE + Kate, and I was pleased to discover I had nearly everything on hand to make it: onions, carrots, garlic, crushed tomatoes, lentils, spices, and (chicken) stock.

I set to work dicing and chopping, measuring and stirring, and before I knew it, the soup was simmering away. Continuing the trend of cleaning out my vegetable bin and pantry, I went a step further and dumped in the chickpeas I had cooked over the weekend.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

I’ve since made this lentil soup with canned chickpeas, which work just as well as cooked-from-scratch, and water in place of chicken stock. (That works, too.) I now have masses of soup on hand to share with my neighbor, to return the favor.

Photo by Alexandra Stafford

A few notes:

Lentils: Use any variety you like, but know that the type you use will determine the texture of the soup. Red lentils break down almost completely, which I like, especially in combination with the chickpeas. French green lentils will remain intact, and brown lentils will also hold their shape well.

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Chickpeas: You don't have to use them—the original recipe does not call for them—but I like the texture they add. If you start with dried, use 8 ounces, which will yield about 4 cups cooked. Two 15-ounce cans, drained, work just fine, too.

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Top Comment:
“Perfection … We all loved the soup!! Unanimous thumbs up around the table! Thank you thank you thank you! Teri”
— Teri

Seasonings: As written, the dominant flavor of the soup is curry, but the flavors could easily be tailored to your liking. For more of a kick, increase the pepper flakes. For more smoke, use more cumin or smoked paprika. Coriander would also be nice here.

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kittie Messman
    Kittie Messman
  • irina
  • Katherine S
    Katherine S
  • Teri
  • Cristy M
    Cristy M
I write the blog alexandra's kitchen, a place for mostly simple, sometimes fussy, and always seasonal recipes. My cookbook, Bread Toast Crumbs is available everywhere books are sold.


Kittie M. March 19, 2017
This sounds wonderful. Is there a slow cooker adaptation?
irina March 19, 2017
Hi Kittie,
I don't use a slow cooker so I can't help you.
I do know that I throw it all in a pot and let it cook slowly on the stove top for about 3 hours and it's better the next day.
Maybe someone else could answer this question!
Alexandra S. March 19, 2017
I think you could probably do as Irina suggests but in a slow-cooker on low for 6 hours or high for 4 — it might take some experimenting to get it right. Maybe look up some other recipes that call for canned chickpeas and see how long they are cooked in a slow cooker. I worry about them getting a little mushy, but maybe it's fine. The lentils get mushy anyway, so I don't worry about those cooking for a long time.
irina March 17, 2017
Funny. This reminds me of the soup I mentioned in another post. I called it Garbage Soup because you can put anything in it and use leftovers.
Got it from Madelaine Kamman about 30 years ago when she had a cooking show on PBS. I also put quinoa in it if I feel like it. And it doesn't have to be curry based. Could be any herb or spice you like!
Alexandra S. March 19, 2017
Quinoa would be great here!
Katherine S. March 17, 2017
Harira! Minus the lamb, pasta, and cinammon!
Alexandra S. March 19, 2017
Fun! I had no idea. Will have to try it.
Teri March 16, 2017
Ali - this was perfect!

Perfect timing … I was wondering what to make for dinner and voila! Your blog post appeared in my email queue!

Perfect recipe … I actually had all the ingredients on hand!

Perfection … We all loved the soup!! Unanimous thumbs up around the table!

Thank you thank you thank you!

Alexandra S. March 19, 2017
Teri! It's so wonderful to hear from you!! Emailing you now ... it has been too long. So glad this worked out. xoxo!!
Cristy M. March 16, 2017
Do you have the nutritional info available?
Alexandra S. March 19, 2017
I don't, I'm sorry! I think "my fitness pall dot com" is a trusted site for nutritional info.
Jessica V. March 16, 2017
I love the look of this but cannot have curry powder or many of its component spices, they make me horribly sick. Since that is as you say the dominant flavor profile, do you have suggestions on how to fully substitute for it with the other spices and possibly new ones (how much of each)? Other than that the recipe looks so delicious, but I'd hate to have a super bland or unbalanced tasting soup. Thanks so much for any advice!
Alexandra S. March 16, 2017
Can you do coriander and/or smoked paprika? I would do a teaspoon of either of those in place of the curry powder. Coriander is especially nice if you toast the seeds and grind them yourself.