Red Lentil Soup with Beet Greens

November 22, 2013
11 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6
Author Notes

Bitter tasting foods contribute to better health but sadly, these foods are largely absent in a typical western diet. Inside our digestive system, bitter tasting foods do wonders! They reduce water retention in our bodies while cleansing our inner organs and blood. And don’t worry, you don’t have to start munching on raw bitter melon to include bitter tasting food in your diet! Many different types of leafy greens, spices like turmeric, and fenugreek seeds all provide the “inner” bitterness that your body needs.

The last time I was at the farmers market, I saw people buy the beetroots and discard their greens – boy are they missing out! These beet greens have a natural saltiness to them and can be added to all kinds of soups, stews, and warm salads. This warm and hearty lentil soup uses three of my favorite bitter foods – beet greens, fenugreek seeds, and turmeric. This is my go-to detox recipe for the cold winter! Enjoy some bitterness! —Medha | Farm on Plate

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Farmonplate is a classically trained chef living in Vancouver who cooks with fresh, local ingredients.
WHAT: A hearty soup with flavorful spices and Indian influence.
HOW: In a large pot, boil lentils, fenugreek seeds, tumeric, and ghee until tender, then blend into a purée. Add chopped cooked beet greens and lemon juice and serve yourself a heaping bowl.
WHY WE LOVE IT: If you went as hard as we did this holiday season on cookies, pies, and all variations of sweets, soup is the perfect January refrigerator staple. Health benefits aside, the bitter beetroots are, well, bitter and are a welcome addition to this soothing soup (Bonus: They can be easily swapped for whatever green you have in your fridge.) —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 cups red lentils
  • 1 tablespoon fenugreek seeds
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons ghee, separated (substitute coconut oil if desired)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon cumin seeds
  • 1 teaspoon finely shredded ginger
  • 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • greens from 1 bunch of beets, chopped
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  1. Sort, wash, and drain the red lentils.
  2. Put the lentils in a big pot with 8 cups of water, add fenugreek seeds, turmeric, 1 tablespoon of ghee and salt.
  3. Bring to a full boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer until the lentils are soft and fully cooked, about 30 minutes.
  4. Purée the lentils in blender or with a hand blender, until the consistency is smooth. If the purée is too thick, add more water; then check for seasoning. Keep it warm.
  5. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee in a saucepan over medium heat.
  6. When ghee is hot, add cumin seeds and fry for 15 seconds, until fragrant. Add ginger and garlic, and cook it for another minute.
  7. Add chopped beet greens, cover, and cook for 5 minutes until tender.
  8. Sauté beet greens, then add them to the soup along with some lemon juice, and serve warm.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • IngridHeather
  • AntoniaJames
  • littlelemon
  • Cindy Niquette
    Cindy Niquette
  • erinrae

36 Reviews

IngridHeather April 7, 2024
I haven't read the other reviews, this is simply based on my own first -- and last -- time making this recipe. First, there is something very wrong with the water to lentil ratio, or the cook time. But this particular ration makes an incredibly watery, thin soup. When I blended it and saw how thin it was, I couldn't understand it. I hoped adding the greens would make some sort of difference, but it didn't. When I tased it, the fennel flavor is off the charts -- like chomping down on a piece of black licorice -- and it was completely undersalted.

I don't really understand, because I followed this recipe exactly, only leaving out the cumin seeds. I can't imagine they make all the difference. I must have done something wrong, given that this recipe has four stars. Just don't get it.
IngridHeather April 7, 2024
Reading this again, I realize that I replaced fenugreek seeds with fennel, and I shouldn't have done that at a 1:1 ratio. Still, don't get it.
Marielle February 1, 2021
This recipe is so good! My husband raved about it, both my boys (7 &4) enjoyed it for dinner and my 4 year old just asked me to make “the green things” for his lunch 😳. I thought I was going to cry!
Marielle February 1, 2021
This recipe is so good! Both my boys enjoyed it for dinner and my 4 year old just asked me to make “the green things” for his lunch 😳. I thought I was going to cry!
AntoniaJames October 26, 2020
Excellent recipe, especially when made with very fresh beet greens. I blanch all greens (beet greens, kale, etc.) as soon as possible once I bring them in the house. They hold nicely for a few days. I use blanched greens when making this. Highly recommend. (It's in my "Keepers" collection!) ;o)
Maureen M. May 23, 2020
Does anyone know if I could substitute dandelion greens for the beet greens?
Susan November 2, 2020
I would say yes, try dandelion greens as long as they are fairly young and tender. I have thrown dandelion greens into lots of different soups and stews and even on pizza.
littlelemon March 28, 2020
I'm curious - has anyone made this with yellow lentils instead? I only have yellow chana dal at the moment.
Cecelia March 29, 2020
I think it would be fine with chana dal- a little different one properties and taste but still good!
Cindy N. March 15, 2020
This was delish and my Indian hubby loved it ... tho I did add two red chilies and curry leaves when sauteing the beet greens and used vegetable broth instead of water when cooking the masoor dal.
Cindy N. March 15, 2020
oh ya and did not eat as soup but typical dal over rice
AshleyAOC January 12, 2020
This was... SO bad. I’ve made a million internet recipes, and this one was beyond help. I first made it directly as written, then I tried to salvage it with additions and substitutions... But this is absolute slop. Please go make literally anything else.
IngridHeather April 7, 2024
Agree. I don't understand the other reviews. I'm mourning my beet greens.
erinrae May 13, 2018
Great for a rainy early winter night. I didn't have fenugreek so subbed toasted yellow mustard seeds. I used turnip and radish greens and added toasted cumin seeds to the dal mixture so they would be broken down by the blender. Definitely needs the acidity of the lemon juice. Will make again!
Anne S. January 30, 2017
This was fabulous- the lemon seemed like a lot but it added such a bright note. Great recipe!
Susan January 27, 2017
I adore beans and greens in any configuration. Last night it was home-grown calico crowders with collards. Mmmmm. I look forward to adding this to my portfolio.
whatcecesees December 30, 2016
Made this for a brunch recently and while it was good, I found it a bit lacking. Next time will mix it up a bit as I love the idea of using red lentils for soup. Thanks for the recipe!
Michele March 2, 2016
Made this last night and it was delicious! Such an interesting combination, thank you! One question, I didn't use ghee as I didn't have any - what could I have used as a substitute?
Nicole D. January 3, 2024
Coconut Oil is a good substitute imo!
nmdcdn February 1, 2016
Delicious -- spices are wonderful! -- and easy. As others note, an immersion blender works beautifully. I made it as a bread-and-soup entree. If I do so again, will also add a potato next time to help it become a bit more filling. A perfect starter soup!
Sharon H. February 1, 2016
BTW, beet greens are not at all bitter - more sweet and "beety" tasting. Sub chard, or something??
icuqt3.14 January 10, 2016
I am patiently waiting for the lentils to finish cooking. Smells fantastic. I added finely chopped beet stems to the simmering soup while I sautéed the greens with the ghee, cumin, ginger, garlic. Hope that the last step wasn't meant for the sauté of the stems? Either way, I'm sure this will be delish as all of the ingredients are so healthful! Anyone else not wanting the compost the pretty stems?
Sharon H. January 4, 2016
In the process of making this soup for the second time. As I re-read the directions, the last ones involving the beet greens seem to repeat a step? This time, using chard instead of beet greens and will try it again using the bitterest greens I can find. Thanks again.
BarnOwlBaker May 15, 2015
This is a delicious soup and so unusual! I had frozen some extra and we had it for lunch today with naan bread, hummus and veggie sticks. It was so good that I am making another large batch to freeze, even though it is Springtime! Thank you for the recipe. Next I'll try your yogurt cardamom dessert.
Kalena February 23, 2017
Yogurt cardamom dessert? Sounds lovely! Where can i find the recipe for it?
BarnOwlBaker March 28, 2020
Years later.....if you are still interested in the dessert, just highlight yogurt cardamom dessert and “look up”. Same author as this soup her recipe will come up. Nut crust and simple filling - a perfect dessert.
AntoniaJames January 10, 2015
So good! Made excellent leftovers, too, of course. I'm making a double batch today to freeze to have this on hand for future (frequent) enjoyment. ;o)
Emily January 7, 2015
It is really hard to find beet greens in my area this time of year. Is there another bitter green that would work well with this recipe?
Medha |. January 7, 2015
Hello Emily,
You can use arugula, kale, collard greens, dandelion greens, mustard greens, spinach. Any dark leafy green would do it! Happy cooking!