You must try this sopa de lentejas recipe or Mexican lentil soup. It’s a delicious vegan lentil soup recipe that’s easy to make, super budget friendly and very healthy too. I promise you’re going to add this lentejas soup on your meal rotation!
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What is Sopa de Lentejas
Sopa de lentejas (or lentil soup) is a soup that is one of the classic and authentic Mexican recipes everyone grows up eating. It’s also a Mexican food basics that pretty much everyone knows how to cook. Plus it’s incredibly easy to prepare.
Did I mention that this soup recipe is budget friendly? That’s right, you won’t break the budget with this hearty, healthy and filling soup.
It’s also perfect comfort food that everyone will enjoy whether they’re vegan, vegetarian or meat eater. It’s one of my favorite meals on rainy days.
Ingredients in Sopa de Lentejas
The ingredients used in Mexican lentil soup can vary greatly from on family to another, as well as from one region of Mexico to another. Below are the ingredients I use for my own version of lentil soup. Feel free to adjust or swap out ingredients as desired.
Lentils: We use brown lentils or green lentils. They need to be dried not canned. You should do a quick picking through of them. Don’t forget to rinse well with cold water.
Vegetables: The ones traditionally used are onion, celery, garlic, carrots and tomatoes. You can also use jalapeños for not only extra flavor but a touch of heat.
Bacon: Traditionally pork bacon is used to give the soup a smoky touch. If you want to use vegan bacon go ahead. You’d sauté it with the carrots and celery.
Spices: Traditionally just salt, bay leaves are used. I also like to add ground cumin and chopped parsley — you can use fresh cilantro instead, if you’d like.
Water or Broth: I prefer using low-sodium vegetable broth instead of water. It adds more flavor. But you can use either, you could also use homemade vegetable stock. The traditional version uses chicken broth or chicken stock.
Mexican Lentil Soup Variations
My recipe doesn’t include any regular meat products or even vegan meats. But there are people that like to make chorizo lentil soup. You need Mexican chorizo, not Spanish chorizo. For the vegan version just use your favorite soy chorizo.
Instead of jalapenos, and for a spicier touch, you can add chipotle peppers in adobo sauce or use chipotle powder instead. It will give the lentejas soup a spicy and smoky touch.
If you don’t want any spicy flavor then use ground black pepper instead.
If you don’t like parsley you can use fresh cilantro or if you could also use dried oregano instead.
To make a heartier soup you could add potatoes, chayote, calabacitas or zucchini. Do a mix of vegetables or pick just one.
Where I live in the Yucatan, they eat a version called potaje de lentejas. It’s made with pork bacon, chorizo, ham or pork meat, carrots, potatoes, zucchini, plantains and cabbage. It’s quite the hearty meal.
Do Lentils Need to Be Soaked
No they don’t. Lentils are small and thin enough that they both cook quickly and can go from cooked to mushy texture easily.
Just do a quick picking through them to remove any dirt or debris on them. Also do rinse with cold water before cooking.
Are Lentils Good for You
It’s no secret that lentils are incredibly healthy. Specially so for us that are vegan or vegetarian or plant-based or whatever level of meatless you are.
Lentils are often referred to as “The Poor Man’s Protein”. This of course is due to their high protein content.
Lentils are a great source of the following *, just to name a few nutrients in them.
- B vitamins
- High Fiber
Additionally lentils help lower bad cholesterol, lower the risk of cardiovascular diseases. The health benefits of lentils are countless.
So add them to your diet with this soup, or sprouted lentil salads, or curry recipes.
How to Cook Lentejas Soup
To make this Mexican lentajas or lentil soup, is incredibly easy!
First we need to build the flavor base. This is done by first sautéing the onion, celery, carrots, garlic cloves and the jalapeños until tender.
Then we can add the seasonings to bring out their scents. So next we can add the ground cumin and the parsley and sauté for a few minutes.
Next we can pour in the picked through and rinsed lentils to the pot.
Now we can add the vegetable broth, and then the bay leaf. Next we cover the pot allow it to simmer for about 20 minutes.
We just want the lentils to soften but not turn mushy. Using a heavy pot with a tight lid helps the cooking process.
Once the lentils have softened then we can add the chopped tomato and all the soup to simmer again. The tomatoes are only added after the lentils softened because their acidity extends the lentil’s cooking time.
Lastly we can taste and adjust the seasoning before serving the lentejas soup.
That’s it, super quick and easy!
How to Serve Sopa de Lentejas
This recipe is fantastic for meal prep. If you do meal prepping I highly suggest incorporating this high protein soup recipe.
You can serve Mexican lentil soup with a squeeze of lime, some chopped green onions or more chopped cilantro or parsley, depending on what you used.
You could serve with warm corn tortillas. There are some that serve it with a warm bolillo roll.
If you didn’t use chile peppers and want to add a touch of heat you could drizzle in some hot sauce.
For a vegetarian soup version you could sprinkle in some cotija cheese or use my vegan cotija cheese to keep it vegan.
How to Store
This soup will store in the refrigerator for about 5 days — that is if you made it vegan! If you use meat products it won’t last more than 2 or 3 days. Make it vegan!
Store leftovers in the refrigerator in an airtight container. In the freezer store in a freezer safe container, it’ll keep fresh for about 3 months.
Instant Pot Sopa de Lentejas Recipe
If you wanted to make this soup in and Instant Pot or any electric pressure cooker, the steps are easy.
First you’d heat the pot by selecting the “Sauté” function and once hot add the olive oil and the chopped white onion. Cook until soft then add the celery, carrots, garlic, tomatoes and jalapeno. Cook until they have soften then add the ground cumin and the parsley and mix well for 1 minute.
Next pour in the picked through and rinsed lentils. Then the vegetable broth, salt and bay leaf. Stir until well combined.
Place the lid on the pressure cooker. Move valve to “Sealing”. Then select High Pressure and set for 15 minutes.
Once the cooking time is up let it naturally release for 8 to 10 minutes. Carefully move valve to “Venting” using a wooden spoon and keeping your face away from the steam. Allow all of the steam to release before opening the pot.
Take a small taste test — allow to cool, so you don’t burn yourself. Add more salt if desired. Serve and enjoy!
Sopa de Lentejas Recipe
Below it my super easy, quick and cheap Mexican lentil soup recipe. I promise you’re going to love it, its full of amazing flavors!
It’s a great way to feed your family without breaking your budget because the main ingredient is usually not too expensive.
Mexican Lentil Soup | Sopa de lentejas
- ½ cup white onion roughly chopped
- 1.5 to 2 Tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup carrot peeled & chopped (it’s one medium-small carrot)
- 1 stalk celery finely chopped
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 small jalapeño finely chopped
- ½ teaspoon ground cumin or use smoked paprika or 1/4 cup chopped vegan bacon
- 2 tablespoons parsley chopped
- 1 dried bay leaf
- 2 cups brown or green lentils picked through & rinsed
- 5 cups of low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 whole finely chopped tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon sea salt adjust to taste
- Heat a large heavy pot, then add the oil and once warm add the onion and sprinkle in half to one teaspoon of sea salt. Saute it until soft then add celery and carrot and saute for 5 minutes. Then add the garlic and jalapeno and cook for 2 to 3 minute. Next add the cumin and cook for another minute. Mix in the parsley then the lentils.
- Next pour in the vegetable broth and add the bay leaf. Stir well, cover the pot and simmer under medium-low heat for 20 minutes or just until the lentils begin to soften.
- Once lentils have softened, add the chopped tomatoes and mix well, cover the pot again and simmer another 10 to 15 minutes. You want the tomato to soften. Taste the soup and add more salt if necessary. Allow to cool slightly before serving.
- Serve as a main dish or as a side dish. Some Mexicans like to drizzle lime juice over their soup. Others like to serve with a bolillo or Mexican roll. Enjoy
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Nancy Lopez is a food blogger and author of the cookbook Mexican Tamales Made Meatless. Born in Mexico, raised in the US, and currently living in Southern Mexico, she has followed a meatless diet for almost 10 years. It is her passion and mission to share all she has learned about vegan Mexican cooking and vegetarian Mexican recipes. Mexican Made Meatless is a blog dedicated to preserving the authentic flavors of Mexican cuisine just without the meat. It’s a place to celebrate Mexican culture and all it’s delightfully delicious traditional foods. Read more…