Red lentil and spinach soup

This is a perfect winter soup: warmly spiced, nicely herbed, and thickened by pureed red lentils so that it’s hearty and filling without getting heavy. Extra bonus: no need for a broth base. I add carrots and sweet potatoes to the basic soup puree because – let’s admit it – cooked red lentils have a disappointing color all on their own – they turn yellow when cooked, and I happen to love red, and would much rather not have to explain why a red lentil soup has no red. 


  • 2 ½ cups red split lentils
  • 10 cups water
  • 2 carrots, grated,
  • 1 sweet potato, grated
  • 2 tablespoons miso paste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 sweet onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 3 cups spinach leaves, chopped
  • ½ cup dill, finely chopped
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • Tiny sprinkle of cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Garnish: fresh dill or cilantro, chopped


  • Wash the lentils in a sieve with plenty of cold water. Place in a large pot with the water, bring to a boil, lower to a simmer, and cook about 25-30 minutes, until the lentils are soft.
  • Using a slotted spoon remove about half the lentils from the pot and set aside.
  • Add the grated carrots and grated sweet potatoes to the lentil and water pot, and continue to simmer for about 5 more minutes. Remove from heat.
  • Add the miso paste to the pot, and with an immersion blender process until smooth.
  • In another large pot, on medium-high heat, sauté the onions in olive oil until soft and golden. Add the garlic and sauté one more minute. Add the spinach, dill, cumin, paprika and cayenne pepper, and sauté until the spinach wilts.
  • Add to the onion pot the lentil, carrot and sweet potato puree and the boiled, unprocessed lentils you set aside, and simmer for about 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  • Taste and correct seasoning.
  • Garnish with a spinkle of herbs and serve with a nice loaf of bread. 

Enjoy! Dr. Ayala