Tuesday, April 23, 2024 Apr 23, 2024
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The Most Customizable Lentil Soup Recipe You’ll Ever Need

Cooks Without Borders’ Leslie Brenner shares her no-fail, clean-out-the-fridge lentil recipe that’s perfect for any night of the week.
Leslie Brenner

Never underestimate the adaptability of a good lentil soup. It’s the sort of meal—yes, meal not appetizer—that does a lot: it’s hearty without being heavy, it helps clean out the fridge or pantry, it’s easy to whip up on a weeknight when you have absolutely no idea what to make. It’s versatile. (Toss in the sad-looking greens in the crisper drawer! Use up those pliant stalks of celery and carrot sticks!) And that’s what I love about this recipe from Leslie Brenner.

Brenner founded her gastronomic website, Cooks Without Borders, in 2016. Since then, the award-winning writer and former journalist (Dallas Morning News, the Los Angeles Times) has logged recipes from a wide breadth of cuisines. Today, she’s sharing one with SideDish.

While the weather rebounds from a cold stretch, we know we’re undeniably in soup weather still. (Don’t let the warmth of a 70-degree day fool you.) That makes Super-Warming Green Lentil and Baby Kale Soup the ideal weeknight recipe. “To me, just making it is soothing, and eating it is, too, of course,” says Brenner. “This soup is what’s therapeutic about cooking. It makes your kitchen smell so good—and it’s good for you.”

Not only that, promises Brenner, “You can’t screw it up.” Hey, un-screw-up-able is how I like to cook! You can’t fail in the kitchen if you’re riffing on a recipe like it’s a jazz solo.


Super-Warming Green Lentil and Baby Kale Soup

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large or 3 medium carrots, sliced or roughly chopped
2 celery stalks, diced
6 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
2 bay leaves
2 or 3 branches of thyme
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
2 cups (14 ounces) green lentils, rinsed
1 14.5-ounce can of chopped tomatoes, including their liquid
2 1/2 to 3 cups baby kale leaves (about half a 5-ounce cello pack), or whatever tender greens you’ve got
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1. Heat the olive oil in a soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots and celery and sauté till the onion is soft and translucent, about 6 minutes. Stir in the garlic, bay leaves and thyme and cook another two minutes or so. Stir in the turmeric and coriander and let cook another two minutes or so. 

2. Add the lentils and the tomatoes (including their liquid), along with 7 cups of water and stir to combine. Bring to a simmer, uncovered, over medium-high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low and let simmer about half an hour to 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender (if they’re tender before half an hour is up, let it simmer the whole half hour. If it’s getting too thick, you can add another cup of water). 

3. Remove the thyme branches and bay leaves and stir in the kale, along with the salt and cayenne pepper. Let it cook 10 or 15 minutes (it’s ready when it’s delicious). Adjust seasoning and serve.


Rosin Saez

Rosin Saez

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Rosin Saez is the online dining editor for D Magazine's food blog SideDish. She hails from Seattle, Washington, where she…

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