This Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup is a great way to warm up on a chilly day. Not only is it totally delicious, but it's also easy to make and full of nutrients!
Easy soup recipes are essential to have on hand during the transitional autumn months.
This pumpkin and red lentil soup recipe will be a great addition to your rotation. It freezes well and also comes together quickly in the kitchen. It's a hearty soup with nutritious ingredients such as aromatic warming spices, savory pumpkin, and earthy red lentils.
Red lentils are a great protein-rich food that is a great addition to your diet. Not only are they budget-friendly, but they're also tasty. If you've never tried lentils but like beans, you'll love these too!
One great thing about lentils is they absorb the flavors of whatever they're cooked into. They go particularly well with southwest-style flavors like chili powder and cumin.
- Why This Recipe Works
- What are lentils?
- Are lentils good for you?
- How To Make The Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
- Tips for Making the Best Pumpkin Lentil Soup
- Soup Pot Recommendations
- How to Serve
- FAQ Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
- Bread Recommendations
- Southwestern Vegetable Soup with Pumpkin and Lentils
Why This Recipe Works
The best thing about this pumpkin and lentil soup is the flavors. This is a Southwest-style soup, so not only do you have the red lentils, black beans, and pumpkin, but you also have the smokiness of southwest spices.
This soup doesn't contain meat or dairy, so it's a vegan and vegetarian-friendly recipe. It's also gluten-free.
This soup is excellent for meal prep. It's simple to reheat, and I think it tastes even better the next day!
Lentils are very budget-friendly. It can be expensive to eat healthy, but lentils make that easy, with a 1-pound bag costing less than $2.
- Olive oil- This is used for sauteing the celery, onion, and garlic. Any neutral oil can be substituted, but I like olive oil.
- Celery- This is always a staple in my soup-making. It adds flavor and texture to each bite.
- Onions- Another must-have in soups. It's aromatic and serves as an excellent base flavor.
- Fresh Garlic- Of course, garlic. Always garlic. It's a sweet, mellow flavor that adds depth to the soup base.
- Black beans- You can use other beans, but I love black beans. They're filling, full of iron and antioxidants. Feel free to use pinto beans or kidney beans.
- Rotel- Rotel is a can of diced tomatoes, seasonings, and chopped peppers. It's a great way to add bulk to soups and casseroles. Rotel comes in mild, original, and spicy. I prefer the original because it adds just a little heat to the dish without being too strong.
- Red Lentils- Lentils are a legume and, in my opinion, an underutilized ingredient. They're easy to flavor and give recipes a hearty taste. You can use brown or green lentils as an alternative, with minimal effect on the final recipe.
- Pumpkin Puree- This will add full-bodied flavor and creaminess to the soup.
- Vegetable Broth- You can use veggie, chicken, or beef broth. If you like using beef bone broth in soups as I do, I have a great post all about pressure cooker bone broth if you are interested.
- Ground Chili Powder- For Southwestern spice, this is a must. It's a blend of cayenne pepper and other dried ground peppers that add smokiness and a hint of spice to the dish.
- Ground Cumin- Another classic flavor essential to southwestern dishes. Ground cumin is made from dried and toasted cumin seeds. It tastes earthy and warm and helps adds depth to the dish.
- Black pepper and salt- Always a must. These elevate the entire dish by enhancing the existing flavors.
- Ground Oregano- This adds a herbaceous element to the soup, which balances the cumin and chili powder.
- Cilantro- Chopped cilantro adds a fresh element to the soup and makes the perfect garnish.
What are lentils?
There are a lot of healthy veggies in this soup, but let's talk about the lentils. You may be wondering what lentils are and if red lentils are good for you.
So, what exactly is a lentil anyway? They are legumes meaning they're in the same family as chickpeas and beans. Lentils are known as pulses, which means they are the edible seed from the legume plant.
Lentils come in different color varieties, such as brown, green, and red.
Are lentils good for you?
Lentils are an excellent addition to your meal and have many health benefits.
They are a great source of protein containing about 12 grams in just ½ cup of cooked lentils.
Combined with a whole grain, they make a complete protein, meaning the meal will have the amino acids needed to make a high-quality protein supplement equivalent to meat- which is pretty impressive!
In addition to their protein benefits, lentils are also low in fat and high in many vitamins and minerals, such as iron, folate, zinc, and calcium.
How To Make The Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
This delicious soup is simple to throw together. First, I start by warming olive oil in a large dutch oven over medium heat.
Then, add the onions and celery. Sauté until they are fragrant and softened. This will only take about 3-5 minutes, and the flavor is worth it. If you add all the ingredients together without forming layers, you'll miss out on building flavors, and the soup won't have as much depth.
Add the garlic and saute for 30-60 seconds until fragrant. It cooks quickly, so keep an eye on it.
Add in the remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Allow the soup to cook for 25-35 minutes. When done, the lentils should be soft and tender. This is a thick soup. However, If you're finding that your soup is too thick, you may need to add additional water to finish cooking the veggies and lentils.
Make sure to stir occasionally to avoid burning on the bottom.
That is it! Now sit back and enjoy. Top your soup with fresh cilantro and a choice of shredded cheese, sour cream, and diced red onions.
Tips for Making the Best Pumpkin Lentil Soup
Use your favorite stock- I used veggie stock for this recipe. You can also use chicken stock if you prefer. The stock base is super important, so make sure it's something you enjoy the taste of it.
Stir frequently- You will need to stir this soup regularly when you are cooking it. Pumpkins and lentils tend to burn quickly if you aren't watching them.
To reheat- Simply throw the soup in the microwave for a few minutes, or heat it on the cooktop stove. Be sure to stir frequently to avoid center cold spots and burning.
Adjust the flavors-As always, adjust the seasoning and garnishes to your liking.
How to use fresh pumpkin in this soup
Have a fresh pumpkin on hand? It is pumpkin season, after all.
I used canned pumpkin in this soup to save time. If you want to cook your own, it's easier than you think. You'll need a sugar pumpkin. These are smaller and softer than jack o lantern pumpkins. They are much tastier for cooking.
You can do this in two ways:
Option 1: You can roast the pumpkin and make a puree. To roast it, cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast at 400 degrees until tender. Next, scoop out the flesh and place it into a food processor. Blend for 60 seconds or until completely smooth.
Option 2: You can add it directly to the soup. The next way is you can peel the pumpkin, cut it into small cubes, and cook them in the soup. Or, cook those cubes on their own in vegetable stock, puree them, and add them to the soup.
Soup Pot Recommendations
The best soup pots have a thick, heavy bottom. These pots absorb heat and distribute it more evenly for even cooking. Personally, I love my Lodge Cast Iron Dutch Oven and highly recommend it! It is an enameled cast iron that holds and distributes heat well.
If you're using a cast iron dutch oven, be sure to use wooden or silicone utensils to avoid scratching off the protective surface of your pot.
How to Serve
This soup tastes delicious with a variety of toppings. You can add grated cheese, sour cream, cilantro, onions, and crushed red pepper- the choice is yours!
For side dishes, I served ours with charred tortillas, and I love them with this.
FAQ Pumpkin and Red Lentil Soup
I used red lentils in this soup, but I have also used green and brown lentils. Green lentils hold their shape better, so you can see them more in the soup.
As far as flavor goes, any lentil works well with the recipe. The change in lentils does not affect the taste at all. Those strong southwest spices kind of take over a bit!
Yes, this soup freezes great! This soup can be frozen for up to 2 months in an airtight container. A great way to freeze soup is to place it into a gallon freezer ziplock bag and allow it to freeze completely flat. This will cut down on thawing time and take up less freezer space.
You can separate it into smaller ziplock freezer bags for more individual-sized servings. Thaw your frozen soup in the refrigerator overnight or in a sink of cool water for 10-15 minutes, then reheat it in the microwave or on the stove.
Sure! You can also use butternut squash if you like. It will add sweetness and creaminess like the pumpkin but is more readily available fresh year-round than the pumpkin is.
Microwaving the soup is the easiest way to reheat it. I recommend microwaving in 1-2 minute increments and stirring between sets to avoid a cold center and boiling sides.
If you prefer to heat it on the cooktop, that is great too. Just make sure to reheat on low heat, cover the pot, and occasionally stir so it won't burn on the bottom of the pan.
- Jalapeno Cheddar Cornbread
- Green Onion and Gruyere Biscuits
- Honey Oatmeal Bread
- Multigrain Bread
- Parker House Rolls
Southwestern Vegetable Soup with Pumpkin and Lentils
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 cup chopped celery I used a large size on mine, but if you prefer a smaller dice, do that
- 1 cup chopped onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 15 ounce cans black beans, drained
- 2 15 ounce cans rotel
- 1 cup dried red lentils You really can use any lentil you have on hand.
- 1 ½ cup pumpkin puree
- 4 cups vegetable stock
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- ½ teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon salt You may need to add more after the soup has cooked and reduced. Don't add it until the end though. Also, if you stock is pretty salty, reduce this salt to ½ teaspoon.
- 1 cup chopped cilantro plus extra for topping
- Heat olive oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Once it has heated, add celery and onions. Saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until slightly tender. Add in garlic and cook another minute.
- Add in remaining ingredients and continue to cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, for about 25-35 minutes.
- Now, depending on the actual temp of your cooktop, you may be running hotter than mine. If this is the case, you might need to add in more water at some point. If this happens, add in 2 cups and continue to cook until the veggies and lentils are tender.
- After the soup has been cooked, test for seasoning. If you need to add more.
- You can serve this soup just like it is. You can top with cilantro, grated cheese, red onions, sour cream, or whatever you are into. We also served our soup with charred tortillas. If you aren't into this, you can always do bread or crackers.
- I used canned pumpkin in this soup to save time. If you wanted to cook your own, you can do it in 2 ways. First, you can roast it yourself. Cut the pumpkin in half, scoop out the seeds, and roast at 400 degrees until tender.
- The next way is you can peel the pumpkin, cut it into small cubes, and cook it in the soup. Or, cook those cubes on their own in veggies stock, puree, and add them to the soup.
- You can also use chicken stock if you want in this recipe. I used veggie stock as I was keeping this vegetarian.
- You will need to stir this soup on the regular when you are cooking it. Pumpkins and lentils will tend to burn if you aren't watching them.
- When you are reheating, simply throw it in the microwave for a few minutes, or heat it on the cooktop.