Vegan Soup For The Soul: Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill

Though it’s almost June, many days I am making soups as we are having some cool and damp spells.  Those of you that have been with me for a while know that I love soups.  LOVE.  For a few reasons…

(1) They are usually easy and quick to make.

(2) Typically the batches are large so you can refrigerate or freeze some for another lunch or dinner.

(3) They are the perfect vehicle for getting in the most nutrient-dense ingredients, like legumes, vegetables, and grains.

Not only do soups make it easy to get a healthy and delicious meal on the table, they are deeply comforting and pleasing to the senses.  There is something very soul-enriching in making and eating soups.  The chopping and prep calms my mind, the simmering of the stew fills the house with aromatics, and there is a feeling of ‘plenty’ to see a large pot of soup waiting to be eaten on the stove. Indeed, soups are soul-satisfying. So much for me that I my soups chapter in LTEV is called Vegan Soup for the Soul. :)

And, most often our whole family enjoys soups and stews.  Except when our girls detect pieces of bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and the most dreaded – whole spices!  The mood drifts from calm to mildly irksome as I watch them picking out one piece of onion, then red pepper, then cumin seed – and on.  Drives me banonkers.  (Kid-approved vocab, no need to call me on it.)

I made this Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill from LTEV recently, and was SO surprised by our daughter’s reaction when I served it.  Went something like this:

Daughter:  What soup are we having tonight?

Me: I’m not sure if you remember this one, I haven’t made it for a while – have a taste.

Daughter: Yum, I LOVE this soup, this is the soup you made on New Year’s Eve!

That would be New Year’s Eve TWO years ago!  I was shocked she remembered it, particularly because I hadn’t given it a quirky name like “Sniffle Soup” – which they know very well.  But, their friends joined us that year on New Year’s and when I asked her how she remembered, she said “oh, I remember this soup because we all brought it downstairs and had it with that yummy bread and everyone loved it“.  We remember the food we love and memories are created, apparently even as wee ones.

Another food we love is cashew cheese.  For this version, I added fresh herbs and a just a couple of sun-dried tomatoes (one of the suggestions in the Truffled Cashew Cheese - recipe is in Let Them Eat Vegan).

Doesn’t the cheese look thick and rich and savory?  It is.  And, this bread is magnificent!  It is a gluten-free bread that I bought at a local shop – Antony and Sons.  It is made with coconut flour, and if I recall it has no yeast and also no oil. Yet, it isn’t dry and crumbly as some gf breads can be.

I share this soup with you today, because maybe it’s a little chilly where you are too… or maybe because you’d like to create a few new soup memories.  And, for the picky-poos in your house, they won’t notice ANY of the whole spices or veggies.  Trust me.  (Or at least, trust your beloved immersion blender!)

Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill gluten-free, soy-free, nut-free, oil-free   

ReciPage link to print/share

This soup may surprise you. Looking at it, you wouldn’t think it is as delicious as it is! The flavors are not aggressive, but meld in such a way that keeps you coming back for just one more ladleful.

splash of water

1 1/2 cups onion, chopped

3/4 cup celery, chopped

½ cup carrots, chopped

4 large cloves garlic

2 ½ cups white potato, peeled and chopped (OR 1 1/2 cups cooked brown rice, added later, see note)

1 – 1  ½  cups cauliflower, chopped

½ tsp cumin seeds

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp dill seeds

1 tsp dry mustard

1 tsp sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups red lentils, rinsed

2 cups vegetable stock

3 ½ – 4 cups water (more if using cooked rice, see note)

1 bay leaf (optional)

1 can (28 oz) crushed or diced tomatoes

2-3 tbsp fresh dill, finely chopped

Heat the water in a large pot over medium or medium- high heat. Add the onion, celery, carrot, garlic, potato (if using), cauliflower, cumin seeds, ground cumin, dill seeds, dry mustard, salt, and pepper. Stir, cover, and cook for 8 to 9 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Add the lentils, stock, 3 1⁄2 cups of the water, and the bay leaf. Bring the mixture to a boil, then lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes, until the lentils have cooked through and are softened. Then, add the tomatoes (and brown rice, if using instead of potato), and turn off the heat. Remove the bay leaf, and using an immersion blender, puree the soup until completely smooth. Turn on the heat again to medium-high, and cook the soup for another 5 or more minutes to heat through (you can return the bay leaf to the soup or not).  Once reheated, stir in the fresh dill, remove the bay leaf, and serve, sprinkling with extra fresh dill, if desired (chives or green onions are also nice addition, as pictured).  Serves 6 or more.

Savvy Subs and Adds: If you have leftover cooked brown rice, it substitutes well for the white potato. Simply omit the potato, and add the cooked rice later in the cooking process, along with the canned tomatoes.

Serving Suggestions: Try with a large Classic Caesar Salad, topped with Brazil Nut Parmezan.

Recipe from Let Them Eat Vegan.

I most love making soups with beans… lots and lots of beans!  What are your top-picks when making soups, and do you have a favorite soup recipe?

28 Responses to Vegan Soup For The Soul: Tomato Lentil Soup with Cumin and Fresh Dill

  1. Heather says:

    I cannot say enough about this soup. There is so much flavor in it and it is by far the best soup I have ever tried!! I can’t wait to make it again, I was going to make more the very day I ran out but was out of veggie broth.

  2. Julie says:

    Great soup! We just made this for lunch today. Love the addition of dill!

  3. Julie says:

    This is the soup I have been waiting for my whole life. I will be home in 1 week, and I am making it THEN! Thank you Dreena!!! It looks AMAZING and I love the ingredients. :)

  4. Hi Dreena, Thank you for sharing this lovely soup online. I shared my version of it today:
    janet @ the taste space recently posted..Tomato Red Lentil Soup with DillMy Profile

  5. Lorna says:

    Oh boy was this good! I followed this link from the McDougall boards and this was a huge hit with my family! I used the rice and no oil and it was fabulous! Thanks for posting this and I am going to subscribe so I can get more recipes!

  6. ally says:

    i am always looking for a new soup recipe & yours here has just topped my to do list!

  7. myfudo says:

    LOve that this is soy free…My daughter cannot have anything with soy in it. Thanks a lot for sharing.

    • Dreena says:

      Glad to help – most of my recipes are bean, grain, or nut/seed based rather than soy. I try to give alternatives for folks even when I do use soy. Hope you enjoy. :)

  8. Eva says:


    You are our favorite chef! We have cooked from many vegan/vegetarian cookbooks, and your recipes are the very best! We have made recipes from Eat Drink and Be Vegan and just got your new book as well. I recommend you to everyone.

    I made this soup recipe on Sunday – oh, I LOVE this soup! I froze several portions so that we can have easy week-night dinners.

    I hope you have a book signing in the San Francisco area – I want to meet you.

    • Dreena says:

      Oh Eva, thank you! That is quite a compliment for me, as there are so many talented vegan chefs and cooks with exceptional cookbooks. And, really delighted that you love this particular soup as well. What fun it would be to meet you too!! My publisher doesn’t have the budget for a book tour for me, so not sure when/if I will get to San Fran… but, I sure appreciate the welcoming vibes. I hope to keep bringing you much food love!! <3

  9. jennP says:

    I just made this soup tonight and oh my goodness it is delicious!! (as all your recipes seem to be). It is very rich and creamy. My husband is not really fond of soups, so i used a portion of it as sauce for his pasta dish!
    I have your 4 books and have been making recipes from them at least 4 days a week!! :) I take one book with me to work daily and decide what to make that week. Keep up the culinary awesomeness!!

  10. Lorii Abela says:

    This looks really great. Thanks for the recipe!..

  11. Katie O says:

    This soup is awesome! Although the calendar says June, up here in the upper left hand corner of the map it is still cool. I made this soup today substituting 1/2 cup brown rice for the potatoes. It came out wonderfully thick, rich and so tasty that my non-vegan husband helped himself to seconds. Very easy to toss together but special enough for company.

    • Dreena says:

      Glad to hear it, Katie! My husband really loves this soup too, goes back for seconds, thirds… :) Lovely to hear your feedback!

  12. oh my gosh that looks so delicious! that color!! so vibrant and fun! i can’t wait to try this recipe! thanks for sharing!

  13. JULIE says:

    This soup is delicious! I didn’t have cumin seeds or bay leaf and it was still so good. That’s one of the many things I love about your soup recipes, you can leave some things out and sub with others if needed and they are always winners. We eat soup every season of the year. It’s a perfect way for our 3 year old (and us) to get lots of veggies and nutrition in one delicous bowl. Thanks for all the wonderful soup recipes – yours are featured at our house every week!

    • Dreena says:

      Thank you so much Julie! What a treat to read, I’m so pleased your family enjoys many of my soup recipes… I’ll keep ‘em coming! Thanks for the note. :)

  14. Marsha says:

    This soup looks great, Dreena! I too am a HUGE fan of soups even in 100 degree weather we have here! I eat inside with the A/C on. :) A couple questions though. I love chunky soups, does this work without pureeing completely. And I’m always in a hurry, have you made this in a crockpot before? Thanks much!

    • Dreena says:

      Me too Marsha, soup really is for all seasons! For sure, you don’t have to puree this through if you prefer it more chunky. Also, sometimes I part-puree. Just put in the stick blender and puree in spots. That way it keeps some texture, but adds some creaminess too. I haven’t made this in a crockpot. I’m sure it would work okay though, it seems crock-friendly! Do you do much crockpot cooking?

      • Marsha says:

        I try to in the summer. That way I’m not slaving over the stove when it’s over 100 degrees outside. Eek! I was good with eat when I was a meat eater, now I’m learning all over again. :) Lentils seem to work well using a crockpot. Thanks!!

  15. Audrey says:

    This sounds fantastic, Dreena! I’ve added it to me “to-make” list from LTEV. I love how your daughter has such fond memories of this soup. :) Oh, and that cashew cheese is definitely calling my name!

    P.S. Your photos are looking great lately!!

    • Dreena says:

      OHHHH, thanks a bunch for noting that Audrey! I’m using a new camera for my photos, and working hard to learn more and bring the yum factor to the screen. I wondered if it was coming through at all – thank you for that feedback. :D

  16. Bethany says:

    Hi Dreena! I am SO with you about “sneaking” so much nutrition into soups in order to feed my son! He also happens to love soups, which is a bonus :)

    My favorite soup ever – hands down – is your Sweet Potato and Lentil Chili from EDBV. I can’t even tell you how many times I have made this. It is PERFECT! I have fed it to countless people, including PICKY omnis, and everyone loves it. Actually, you are my go-to soup person! Out of all the cookbooks I have, I have made your soups more than anyone else’s, by a landslide. One Wild Chick Soup, Moroccan Bean Stew, Mellow Lentil Sniffle Soup..I make these time and again. You may be the “Cookie Queen,” but in my house, you’re also the “Yummy Soup Queen!” :)

    • Audrey says:

      Totally agree–I love all of Dreena’s fabulous soup combinations. :)

    • Dreena says:

      Bethany, that is SO wonderful to know, thank you!! I love that sweet potato chili too, so I’m glad it’s a hit in your home as well. And, I’m quite happy having more than one crown… one for cookies, one for soups… maybe another for beans… ;)

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