5 tips & reasons to eat more lentils + curried lentil soup {RECIPE}

5 tips & reasons for eating more lentils + a recipe for vegan curried lentil soup // bring-joy.com #vegan

I know I haven’t talked about our debt snowball in awhile (in fact, it’s been a year since our last update).

But, we nevertheless are chugging away, inching closer (albeit at what seems like a snail’s pace) to our debt-free goal (spring 2016!).

One of the biggest hurdles has been keeping food expenses low. 

(You know how I’ve tinkered with the grocery budget over the years–sometimes ridicuously, naively so.)

Now that we live in Okinawa, many of the foods that we were able to get rather cheaply in the states either are no longer an option (cauliflower, broccoli, jicama, chard) or are crazy expensive (watermelon is anywhere from $10-$15 PER melon, potatoes are about $8 for a small bag). And of course, I can longer rely on Costco for bulk, organic produce at a reasonable price (though all of the local produce here is non-GMO because GMO crops aren’t allowed here–win!).

We do much of our shopping at the Commissary (the military grocery store on base) where we can get American goods & use coupons, & do the rest at our neighborhood Japanese grocer & vegetable stand.

I’ve discovered there are certain foods that are inexpensive & so we’re going to be focusing on those while we’re stationed here.

For produce, namely–cabbage, onions, peppers, garlic, & bananas.

For pantry items–rice & legumes, canned tomatoes.

{5 ways we slashed our groceries to under $500/month}

Of course there’s plenty of other foods we buy to stock our fridge & freezer, but I’m beginning to see why rice & beans (& here, tofu, which is pretty inexpensive & I can buy it fresh), onions & garlic, cabbage & peppers tend to be staples of so-called peasant food all around the world. They do the job & are extremely affordable.

As my kids get older the more I realize how important focusing on these frugal, healthy staples are.

My boys already eat a lot, & I’m bracing myself for the teenage years (which aren’t too far away), where I know they will be eating double the amount that they eat now.

I think paleo & raw food diet are unsustainable for a variety of reasons (not to mention they are anti-beans, anti-grains–which for most people, is completely unnecessary), but my number one problem with the diet is–IT IS TOO FLIPPIN’ EXPENSIVE. I couldn’t imagine trying to feed my family of 7 a paleo or all raw diet. My family requires somewhere in the ballpark of 14,000 calories a day. Do you know how expensive it is to buy that many calories in fruits, veggies, nuts/seeds, &/or in the case of paleo, meat??

But I digress. This post is about LENTILS!

Let’s talk about why you should eat more lentils.*

5 tips & reasons for eating more lentils + a vegan curried lentil soup recipe // bring-joy.com #vegan

5 tips & reasons why you should eat lentils

  1. You want to save money, right?
    Eat more lentils.

    Lentils are frugal–they are one of the cheapest, healthiest sources of protein (8 grams per 70 calorie serving). They are chock full of fiber (9 g per 70 calorie serving, compared to 0 grams in any & all animal foods).

    I recently stocked up on lentils–$1.15 per 1 lb. bag (with a coupon) at the Commissary. I can make a pot of lentil soup using one bag + a few dollars worth of onions, carrots, spices, & diced tomatoes that will yield enough soup for 2-3 meals for my family, plus extra for lunches.

    Lentils, as with all beans, are sort of the no brainer for frugal eating.

    {Another way we save money is through meal planning. Check out my 28 day meal plan, here. 100% vegan & gluten-free.}

  2. You want to save time in the kitchen, don’t you?
    Well then, eat more lentils.

    They are, of all the legume family, the quickest to prepare (less than 30 minutes, & no soaking).

  3. Lentils aren’t just for soup!

    They are pretty versatile. Use them in soups yes, but they can also be seasoned & used as an accompaniment to rice, in a loaf (like my savory lentil loaf), or in salad (like my roasted cauliflower & lentil salad w/ lemon dill dressing). You can also sprout lentils too (just use regular brown lentils) to add some protein & crunch to your salads.

    A pretty typical lunch for me–rice, lentils (which was just leftover soup, minus the broth), sliced tomato, & some (healthy!) coleslaw ↓
    5 tips & reasons for eating more lentils + a vegan curried lentil soup recipe // bring-joy.com #vegan

  4. You want to eat nutrient dense foods?
    Well then, eat more lentils.

    Lentils, while high in protein, are also chock full of other good stuff, particularly iron (15% of your daily value per 70 calorie serving–1/4 cup dry) & fiber (9, yes 9 grams per 1/4 cup dry lentils). Lentils are also good sources of folate, manganese, potassium magnesium, zinc, & copper.

  5. Wait, you’ve never tried lentils before???

    I realize I live in my own little happy plant-based bubble, one where things like almond butter, hummus, quinoa & buckwheat are commonplace items in my kitchen. So, I realize that lentils, at least for many Americans are one of those “I have no idea what to do with” kind of foods for many people.

    Never fear, I am here to show you yet another no-fail, super simple tasty lentil soup recipe. It is so easy that I don’t use measurements (though I give you some) & as long as you follow these simple directions, you can’t mess up (promise)!

    A good classic lentil soup recipe is so essential to a homecook’s arsenal of recipes.

    When I was a newlywed (about 11 years ago), I had a cookbook given to me as a wedding present that I used all the time. I no longer have the book (I think it was given away once I went vegan) & I don’t remember most of the recipes, but I do remember the soft sugar cookie recipe (before I had kids, I would make Joseph cookies nearly every other day–talk about pampered!) & the German lentil soup recipe. The lentil soup recipe called for ground beef & a tablespoon of vinegar. I don’t remember much else, other than Joseph & I loved it so much we ate it at least once week.

    My own lentil soup recipe is, to be honest, a different variation on the same thing every time. A good, hearty broth (I use Better than Boullion vegetable base), lots of onions & garlic, some carrots, a can of diced tomatoes, & a mesh of seasonings. Sometimes I’ll add quinoa (like in the recipe below), or extra protein, like sliced veggie dogs (a kid fave).

    We make lentil soup often for all of the reasons stated above, but I have failed to mention probably the most important reason–we make it & eat it often because…it tastes good!

    Everyone, including my pickiest eaters love this curried lentil soup recipe (though the tomato hater always picks out the chunks of tomatoes).

    {6 tips for feeding picky plant-based kids}


    Curried Lentil Soup Recipe VEGAN

5.0 from 2 reviews
curried lentil quinoa soup
Recipe type: soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 24 servings
a hearty, savory, protein rich lentil soup
  • 1 lb. lentils--or 1 bag
  • ¾ c. uncooked quinoa--OPTIONAL
  • 1-2 onions diced
  • 2-4 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 2-3 TBS. extra virgin olive oil--OPTIONAL
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 small can tomato sauce or tomato paste
  • 1 bay leaf--OPTIONAL
  • 1 TBS. mild curry powder
  • 2 tsp. cumin
  • ½ TBS. onion powder
  • 1 tsp. paprika
  • 1 TBS. organic no-salt seasoning &/OR ½ TBS. salt
  • 1 TBS. Better than Boullion vegetable base or equivalent
  • few dashes red pepper sauce/Tabasco OR 1 TBS. SRIRACHA (adds heat)
  • fresh ground pepper
  • freshly chopped parsley--OPTIONAL
  1. First off, just as a side note, the bay leaf & cumin help soften the lentils & makes them more digestable. So don't omit these, if possible.
  2. Heat oil in large pot on medium heat. If omitting oil, have about ½ cup water handy.
  3. Dice onions, mince garlic.
  4. Add onions & garlic to pot, stirring occasionally. Saute for 3-4 minutes on medium heat, or until translucent. If omitting oil, add 1 tablespoon of water as needed to prevent sticking to the pot. I myself find a little olive oil brings out the flavor of the onions & garlic better, but no worries if you're going without. It will still be tasty!
  5. Peel carrots & cut into half moons or dice.
  6. Add carrots to pot & saute for 1 minute.
  7. Rinse lentils & quinoa in a small sieve or colander. Add lentils & quinoa to the pot. Cover the lentils with water--add enough water so that the water fills the pot about ⅔-3/4 full. You don't need to be exact here--this is the beauty of soup!
  8. Add cumin, paprika, curry powder, onion powder, bay leaf, & no-salt seasoning.
  9. Bring water to boil, then turn down to medium (or medium low) & simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  10. Add tomatoes & sauce or paste, along with Better than Boullion, salt, ground pepper, & red pepper sauce.
  11. Remove the bay leaf.
  12. If you'd like, add freshly chopped parsley to taste, stir in, & serve.
  13. Leftovers keep for up to a week in a tightly sealed container, or freeze leftovers for up to 3 months.
  14. OPTIONAL ADD-INS: ½ cup TVP (textured vegetable protein) (add to the soup 10 minutes into lentils cooking time, increase salt by ½ tsp); 2-3 veggie dogs, sliced.
Additional Nutrition Info: 3 WWP points per serving; nutrition info is calculated using 3 tablespoons oil.
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/24 of recipe Calories: 143 Fat: 1.8 g Carbohydrates: 24 g Sugar: 1.6 g Sodium: 297 mg Fiber: 6.5 g Protein: 8 g

Other bring joy lentil recipes:

*When I posted on Facebook a few days ago about lentils, one bring joy reader pointed out that lentils don’t agree with her. I’m wondering if you also experience issues with lentils as well? If so, do you still eat them? Share in comments below! xo


→ Recipes my kids love + the meal planning system we use to save time & money (all vegan + gluten-free), here.
Simple ecookbook + 28 day meal plan -- SAVE 30%


  1. Jeanette
    on September 28, 2015 at 11:42 pm said:

    I have been dreaming of making lentil soup recently so this post is so timely 🙂 I am also trying to figure out how to make the lentil soup I get at the Lebanese restaurant by my work…I think I taste a bit of cumin, lemon and olive oil. Does anyone know any great lentil soups with these flavors? I typically make a French style lentil soup but am trying to branch out a bit. The recipe above also sounds yummy and something I want to try soon. . thank you for sharing

  2. Heather@ASpoonfulofHealth
    on September 24, 2015 at 10:52 pm said:

    Lentils are my new obsession, especially as someone on a budget! As a vegan, I have a hard time with beans, so lentils and peas are my two number one favorites! Love this recipe, and especially your approach to healthy eating on a budget!:)

    • Janae Wise
      on September 24, 2015 at 11:00 pm said:

      Thanks Heather, I too am a fan of peas, & I especially love when I can get them raw! Yes, I am definitely on a mission to dispel the notion that eating vegan is expensive!!

      • Heather@ASpoonfulofHealth
        on September 24, 2015 at 11:46 pm said:

        I love raw green peas myself;) That’s great, the more of us there are, the better! Thanks for all your blog posts on frugal vegan eating, I will definitely share! Cheers<3