This delicious Mexican Lentil Soup is hearty, slightly spicy, and full of flavor. It's made with creamy lentils, tomatoes, jalapenos, spinach, and zucchini. This vegetarian soup is healthy, nutritious, and such a fun twist on traditional lentil soup.
This Mexican Lentil Soup brings together two of my favorite things - traditional lentil soup and deliciously spicy Mexican soup recipes. It's one of those dishes that tastes amazing and is also super good for you. My whole family gobbles it up.
Sopa de lentejas is a classic dish in Mexican cooking. It's usually prepared very similarly to traditional American lentil soup with creamy lentils cooked with onions, garlic, and many times ham or bacon.
However, a few weeks back we went out for Mexican and had the most delicious spicy lentil soup that was made with Mexican flavors and spices. It was served with lots of fresh cilantro, lime juice, sliced avocado, and some shredded cheese.
I have been thinking about it ever since and knew I needed to recreate it at home.
The base of this lentil soup is similar to most recipes but then it gets some Mexican flavor from jalapenos, chili powder, green chilies, fresh cilantro, and lime juice. It's so good!
Why You'll Love Mexican Lentil Soup
There are so many reasons to love this soup!
- Budget-friendly: Lentils are a super affordable ingredient that is hearty, filling, and nutritious.
- Easy to customize: Make this soup as spicy as you like and add all your favorite toppings.
- Hearty and nutritious: Lentils are high in fiber, a great source of plant-based protein, and packed with vitamins and antioxidants.
Ingredients and Substitutions
Here is everything you need to make this Mexican-inspired Lentil Soup.
- Lentils: This soup comes out best with dried brown or green lentils. Red lentils and yellow lentils will become very soft and break down in the soup.
- Bell peppers: Any color of bell peppers can be used in this soup. For a more traditional soup flavor, swap in carrots and celery.
- Jalapeno: To add to the Mexican flavors in this soup, jalapenos add heat without being too spicy. Use more jalapenos if you like things spicy. If you prefer a smoky flavor, swap in canned chipotle peppers in adobo.
- Chili powder and cumin: Taking inspiration from other spicy soups, this soup uses chili powder and cumin. You could also add some smoked paprika for less spice.
- Diced tomatoes: Use a combination of diced tomatoes with green chilies and fire-roasted tomatoes for the best flavor. f you prefer to use all fire-roasted tomatoes, just add a can of diced green chilies or double up the jalapenos.
- Vegetable Broth: Any broth can be used in this soup including chicken broth or chicken bouillon.
- Vegetables: To add more flavor and nutrients to this soup, I like adding spinach and zucchini.
- Garnishes: Bring in more Mexican flavor with the garnishes. Cilantro and lime juice are essential. You can also add avocado, diced onions, tortilla chips, sour cream, or radishes.
How to Make Mexican Lentil Soup
This soup can be made on the stovetop, in the Instant Pot, or in the slow cooker.
- Stovetop: Saute the onions, bell peppers, jalapeno, and no, and garlic for 5-7 minutes until they begin to soften. Add the spices and stir. Then add the broth, tomatoes, and lentils. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes util the lentils are soft. Add the zucchini and spinach. Cook for 5 more minutes until softened. Season with salt and pepper as needed.
- Instant Pot: Saute the onions, garlic, pepper, and jalapeno until softened. Then add the spices and cook for one minute until fragrant. Add the remaining ingredients. Close the Instant Pot and cook on Manual mode for 15 minutes and let naturally release. Season with salt and pepper.
- Slow cooker: Start by sauteing the garlic, onions, and peppers in a skillet for about five minutes first until they begin to soften. Add those to the bottom of your slow cooker crock. Add the lentils, diced tomatoes with juice, broth, and spices. Cook this on low for about 4-5 hours or high for 2-3. Wait until the last hour of cooking to add in the spinach and zucchini so it doesn't get too soft. Follow that with the cooked brown rice and voila — dinner is served!
How to Serve Mexican Lentil Soup
There are lots of ways to serve this lentil soup, here are some of our favorites.
- Add cheese: Top with some queso fresco, queso cotija, or shredded cheese
- Add crunch: Top with some baked tortilla chips, tostada shells, or tortilla strips. You can also serve it with warmed corn tortillas.
- Healthy fats: Add sliced avocado or a dollop of guacamole. Many people like adding some Greek yogurt or sour cream as well.
- Protein: Add protein with some browned ground turkey, beef, or chicken. You can also add some sliced chicken or turkey sausage. Or add some shredded rotisserie chicken.
- Add beans: Sometimes we also like to add some black beans or pinto to this soup.
Side Dish Ideas
This dish has it all and is a full meal on its own, but we still like to add something on the side.
- Serve this with a Mexican Street Corn Salad or Mexican Chopped Salad.
- Grab some baked tortilla chips and guacamole
- Serve this on a bed of Mexican Cauliflower Rice.
- Instead of a traditional salad, serve this with Creamy Mexican Coleslaw.
How Do You Make Vegan Mexican Lentil Soup?
As luck would have it — this stuffed pepper soup is already vegan! There are no meat or animal products used in this dish whatsoever.
If you want a heartier taste in this soup, try adding 3-4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a yeast that is not active and tastes rather cheesy or nutty. It works great as a cheese substitute.
Just a couple of tablespoons will add a nice depth of flavor to this soup.
Frequently Asked Questions
Here are the most common questions about making this recipe.
Lentil soup is very healthy and packed with plant-based protein, fiber, and tons of nutrients. Lentils are naturally anti-inflammatory and filled with antioxidants.
The only time that lentil soup may not be as healthy is when it is made with large amounts of bacon, sausage, or hot dogs.
Unlike many beans, lentils do not require soaking. They can be cooked from dry in about 30-45 minutes, depending on the type of lentils you are preparing.
Mexican Lentil Soup
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- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 bell peppers, chopped
- 1 jalapeno, seeded and diced (more to taste, or 1-2 chipotle peppers)
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 14 oz. canned tomatoes with green chiles (with juice)
- 14 oz canned fire roasted tomatoes (with juice)
- 2 cup dry lentils, rinsed
- 6 cups vegetable broth
- 4 cups spinach
- 2 zucchini, chopped
- 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
- 2 limes (for serving)
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- Nutritional Information
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.
The Nutritional Values provided are estimates only and may vary based on the preparation method.
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