The weather outside is frightful….and soup sounds so delightful! These cold winter days are perfect for a steaming hot bowl of quinoa lentil soup. This tomato based soup is a hearty, filling, protein packed, and super flavorful meal that echoes the flavors of my famous Egyptian kushary! Nutritious lentils and quinoa simmer away in a delectable broth of tomatoes, onions, garlic, lemon, and cilantro. It can be easily prepared in an Instant Pot to save time and cook all legumes from scratch.
This quinoa lentil soup is actually inspired by kushary, a hearty and flavorful meal that is famous as Egyptian street food. Kushary is a classic comfort food comprised of cooked lentils, layered over a bed of rice, pasta, and garlic and topped with crispy onions and a spicy, zesty, garlicky, lemon-vinegar tomato sauce. It is a delicious bowl of comfort, and big on carbs. This soup has a similar flavor profile, but it is much lighter and made with more plant protein. I cut down the carbs by swapping out the rice for protein-packed quinoa, and kept the pasta minimal with little vermicelli noodles (sometimes I use orzo too). I even serve up this soup topped with crispy caramelized onions. This is such a treat!
I use dried chickpeas and lentils and cook them fresh. The flavor and bite is substantially improved and really does not compare to canned. If you have an Instant Pot, it is a cinch to prep the chickpeas. I usually cook 2-3 cups in advance for the week and I save them in the fridge or the freezer, depending how soon I will use them.
I only use green or brown lentils for this recipe. They cook instantly in 3 minutes in the instant pot. Red lentils do not work for this soup. They are actually shelled so they will cook down too quickly and become mushy in this recipe.
I love using quinoa in this soup instead of the rice that is in kushary. Quinoa has more of a bite to it and keeps its shape, even when you serve this soup a few days later. White or rainbow quinoa works in this recipe. When I add the quinoa, I turn the pot setting to saute, so that it is only simmering lightly. I simmer the quinoa for only 10 minutes so it does not become too soft. Of course, this can all be done in a regular pot. The lentils will just take a longer amount of time to cook.
The texture of these superfood grains simmering in the lemony tomato broth is so delicious! This soup is naturally vegan, plant-based, and can be gluten free. It is nothing short on flavor! I use a lot of lemon, onions, and garlic to reflect the flavor profile of kushary and its zesty tomato sauce. You can optionally kick up the soup a notch by sprinkling in some cayenne pepper too. Check out my video recipe to see how quick and easy this recipe is.Jump to Video
Quinoa Lentil Soup
- Instant Pot
- 1 c cooked or dry chickpeas See step 1 to cook the chickpeas in Instant Pot
- 4 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion half sliced, half diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced
- 1-2 tomatoes, diced
- 1 tbsp ground cumin
- 1 tbsp ground coriander
- 1 tbsp salt, more to taste
- 1 tsp black pepper
- 2 c strained tomatoes
- 3 c broth vegetable or chicken
- 4 c water, plus more as needed
- 1 tbsp corn starch
- 1 c lentils
- 1/2 c quinoa
- 1/2 c vermicelli or orzo
- 1 fresh lemon, juiced
- 1 bunch of cilantro, minced
- pita bread *optional
- I start with cooking chickpeas from scratch. Use 1 cup of dry chickpeas and cook them in the Instant Pot by covering them with water and pressure cook for 60 minutes (high pressure). Drain and set aside 1 cup of cooked chickpeas for the soup and store the rest.
- Over high heat, or on the saute setting of an Instant Pot, cook the diced onion in 2 tbsp of olive oil until yellow. Add the garlic and diced tomatoes.
- Add the cumin, coriander, and pepper and stir well for about 2 minutes until tomatoes have softened.
- Add 4 cups of water, followed by the lentils. Close the lid of the Instant pot and pressure cook by pressing manual and adjust to 3 minutes (high pressure). If using a regular pot, simmer on low for 20 minutes until lentils are cooked.
- While the lentils cook, fry the sliced onions in a sauce pan with the remaining 2 tbsp of oil. Once the onions begin to soften, sprinkle on the corn starch to help them crisp up. Saute over medium-high heat until the onions become golden and crispy. Set aside for serving.
- Once the lentils have cooked, stir the soup and make sure there is still enough liquid. If it has thickened too much, add 1 more cup of water.
- Make sure the pot is now set to saute setting (15 minutes) to simmer the soup. Add the strained tomatoes and broth, along with the salt.
- Add the quinoa. Allow the soup to simmer for 10 minutes more so that the quinoa cooks.
- Add the vermicelli or orzo pasta and cook for about 5 minutes more.
- Add most of the cilantro, reserving some for garnishing. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and serve.
- Garnish with fried onions, cilantro, and serve with pita.