Golden-Lentil-and-Leek Soup

When chef Sera Pelle cooks lunch for the staff at Natural Curiosities, she turns to one-pot dishes like this hearty vegetarian soup, thickened with cooked brown rice. A drizzle of homemade scallion-garlic oil with hot pepper adds the perfect spicy counterpoint.


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  • Active:
  • Total Time:
  • Servings: 10 to 12


  • 3/4 cup short-grain brown rice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons safflower or sunflower oil
  • 4 large leeks, white and pale green parts only, coarsely chopped (6 cups)
  • 1 tablespoon Herbamare herb salt or sea salt, plus more for seasoning (see Note)
  • 1 large fennel bulb—halved, cored and coarsely chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 1/2 cups red lentils (1 pound 6 ounces), rinsed
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 cup nutritional yeast (see Note)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Toasted baguette slices and Spicy Scallion Oil, for serving

How to make this recipe

  1. In a medium saucepan, combine the rice with 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over low heat until the rice is tender, about 45 minutes; drain well.

  2. Meanwhile, in a very large pot, heat the olive oil and safflower oil. Add the leeks and 1 teaspoon of the salt, cover and cook over moderate heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the fennel, garlic and the remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, cover and cook, stirring a few times, until softened, about 7 minutes.

  3. Add the lentils, turmeric and 16 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer over low heat, stirring occasionally, until the lentils have broken down, about 30 minutes. Stir in the nutritional yeast and the cooked rice and simmer for 5 minutes.

  4. Using an immersion blender, gently puree the soup until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into bowls and top each serving with a toasted baguette slice and a drizzle of Spicy Scallion Oil.

Make Ahead

The soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently, adding a little more water if the soup is too thick.


Herbamare salt and nutritional yeast are available at health and specialty food stores.

Published March 2012

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