This Empty Bowl Lentil Soup recipe is made with simple ingredients and a straightforward recipe, yielding the most nourishing and delicious soup.

Years ago a dear friend invited me to join her for lunch at an Empty Bowl event.  The grassroots movement, The Empty Bowls Project, began twenty-five years ago by founders John Hartom and Lisa Blackburn.  The idea is simple.  Homemade soups are served in beautiful handcrafted bowls donated by local artists. Patrons take the bowl home as a reminder of hunger in their own community.  The event is held in various forms all over the country.  Take a peek below to learn how to find an event near you.

Ever since that first luncheon, my friend and I have had a standing date every single year.  The soups are always delicious and I leave with a beautiful piece of pottery and a feeling of community. I’ve got quite a collection (many of them appear in my photos, like these) and each time I use one of my bowls, I’m reminded of how much I have to be thankful for.

My local Empty Bowl fundraiser provides funds for the Flemington Food Pantry.  They are celebrating their twentieth year this year.  Their menu is extensive (see it below) and for the past couple of years, many of their soups are donated by local restaurants.  Of all of their soups, this vegetarian Empty Bowl Lentil Soup is their most requested recipe.  The origin of the recipe is unknown, but the volunteers of a local church prepare this patron favorite every year.

This recipe makes an enormous pot of soup that, true to the message of this movement, is perfect for sharing.

Empty Bowl Lentil Soup - this recipe is the most requested for good reason…simple ingredients and a straightforward recipe yields an amazingly delicious soup! @tasteLUVnourish

Empty Bowl Lentil Soup
Serves: 12
This simple soup is so nourishing and filling. This recipe makes a huge batch…wonderful for freezing for later or sharing with friends. Deliciously vegan and gluten-free.
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 2 medium onions, diced
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 cups diced carrots
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 28 ounce can petite diced tomatoes
  • 4 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 cup diced zucchini
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 pound uncooked lentils, sorted, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh spinach
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  1. In an 8 quart or larger pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, celery and carrots and cook until the onions begin to soften. Add the garlic and cook for just one minute. Add the diced tomatoes and cook for another two minutes. Increase the heat to high and immediately add the broth, zucchini, green beans, oregano, thyme and lentils.
  2. Bring the pot to a boil. Stir and reduce to a simmer. Simmer for 1 to 2 hours or until the lentils and vegetables are tender. Add the spinach and cook for an additional 15 to 20 minutes.
  3. Season to taste.

Recipe adapted from Empty Bowl Lentil Soup, courtesy of Karen Holmes, Chair, The Empty Bowl, Flemington Food Pantry

The Flemington Food Pantry’s Empty Bowl event is scheduled for

Friday, October 14th, 2016, from 11am to 3pm at the

United Methodist Church at Maple and Main in Flemington, New Jersey.



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To find an Empty Bowl event in your area, search “Empty Bowl” along with your city name.