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
- 1/4 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
Vegetarian Lentil from Amwell Church of the Brethren
Manhattan Clam Chowder from The Metropolitan Seafood Company
Minestrone with Sausage from Chive and Thyme Catering and Cafe
Roasted Three Onion with Smoked Garlic from Matt’s Red Rooster Grill
Organic, Gluten-Free Chicken Noodle Soup from Basil Bandwagon Natural Food Market
Curried African Chickpea from Teaberry’s Tearoom
Butternut Squash Bisque from the Kitchens at ShopRite of Hunterdon County
To find an Empty Bowl event in your area, search “Empty Bowl” along with your city name.
Hi. Just stumbled upon your blog and it’s wonderful. What type lentils did you use for this recipe?
I’m so glad you are here, Kathryn! Thanks for your kind words. I use brown lentils…those are the ones that are most common in grocery stores, but you can also use Puy or green lentils as well. I’d avoid using red lentils. They’ll just get really mushy in this. Hope you love it! :)
Mary Ann | The Beach House Kitchen
What a great event. And such an important cause. I just love lentil soup and so does my husband Tom. Your recipe sounds so hearty and delicious Caroline. Getting this on the menu soon!
I agree, Mary Ann! Hope you love it!
Karen @ Seasonal Cravings
I need to make a huge batch of this and eat it all week for lunch. It looks satisfying and healthy!
Thanks so much, Karen! Yes…we’ve been eating it for lunch in my house and it’s delicious!