Red lentils are without a doubt one of the best foods I’ve ever found for eating healthy on a budget. They’re low in calories but incredibly nutrient-dense, meaning you always feel nice and satisfied after eating them. And there are so many delicious meals you can make with them! Take this recipe for a red lentil soup with mini meatballs for example. It will show you how to make a fantastic soup base using red lentils and a variety of savory spices and vegetables. Not only that, but you’ll also be making your own delicious mini meatballs entirely from scratch. When you put the two together you end up with a fantastic meal choice that’s high in both fiber and protein that will never fail to leave you feeling full. Who said soups couldn’t be satisfying anyways?
One Unbelievably Nourishing Red Lentil Soup
Whenever I make this soup, I like to get the mini meatballs out of the way first. Simply get a bowl and combine your lean ground beef, flaxseed meal, almond flour, chopped onion, garlic cloves, lightly beaten egg, parsley, chili pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. One quick glance at that list of ingredients should tell you all you need to know – these mini meatballs are full of flavor. They’re also a great source of protein, saturated fat, antioxidants, and essential vitamins and minerals. The meatballs even provide lots of heart healthy omega-3 fatty acids thanks to the flaxseed meal, which helps to lower your risk of heart disease. (1)
After mixing all of the ingredients together, roll the meatballs into tablespoon sized balls. Place them on your prepared baking sheet before brushing them with a bit of olive oil. Using olive oil is another great way to keep the meatballs good for your heart health, as it’s a great source of monounsaturated fatty acids that helps to further lower your risk of developing heart disease and related complications. (2) Go ahead and throw the meatballs in the oven and bake them for about 10-15 minutes.
While they’re baking, you can begin to make the red lentil soup by heating some more olive oil in a pot over a medium heat. The soup base is perfectly capable of matching the great flavor provided by the meatballs thanks to using both garlic and onion as well. Go ahead and cook your onions first for about 4-5 minutes and then add in the garlic next. Both ingredients add a ton of flavor to the soup while also offering some great benefits for your health, such as helping to prevent diseases like cancer. (3)
Next, add the celery and carrots into the mix and saute them for about two minutes. Adding in some veggies like this helps to add plenty of vitamins and minerals into your soup. Between the two ingredients, you’ll be getting a lot of your essential nutrients, including vitamins A, B2, B6, C, and K, calcium, magnesium, potassium, biotin, and dietary fiber.
Finish off your soup base by adding in the four cups of homemade bone broth (check out our great Instant Pot bone broth recipe if you’re not sure how to make your own), water, red lentils, turmeric, cumin, and thyme sprigs. Cover your pot with a lid and cook the soup for 15-20 minutes, and then add in the mini meatballs and cook everything for an additional 2-3 minutes. Pairing the meatballs with red lentils is what ends up making this soup so incredibly satisfying. The red lentils are also incredibly nutrient-dense, as they contain an abundance of polyphenols that have health promoting properties. Adding lentils into the diet has been found to reduce your risk of diseases like diabetes, cancer, obesity, and cardiovascular disease. (4)
When you’re ready to serve your soup, season it to taste with salt and black pepper before adding some chopped parsley and yogurt for a garnishment.
Red Lentil Soup with Mini Meatballs
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 30 minutes
- Total Time: 40 minutes
- Yield: 6 1x
- 3 tbsp olive oil
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 medium carrot, chopped
- 1 celery stalk, chopped
- 1 ½ tsp ground turmeric
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- 2–3 thyme sprigs
- 1 cup red lentils
- 4 cups homemade bone broth
- 2 cups water
- salt and ground black pepper
- chili pepper flakes
For the meatballs:
- 2 tbsp flax seed meal
- 1 pound ground lean beef
- 1/3 cup almond flour
- 1/3 cup chopped onion
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- 2–3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley leaves
- ¼ tsp chili pepper flakes
- salt, black pepper to taste
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- plain yogurt
- chopped fresh cilantro or parsley
- Rinse the lentils in a colander and set aside.
- To make the meatballs, preheat oven to 350°F.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
- In a bowl add the ground beef, flax seed meal, almond flour, chopped onion, garlic, beaten egg parsley, chili pepper flakes and salt and black pepper to taste.
- Mix to combine.
- Form the meatballs into 1 tablespoon sized balls.
- Place the meatballs on the prepared baking sheet and brush with olive oil.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10-15 minutes or until the meatballs are well browned.
- Meanwhile, make the soup.
- In a large pot heat the olive oil over medium heat.
- Add the onion and cook for 4 -5 minutes or until softened and translucent.
- Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds.
- Add the celery and carrots and saute for 2 minutes.
- Add the red lentils, bone broth, water, turmeric, cumin and thyme springs and bring the soup to a low boil.
- Cover with a lid and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the carrots are fork tender and lentils are soft.
- Add the meatballs and cook for 2-3 minutes.
- Season to taste with salt and black pepper.
- Serve warm with yogurt and chopped parsley.