Dr. Padma Garvey

The plant-based Doctor Mom 

Spinach Lentil Soup Indian Style

Lentils taste best when cooked thoroughly. When using in certain soups, they can be cooked until quite soft so that they can be pureed and used to thicken the soup. A pressure cooker is a worthwhile purchase. You will find one in just about every Indian household. You can use any lentil you like.

For this particular soup, I use toor dal. But you can use green split peas as well . Many grocery stores are selling it now. You can definitely find in any Indian grocery store. If you are using toor dal, you need to roast them until golden brown first in a large skillet.  If you use green split peas, you do not need to roast first.  Place the toor dal or split peas in a sturdy metal container that will fit inside your pressure cooker. Fill this container with about three cups of water, enough so the toor dal in fully immersed in water. Place about one inch worth of water in your pressure cooker. Place your container of toor dal inside the pressure cooker. Follow the instructions for your pressure cooker with regards to sealing the lid, etc. It will take about 15 minutes of pressurized cooking to cook the dal. Follow your pressure cooker instructions with regards to allowing the pressure to dissipate and release the lid. Take the toor dal or split peas with the water they cooked in and mash into a puree.


Thoroughly rinse and chop two to three bunches of spinach and set aside. In a larger soup pot, place one teaspoon of oil and heat.  Once oil is hot add one tablespoon of black mustard seeds, one teaspoon of menthi seeds, and 1/2 teaspoon of hingh powder.  When the black mustard seeds start to pop, add one large, diced onion, one large diced green bell pepper and one chopped jalapeno (optional). After the onions start to soften, place 2 cups of water.  Soup is best when more like a stew, so you can always add more water if you need to at the end.  Place all your spinach in the pot, cover and cook on medium heat for about 20 minutes or until vegetables are very soft. Add one teaspoon of salt, one teaspoon of turmeric (optional), 1/2 teaspoon of tamarind paste, one teaspoon of yellow mustard. Add your toor dal puree or split peas. Let the soup cook for about thirty minutes. Add salt to taste. 


Add about 1/2 cup of cooked brown rice (short grain brown rice) or millet to your bowl of soup when you eat it.