Here’s a different beef mince recipe idea for you – a hearty Beef & Lentil Soup with vegetables! Adapted from my Best Ever Lentil Soup with the addition of ground beef and Moroccan-inspired spicing for extra tastiness, lentil soups can be so boring … but not this one!
Healthy, hearty, economical and a complete dinner made in one pot. Yessss…..
New beef mince recipe idea: Beef & Lentil Soup!
This is a hearty lentil soup loaded up with lots of vegetables and the convenience of ground beef for the meat! Why don’t we use beef mince in soup more often? It’s so handy and economical, it soaks up flavour and makes this one-pot hearty meal a very low-effort endeavour.
My sort of Wednesday night dinner!
I like to brown the beef using spices to incorporate flavour into it which then seeps into the soup broth. So this is a whole lot tastier than the usual lentil soups that have a bad reputation for being bland and boring……😇
I like to add a sprinkling of Moroccan flavours in this to add interest. But there’s so many possibilities using whatever you’ve got! Curry, Greek, Italian, Mexican… I’ve suggested some in the recipe notes!
What goes in Beef & Lentil Soup
Here’s what you need to make this:
Beef – Ground beef / beef mince. Same thing, different name, depending on where you are in the world! Use lean beef if you prefer, though the fattier it is, the better beef flavour you will get (because fat is actually where most of the flavour is with any meat). Substitute with any other ground meat – pork, chicken, turkey, even lamb. All you will need to do is adjust the spice quantities a bit – the whiter the meat, the more spice you will need (because the meat flavour is more neutral in mince form because the meat doesn’t brown like when searing, for example, a whole chicken breast);
Lentils – Dried lentils works really well here because you get a bit of extra flavour and thickening of the broth. But canned will work just fine too. Substitute: Chickpeas or beans!
You can use canned lentils if you want, but dried lentils taste better plus they thicken the soup broth a bit.
Onion & garlic – Essential and standard flavour bases for the soup;
Moroccan spices – This is where you can add any flavour you want! And it’s really easy to figure out how much to use. Start conservatively, add it bit by bit and taste, and keep adding as needed until it tastes right to you. I kept the base recipe simple by using store bought Moroccan spice mix as my main flavour, then spruced it up with a bit of extra spices. See recipe notes for a list of suggestions – go global!
Canned crushed tomato – or tomato passata, what’s called tomato sauce in the US (it’s tomato passata + a touch of flavour) or even my tomato paste substitute for canned tomato, click here for the recipe;
Beef stock/broth – For big hearty beef flavour. However vegetable or chicken stock/broth will work a treat here. For soups, I do recommend buying stock in liquid form rather than using cubes or powder because the flavour is cleaner and more natural. If you only have bouillon cubes or powder, that will work fine but sauté the onion, celery and carrots slowly for longer. This will form a terrific soffrito flavour base to compensate. Directions are in the recipe;
Vegetables! Use 6 – 8 cups of anything you want that cooks well in soup broth! I’ve included an extensive list in the recipe notes. I typically firstly add vegetables that can hold up to a 25-minute simmer at the beginning (eg. carrots, celery), then vegetables I want to stay greener and/or not turn into mush towards the end (eg. beans, zucchini). It also depends how big you cut them – I’ve diced them so you get a bit of everything in each spoonful.
How to make Beef Lentil Soup
And here’s how to make it:
Mix the spices in a bowl first – We’re going to use some to brown the beef, and some to flavour the soup broth;
Cook onion, beef – Sauté the onion and garlic (essential flavour base!) then brown the beef, breaking it up as you go (flat edge wooden spatula makes short work of this);
Brown beef with spices – Add some of the spices and cook it with the beef. Here we add a ton of extra flavour into this soup, so cook off those spices well! Have a nibble and make sure it’s tasty, then tweak as needed. Some of the flavour will seep into the soup, but most stays on the beef;
Add everything else – Add the vegetables that can sustain a 25 minute simmer along with all the broth ingredients (tomato, beef stock, water, remaining spices) and give it big stir;
Simmer for 25 – 30 minutes for the lentils to soften and tomato to break down so it thickens the sauce. TIP: Older dried lentils take longer to cook, so really old ones might take 35 minutes. Add the faster-cooking vegetables partway through, and based on how long they take to cook. I added the diced zucchini and green beans after 15 minutes – so they cooked for 10 minutes. This was more than sufficient to cook them through until soft and to soak up broth flavour; and
Serve! Because I went for a Moroccan flavour for the base recipe, I finished with a dollop of yogurt and some fresh coriander. I will pop a list of suggested finishes for other spice mix combinations in the recipe card.
The soup broth is thickened by the starch from the lentils and the crushed tomatoes that are simmered so they break down.
Why I love this Beef & Lentil Soup
This is a soup that ticks a lot of boxes for me:
✔️ Quick to make using any vegetables I have (great fridge clean-out dish!) and no chopping meat;
✔️ You can give it kapow! flavours by really dialling up the spices as much as you like. It’s easy to figure: Just add and taste, add and taste! As written it is just nicely spiced to give it a bit of interest, but intentionally not in-your-face spicing (I save my real spice bombing for curries);
✔️ It’s very economical and versatile. Change up the spices to whatever you’re feeling like today!
✔️ Freezes 100% perfectly and keeps for days in the fridge; and
✔️ It’s a complete, healthy meal in one pot: Meat, starch and lots of vegetables. No need to make a separate side!
Hope you enjoy! – Nagi x
Watch how to make it
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Beef & Lentil Soup with vegetables
My Moroccan Spice Mix (or change it up! Note 1):
- 2 1/2 tbsp Moroccan spice mix (store-bought) , any brand is fine, I used this one
- 1 tsp allspice (mixed spice will work too)
- 2 tsp cumin powder
- 2 tsp paprika
- 3/4 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp salt (Note 2)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves , finely chopped
- 1 onion , finely chopped (brown, white, or yellow)
- 500g / 1lb beef mince (ground beef) (I use lean)
- 1 1/4 cups dried lentils (or 2 cans, drained, Note 3)
- 2 carrots *, cut into 1cm / 1/3” dice
- 2 celery stalks *, chopped into 1cm / 1/3”pieces
- 2 zucchinis *(small, or 1 large), cut into 1cm / 1/3” dice
- 100g / 4 oz green beans *, trimmed, cut into 1.5cm / 1/2” pieces
- 800g / 28 oz crushed canned tomato
- 4 cups / 1 litre beef stock , low sodium (Note 4)
- 3 cups water
- Yogurt (plain or Greek)
- 1/4 cup Coriander/cilantro leaves, or sliced green onions
- Mix spices in a small bowl.
- Saute onion & garlic: Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Cook onion and garlic for 3 minutes until golden on the edges.
- Brown & spice beef: Turn heat up to high, add beef and cook until it's no longer red, breaking it up as you go. Add 2 tablespoons of the Spice Mix and cook it for a further 2 minutes – it will smell so good!
- Carrot & celery: Add carrot and celery, then stir for 1 minute. (If using your own veg mix, add the veg in this step that will hold up to full 25 min simmer time)
- Make broth: Add water, beef stock, canned tomato, lentils and remaining Spice Mix too. Give it a stir, bring to simmer, then place lid on and reduce to medium low so it's simmering gently. Lentils will take 25 – 30 minutes to cook until soft. Very old lentils can take 5 – 10 minutes longer.
- Simmer 15 minutes then add zucchini & green beans.
- Simmer 10 minutes longer or until lentils are soft (ie. 25 minutes total).
- Serve! Taste and add more salt if desired. Ladle into bowls and serve with yogurt and coriander.
1. Spice mix – Lots of possibilities here. It’s easy to judge quantity by adding bit by bit and tasting as you go! I’ve used a handy simple Moroccan Spice Mix option to give this a flavour boost with minimal effort. But some other suggestions:
- Mexican – You can totally cheat and use a packet of taco seasoning (1 pack is the perfect amount) or use the Homemade Taco Seasoning recipe in this Taco Soup. Serve with dollop of sour cream and shredded cheese, corn chips or warm tortillas for dunking. SO GOOD!
- Indian – Use a good dose of your favourite curry powder (packet, or mix up as you like) with a touch of Garam Masala for extra authentic flavour! I would use at least 1 tbsp curry in the beef + 1 tsp Garam Masala, then the same in the broth. Add chilli powder or cayenne for heat! Serve with yogurt and coriander/cilantro;
- Greek style – Double the garlic, add 1 tbsp oregano leaves and 2 teaspoons ground fennel seeds into the beef. Follow recipe as written, finish with the zest of 1 lemon + lemon juice to taste. Flatbread for dunking!
- Italian – Add 2 – 3 teaspoons of Italian herb mix into the beef, plus a teaspoon more into the broth, plus a pinch of chilli flakes. Stir in 1/2 cup of grated parmesan and finish with a sprinkling of extra parmesan. Serve with crusty bread. SO GOOD!
- Cajun – Use a good Cajun spice mix! Add a tablespoon into the beef, then add more to taste into the broth – just taste and simmer.
- Middle Eastern Shawarma-flavour – Make it from scratch yourself using the spice mix in this Lamb Shawarma Chickpea Soup recipe.
- Sauté the onion, celery and carrots together on medium low for 8 minutes – this will form a terrific soffrito flavour base to compensate;
- Use 4 cubes or 4 teaspoons powder and 1 litre / 4 cups water (in place of beef stock).
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