Collard Greens, Chickpea, and Lentil Soup

This collard greens, chickpea, and lentil soup is an Indian-inspired, healthy, yet comforting meal from Nik Sharma that packs layers of flavor into each spoonful.

Three white bowls filled with collard greens, chickpea, and lentil soup.

I like tangy flavors in all my soups; it’s a constant in most of the soups I cook or write about. The bitterness of collard greens is tamed by the acids in the tamarind and tomatoes.

Red lentils cook quickly, so you don’t have to soak them like green or brown lentils, but I still do; it’s a habit I learned from my family in India. Soaking seeds and legumes in water changes their chemical composition and makes them more digestible. If you’re running low on time, skip the soak and just cook them.–Nik Sharma

What to look for when buying red lentils

Depending on where you buy your red lentils, you might notice some differences in their thickness and diameter. Indian red lentils are wider and thicker than the ones sold in American grocery stores; consequently, if using Indian lentils, you’ll need to increase your cooking time and add a little more water if you notice the liquid being completely absorbed.

Collard Greens, Chickpea, and Lentil Soup

  • Quick Glance
  • (1)
  • 30 M
  • 1 H, 15 M
  • Serves 4 to 6
5/5 - 1 reviews
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Pick over the lentils for any stones or debris, rinse in a fine-mesh sieve under running tap water, and transfer to a small bowl. Cover with 1 cup of water and soak for 30 minutes.

Tester tip: If you’re running short on time, you can skip the soaking step. Just give the lentils a good rinse before adding them to the soup.

In a large saucepan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until translucent, 3 to 5 minutes.

Add the garlic and ginger and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute. Add the cinnamon, black pepper, red chili powder, and turmeric and cook, stirring, until fragrant, 30 to 45 seconds.

Stir in the tomato paste and cook until it just starts to brown, 1 to 2 minutes. Watch it carefully so it doesn’t scorch.

Stir in the diced tomato and collard greens and sauté until the leaves turn bright green, 2 to 4 minutes.

Drain the soaked lentils and add them to the pan along with the chickpeas and vegetable stock. Bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook until the lentils are tender and completely cooked, 25 to 30 minutes. If the soup seems excessively thick, or all the broth has been absorbed, add more broth as desired.

Stir in the tamarind paste. Taste and season with salt.

Before serving, stir in the chopped parsley and cilantro. Serve hot with slices of warm buttered toasted bread or naan, if desired.

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Recipe Testers' Reviews

Each year as the weather turns cooler and the humidity wanes, I get a strong hankering for soup. This weekend was the perfect time to make soup and this specific recipe for Collard Greens, Chickpea, and Lentil Soup really caught my eye. I adore the flavor combination of ginger, cinnamon, turmeric, and chili powder, and with the addition of hearty collard greens and the mix of lentils and chickpeas, I was sold on making this healthy soup.

Oh what a fragrant soup as it simmered on the stove! I also loved the idea that I could use one of my last-of-the-season ripe tomatoes here, too.

My chili powder was a spicy variety, which I think paired well with the other flavors of the soup, and I had a boxed variety of organic vegetable stock that I like in the pantry, so that is what I used here.

I did not soak my red lentils because, in my experience, they cook very quickly. Also, I did not have tamarind paste on hand (I wish I did!) so I used the juice of 1 lime instead.

I served the soup with some garlic bread and a side of roasted broccoli. I would say this serves 6 people easily.

In total, I used 2 1/2 teaspoons of Morton kosher salt in the soup. Seeing that this soup is vegetarian and has such cleansing flavors, this is a wonderful recipe to pull anytime in the fall or winter months, but especially around the new year when we all seem to be trying to cook a bit cleaner in general!

Confession: I almost didn't make this because it wasn't a particularly sexy recipe. What a fool I was! This was absolutely lovely! Warm and hearty, bursting with flavor and aromatics. This soup has a very prominent cinnamon flavor, which I loved.

Collard greens weren't available at my grocery store, so I used Swiss chard. I used homemade chicken stock instead of veg stock or water. I used pure tamarind paste and 1/2 tbsp light brown sugar.

I soaked my lentils for 30 mins, but if you choose not to, be sure to rinse them as the soaking water turned very cloudy.

This was a perfect weeknight dinner.

I didn't serve it with anything! Just a warm bowl of soup. I'd argue it was a perfectly filling meal on its own and didn't need bread or anything else.


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  1. Delicious! I used Swiss chard because I needed to use up what had grown in my garden, and I used lime juice because I had a half of one that I needed to use. Plus, there are several forms of tamarind and I never know which one is the correct kind. Someone above said it would serve 6, but two of us ate it for dinner and there was only half a bowl left.

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