Brown lentil, bean and rice soup

Made with Borlotti beans, brown lentils, brown Basmati rice, tomatoes and vegetables, this hearty soup is delicious. It’s a complete meal that gives you all the plant-based protein that you need.  After a bowl or two, you feel satisfied in a healthy way. For more information on plant-based protein, read herehere and here.

Brown beans, lentils and rice
From your left to right: Dry Borlotti beans, brown lentils, brown Basmati rice.

In this recipe, I added the zest and juice of one lemon (option) as the final step in the recipe. Cooking with lemons, or adding them to soups or stews, is traditional to Moroccan and Greek cuisine. The lemon makes this soup incredibly refreshing and unique. It offsets the warmer spices and brings the entire soup to life.

But there is another, more important benefit to adding lemon to the soup: it helps prevent iron deficiency anaemia. Combining plant foods high in iron, such as beans and lentils, with foods high in Vitamin C, such as lemon (zest and juice) and fresh tomatoes, your body can more easily absorb the iron.

You may wonder if boiling vegetables or fruit destroys their Vitamin C and other nutrients. The answer is no, as long as you consume the broth or liquid in which the ingredients have been boiling. The same goes when making hot beverages or one-pot chili or a stew with gravy or sauce. When you boil the vegetables or fruit, their nutrients, including Vitamins B and C, leach into the water, broth or gravy; if you consume the liquid—as one does with a soup—you still benefit from them.

Bean, lentil and rice soup

Brown lentil, bean and rice soup


  • 2 tablespoon (tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 cooking onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, pressed
  • 1½ cups carrot, peeled and chopped
  • 1½ cups celery, chopped
  • 1 cup diced tomatoes + juice (use canned if tomatoes are not fresh & ripe)
  • 2 bay leaves
  • One 3-inch long (7.5 cm) rosemary sprig -or- 1 teaspoon (tsp) dry rosemary
  • 1/3 cup brown basmati rice
  • 1 cup dried brown lentils
  • 1 cup cooked Borlotti beans, from dry -or- one can strained and rinsed
  • ½ tsp powdered cumin
  • 1 tbsp powdered paprika
  • 8 to 10 cups veggie broth (bouillon), homemade or low sodium store-bought
  • Option: zest and juice from ½ to 1 lemon (I use one full lemon!)*
  • Salt and ground pepper, to taste

* Adjust the lemon as you prefer. Add more water or broth If you find that it tastes too lemony.


With fine meshed sieve, rinse lentils and rice, then soak them in water. Set these aside.

Prepare, chop and measure all remaining ingredients having them ready to go.

Heat up olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and garlic and sauté for 2 minutes.

Add the carrots, celery, tomatoes, bay leaves and rosemary. Cook stirring often for 7 to 8 minutes until soft and fragrant. Add a little water if it sticks.

Strain the rice and lentils and add to the pot and toss gently.

Add the cooked beans, cumin, paprika and toss gently. Cook for 2 minutes tossing regularly so that the ingredients and flavours merge.

Add the veggie broth or bouillon (start with 8 cups and add more later if necessary) and stir well. Partially cover and let the soup simmer for 30 minutes, until the rice and lentils are cooked. Stir the soup from time to time.

Remove and transfer two cups of the soup mixture (leaving aside the rosemary sprig and bay leaves) into the bowl of a small blender or Nutribullet. Blend until creamy and pour this back into the soup pot. Mix well. The soup will get thicker.

Add the lemon zest and juice (option) and allow to simmer for a few minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Adjust consistency and taste by adding extra broth/bouillon or water.

Remove from heat and let the soup settle for 10 minutes. Serve in bowls with crusty whole grain bread, a cheese tray or other side dishes or condiments.


Julie Zimmer

Julie has extensive experience in nursing practice and education in a wide range of fields from intensive/coronary care, to medical-surgical to community and public health. Julie has Bachelor Degrees in Psychology and Nursing, and a Master’s Degree in Community Health Nursing Education. She has taught in faculties of nursing and in various communities in Toronto, Canada and in Geneva, Switzerland, and is a consultant to the International Council of Nurses (ICN). Julie also has years of experience teaching English as a foreign language (EFL) in addition to coordinating an English department in a Swiss private school.

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