By Kathryn McLean

I often feel that February is the worst month of the winter season here in Toronto. Even though it’s a short calendar month it’s one of the coldest.

Maybe you’re looking forward to school’s March Break, especially if you’re planning on travelling somewhere warm.

But for the rest of us, we’re still trudging through winter, trying to make the best of it.

Do you tuck in at home or venture outdoors?

Are you only leaving your home for school and work?

Or maybe you enjoy a winter walk, skating, skiing, and playing in the snow.

Whatever you do, there’s no denying that February is a cold month. Soup often helps us feel warmed right through during frigid winter days.

To help combat that cold, dreary weather, here is a simple vegetarian soup recipe. This lentil soup is quick to make and tasty on its own. But you can easily add some cooked rice, or serve it alongside rice.

If you want to add more vegetables, this recipe is adaptable. You can add one or more of any of these chopped vegetables: onion, celery, fennel or carrots, along with the chopped onion.

Try adding a chopped tomato at the lentil and spices stage of the recipe.

Include fresh chopped spinach (or a handful of baby spinach) after cooking; simply stir it through the steaming hot soup until the spinach wilts.

Alternatively, add a handful of frozen vegetables (corn, chopped kale, mixed veggies) with the lentils and proceed with the recipe as listed. Please note, that if you choose to add a lot of vegetables, you will also need an additional 1/2 cup of water unless you are hoping for more of a veggie stew rather than soup.

Finally, enjoy the soup with toast or warmed flatbread.

I like to top this with fresh herbs and a squeeze of lemon or lime juice.

Lentil Soup

⅔ cup red lentils
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp garam masala
Fresh lemon and herbs (such as parsley, cilantro, chives), optional


  1. Measure the lentils into a bowl and cover with water to soak.
  2. Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in a medium-sized pot, add the chopped onion and a pinch of salt; stir frequently, cooking the onion over medium-low heat until it begins to soften, around 10 minutes.
  3. Drain the lentils and add them to the onions in the pot, along with the dry spices.
  4. Stir to coat, then add 2 cups of water; cover and bring to a boil.
  5. Once boiling, turn down the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, covered.
  6. You can add a squeeze of lemon or lime juice and a sprinkle of chopped fresh herbs to the soup as you serve it.