This Cauliflower Lentil Pasta Soup is high in plant-based protein, full of flavor, and packed with nutrients. Vegan and kid-friendly, with an oil-free option.
This veggie-loaded soup combines cauliflower rice, lentils, olives, and lots of fresh herbs for a nourishing and flavorful dinner. Admittedly, I was a bit surprised by how quickly my kids devoured this soup!
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🥣 Why This Recipe Is Fabulous
- This soup is packed with veggies, yet it's so flavorful that you don't realize how many veggies you're eating!
- The recipe is very flexible. You can skip the pasta and add quinoa or rice instead. In addition, green or brown lentils can be substituted for the red lentils.
- Prep for this recipe is minimal. Store-bought frozen cauliflower rice works perfectly. There's no need to make your own unless you really want to.
- You can freeze this soup for up to two months.
- This is a kid-approved recipe. I tested it on three!
📖 How to Make This Recipe
Cook the onion until translucent. Add the cauliflower rice and cook until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds more.
Transfer the diced tomatoes to the saucepan.
Add the red lentils, maple syrup, and pomegranate molasses. If you do not have pomegranate molasses, substitute for balsamic vinegar.
Add fresh thyme and rosemary, reserved pasta water, and vegetable broth. Simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the lentils are cooked.
When the Red Lentils and Cauliflower Rice are Cooked:
Remove the rosemary sprigs. Mix in the olives, and salt to taste. Stir in the desired amount of cooked pasta.
👩🏼🌾 Ingredients & Nutrition
Cauliflower rice makes it easy to increase your daily veggie intake. Loaded with fiber and water, it's both hydrating and filling. It's also versatile and requires no prep if you use the store-bought variety. I always keep some in my freezer just in case.
These little red gems are a convenient way to add protein to soup. They cook super fast, plus they give texture to the dish. They're also high in fiber which makes bowel movements regular, keeps blood sugars in check, and feeds our good gut bacteria.
Pomegranate molasses is the secret ingredient that gives this soup its unique flavor. It's made by reducing pomegranate juice down to a thick, intensely flavored syrup. It adds a tangy, wine-like quality, and meaty flavor to this dish.
I use it in salad dressings, as a glaze for tofu and tempeh, or drizzled on roasted veggies. Don't sweat it if you don't have any. It can be substituted for balsamic vinegar in this recipe.
Kalamata olives add a unique, salty Mediterranean flavor to this soup. They can be expensive, so feel free to substitute for other types of olives.
Olives are very nutritious. They're rich in antioxidants, one of these being hydroxytyrosol, which has been shown to decrease bad cholesterol levels (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL).
Although they have several heath benefits, olives are high in sodium, and so should be eaten in moderation. I rinse mine in water before using to remove some of the salty brine.
Cut the cauliflower into chunks, including the cores.
Place into a food processor.
Pulse until the cauliflower resembles the texture of rice. Work in batches, if necessary, and be careful not to over-process or it will become mushy.
Yes. Follow the recipe below, but simmer the ingredients for 20 minutes, instead of 10 minutes, with the lid on. Add more broth or water as needed.
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Cauliflower Lentil Pasta Soup
- 8 ounces dry pasta (½ packet)
- 1 tablespoon olive oil or vegetable broth
- 1 medium onion diced (1 ½ cups)
- 14 ounces riced cauliflower (frozen) thawed, or 3 cups fresh
- 3 garlic cloves minced
- 28 ounces diced tomatoes canned, drained
- 1 cup red lentils rinsed
- 3 tablespoons pomegranate molasses or balsamic vinegar
- 2 teaspoons maple syrup
- 1 ½ tablespoons fresh thyme leaves
- 2 sprigs fresh rosemary
- 2 cups pasta water
- 1 cup vegetable broth plus more for cooking
- ⅓ cup pitted kalamata olives halved
- Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
- Cook the pasta until al dente as per packet directions. Reserve 2 ½ cups pasta water when draining. Set aside.
- Cook the Cauliflower: Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Cook the onion for about 5 minutes, or until translucent. Add the riced cauliflower and cook for about 7 minutes more, or until golden brown. Add the garlic and cook for another 30 seconds.
- Combine Ingredients: Add the diced tomatoes, red lentils, pomegranate molasses, maple syrup, thyme, rosemary, 2 cups reserved pasta water, and vegetable broth. Bring the liquid to a gentle boil before reducing the heat. Simmer covered for 10 minutes. Remove the lid and cook for about 5 minutes more, or until the red lentils are cooked. Stir frequently and add more vegetable broth as needed.
- Season: Remove the rosemary sprigs. Add the olives and stir to combine. Season with salt and black pepper. Mix in the desired amount of cooked pasta and heat until warmed through.
- Pomegranate molasses is not thought of as a pantry staple, but I always have some in my pantry. It adds a tangy flavor to this soup that's delicious. If you don't have any, balsamic vinegar is a good substitute for this dish.
- Green or brown lentils can be substituted for red lentils. This will increase cooking time by 5 to 10 minutes, and you will need to add more vegetable broth while cooking.
- The kalamata olives can be substituted for other types of olives.
This information is provided as a courtesy and is an ESTIMATE only. Varying factors such as product types or brands purchased can change the nutritional information in any given recipe.