20 Comforting Lentil Recipes With More Protein Than Chicken

These flavorful and healthy lentil recipes make great weeknight dinners.
Image Credit: Alisa Chirva/iStock/GettyImages

Sometimes overshadowed by beans and chickpeas, lentils definitely don't get the credit they deserve. But these little legumes are high in nutrients, low in calories and easy to incorporate into just about any dish. Lentil recipes like lentil soup, lentil curry and lentil chili prove how simple weeknight meals can be.

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At only 230 calories, 15.6 grams of fiber and 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, lentils are a meal-prepping powerhouse. They also provide about 37 percent of your daily recommended iron intake, a nutrient that's essential for your red blood cells.

Tip

If you've never eaten lentils before, introduce them into your diet slowly.

"Because they are rich in fiber, it is best to not over-consume lentils if newly introducing them into your diet, since the extra fiber can cause bloating, gas and other digestive distress in the short term," says Joanna Foley, RD.

Before you toss a variety of lentil products into your cart, make sure to check the sodium. Lentil soup can be healthy if you make it from scratch (with dried legumes) but canned varieties are often high in sodium and preservatives. Make sure to wash your lentils before use to rinse off extra sodium, Foley says.

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"Lentils should always be rinsed to remove any exposure to dirt, dust or pesticides in the harvesting and packaging stages."

These healthy lentil recipes contain as much protein as a 4-ounce serving of chicken thigh — that's 16 grams of protein — so get cookin'.

1. Red Lentil Soup With Lemon

This soup is high in protein and low in sodium.
Image Credit: dream79/Adobe Stock
  • Calories:‌ 387
  • Protein:‌ 21 grams

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This lentil soup packs about 21 grams of plant-based protein and a solid dose of iron, thanks to the combination of lentils and spinach, a leafy green that's known for being high in iron.

The American Heart Association recommends no more than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day and this soup is a must-try, with only 759 milligrams of sodium per serving.

Get the Red Lentil Soup With Lemon recipe and nutrition info here.

2. Curry Coconut Chicken, Red Lentils and Bok Choy

This recipe serves four and is sure to be a crowd pleaser.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com
  • Calories:‌ 495
  • Protein:‌ 43 grams

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Curry coconut chicken with red lentils and bok choy is sure to please the whole family. This four-serving dish is loaded with 43 grams of protein and 11 grams of fiber, both of which are especially satiating nutrients, according to a 2015 study published in Trends in Food Science and Technology.

This recipe also calls for canned coconut milk, which is responsible for the soup's velvety richness, and is spiced with cilantro, cumin and finished off with lemon juice for some zest.

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Get the Curry Coconut Chicken, Red Lentils and Bok Choy recipe and nutrition info here.

3. Nutty Lentil Soup

This soup is quick to prepare and packs a good punch of protein.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com
  • Calories:‌ 380
  • Protein:‌ 16 grams

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If you're looking for a simple soup recipe that's full of protein (16 grams total) and takes only 10 minutes to prepare, you've come to the right place. All you need to whip this dish up is 1.5 cups of low-sodium lentil soup and 10 walnut halves.

For a more complete meal, you can add some vegetables, such as broccoli and carrots, to your soup and serve it with a side of whole-grain bread.

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Get the Nutty Lentil Soup recipe and nutrition info here.

4. Savory Lentil Chili With Cumin Cream

This chili is high in heart-healthy unsaturated fats.
Image Credit: LIVESTRONG.com/Sherry Castellano
  • Calories:‌ 446
  • Protein:‌ 19 grams

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If you're looking for a comforting dinner recipe, this chili is it. High in protein and fiber, this savory lentil chili also provides 13 grams of healthy, unsaturated fats.

Lentils are low in fat (less than 1 gram per cup) but this dish fills the gaps, thanks to the heart-healthy olive oil in the recipe. Olive oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is tied to helping improve blood cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease, according to the Mayo Clinic.

Get the Savory Lentil Chili With Cumin Cream recipe ‌‌and nutrition info ‌‌here.

5. Red Curry Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach

The creamy, rich dish has keeps the sat fats to a minimum.
Image Credit: Everyday Homemade
  • Calories:‌ 291
  • Protein:‌ 15 grams

Creamy, rich, and flavorful, you might find it surprising that this dish only has 3 grams of saturated fats per serving. Yes, there's coconut milk, but there's only 1/4 cup in the entire recipe.

Red lentils cook down to a creamy consistency while adding in plenty of protein. You get 8 grams of fiber, too.

Get the ‌‌Red Curry Lentils with Sweet Potatoes and Spinach recipe and nutrition info from Everyday Homemade.

6. Instant Pot Lentil Soup

This one-pot meal is a hearty, well-balanced meal.
Image Credit: The Recipe Well
  • Calories:‌ 398
  • Protein:‌ 23 grams

Just because it's vegetarian, doesn't mean it lacks protein. This hearty comforting lentil soup has a variety of vegetables and over 20 grams of protein per serving!

And you can't deny the convenience of this one-pot meal. You simply toss all the ingredients in your Instant Pot, seal it, to let it cook to perfection.

Get the Instant Pot Lentil Soup ‌‌recipe and nutrition info from The Recipe Well.

7. Lentil Salad

Enjoy a burst of flavor with every satisfying bite.
Image Credit: Tastes Better from Scratch
  • Calories:‌ 271
  • Protein:‌ 16 grams

This savory lentil dish has a chopped salad appeal. The beauty is that you'll get all the wonderful flavors in each bite because everything is chopped to uniformity (about the size of the lentils).

Bell peppers, onions, parsley, and cilantro give it a bright and savory appeal. And the lentils add a hearty satisfaction to the meal.

High in protein and high in fiber — it's got 16 and 19 grams, respectively — you won't leave the table hungry.

Get the‌‌ Lentil Salad recipe and nutrition info from Tastes Better from Scratch.

8. Instant Pot Lentil Soup

It's a warming bowl of protein and fiber.
Image Credit: Little Sunny Kitchen
  • Calories:‌ 323
  • Protein:‌ 21 grams

Comforting and hearty, this one-pot lentil soup has plenty of flavor. It's got the warmth of cumin and paprika and the tanginess of tomatoes, a good source of vitamin C.

With 21 grams of protein and 25 grams of fiber, you can't deny this is one satisfying meal.

Get the ‌‌Instant Pot Lentil Soup recipe and nutrition info from Little Sunny Kitchen.

9. Spring Lentil Salad

Lentils add satisfying protein to this vibrant blend of greens.
Image Credit: Chelsea Dishes
  • Calories:‌ 356
  • Protein:‌ 15 grams

Don't let the name fool you, this leafy greens salad can be enjoyed even in the coolest of months. It's got plenty of legumes to keep it satisfying and some bright flavors, too. Pickled shallots add tanginess and brine to the crisp veggies in the mixture. And a lemony Dijon dressing pulls it all together.

Lentils certainly boost the protein in this dish, and are also a great source of fiber. It's also worth noting that the 14 grams of fiber in this dish meets half your daily goal.

Get the ‌‌Spring Lentil Salad recipe and nutrition info from Chelsea Dishes.

10. Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup

Red lentils add a vibrant orange to this dish.
Image Credit: Chelsea Dishes
  • Calories:‌ 344
  • Protein:‌ 18 grams

Comforting and healthy, this veggie-rich soup is plentiful in plant protein. Split red lentils supply a hearty dose of the macronutrient.

It's bright, colorful, and easy to prepare. In less than 45 minutes you can enjoy this warming, hearty meal.

Get the Instant Pot Red Lentil Soup‌‌ recipe and nutrition info from Chelsea Dishes.

11. Deliciously Rich Lentil Bolognese

This mouthwatering vegan dish has 44 grams of protein!
Image Credit: The Endless Meal
  • Calories:‌ 700
  • Protein:‌ 44 grams

Caramelized onions, carrots, and peppers make this a hearty comforting dish. And this vegan lentil Bolognese does not disappoint. With plenty of hearty brown lentils and a base of chickpea pasta, you'll get a wealth of protein in this meal (44 grams).

And let's not forget the variety of fruit (tomato) and veggies in this dish, keeping it nourishing and antioxidant-rich.

Get the ‌‌Deliciously Rich Lentil Bolognese recipe and nutrition info from The Endless Meal.

12. Crock Pot Coconut Lentil Curry

This curry is sure to satisfy with plenty of warmth and flavor.
Image Credit: The Endless Meal
  • Calories:‌ 388
  • Protein:‌ 17 grams

Curries are known for their creamy-yet-savory appeal, which surely delivers on comfort. Ginger and cumin add warmth, and you can turn up the heat even more with some cayenne.

The crockpot cooking method seals in all of these flavors perfectly. Note: To cut back on the sodium, consider using just 1 teaspoon of salt versus 2 to 3.

Get the ‌‌Crockpot Coconut Lentil Curry recipe and nutrition info from The Endless Meal.

13. Lentil Pasta With Tempeh and Spinach

Lentil pasta provides a protein-rich base for this meal.
Image Credit: Melissa Traub
  • Calories:‌ 325
  • Protein:‌ 24 grams

You don't have to use canned or dried lentils to enjoy the benefits of the legume. In fact, there are plenty of legume-based pasta products on the market.

What's more, lentil-based pasta has more fiber and protein than your typical semolina pasta. It's got more potassium, too! And with tempeh in the mix, you have plenty of protein-fueled staying power.

Get the‌‌ Lentil Pasta With Tempeh and Spinach recipe and nutrition info from Melissa Traub.

14. Tropical Lentil Bowls With Coconut Rice

Tropical fruits add a bright appeal to this flavorful meal.
Image Credit: Summer Yule
  • Calories:‌ 793
  • Protein:‌ 21 grams

This vegan lentil dish is not low in calories or fat, but it's definitely a good source of protein. (Hint: Swapping out half the coconut milk for water will make it lighter.)

With the bright tanginess of mango and pineapple, it's got a tropical flavor appeal full of nutrients. Avocado provides a source of heart-healthy fats. Bell pepper and mango supply a healthy dose of potassium, beta-carotene, and vitamin C.

Get the ‌‌Tropical Lentil Bowls With Coconut Rice recipe and nutrition info from Summer Yule.

15. Lentil Quinoa Salad

Boost your protein and immunity with this lentil quinoa salad.
Image Credit: Sound Bites Nutrition
  • Calories:‌ 400
  • Protein:‌ 15 grams

This recipe is a delicious and hearty blend of legumes and whole grains tossed with leafy greens. Quinoa and lentils supply a healthy dose of protein and fiber, spinach is a source of iron, and lemon juice supplies some vitamin C. Crunchy pecans, feta, and chewy dried cherries add to its flavor and texture.

And, if you are looking for a dish that's low in sodium but still satiating and flavorful, this one fits the bill.

Get the ‌‌Lentil Quinoa Salad recipe and nutrition info from Sound Bites Nutrition.

16. Easy Greek Lentil Soup

This hearty lentil soup is conveniently delicious.
Image Credit: Veggies Save the Day
  • Calories:‌ 317
  • Protein:‌ 21 grams

This pantry-friendly dish uses common staples to keep it an inexpensive option to fuel your needs!

Brown lentils keep the texture hearty and dense. You'll combine finely chopped carrots, onion, and celery with some simple seasonings, vegetable broth, and tomato paste, you've got yourself a comforting soup.

The best part of this soup is its well-rounded flavor, but the ingredients make it an easy, accessible, and nutritious option.

Get the ‌‌Easy Greek Lentil Soup recipe and nutrition info from Veggies Save the Day.

17. Vegetarian Lentils With Egg Toast

Seasoned lentils made this egg dish even more nourishing.
Image Credit: Plant Based with Amy
  • Calories:‌ 420
  • Protein:‌ 25 grams

There's no denying eggs and toast can be part of a satisfying meal, and "eggs in a hole" is a super fun way to serve it up. But, when you serve them over seasoned lentils, it takes it up a whole new notch — deliciously and nutritiously.

Lentils seasoned to perfection with plenty of colorful veggies in the mix bumps up the protein and adds satiating fiber. There are 20 grams of fiber in this meal!

Get the ‌‌Vegetarian Lentils with Egg Toast recipe and nutrition info from Plant Based with Amy.

18. Cheesy Lentil Tacos

Seasoned lentils make a splash in these tasty tacos.
Image Credit: Zest Nutrition Services
  • Calories:‌ 570
  • Protein:‌ 30 grams

With this recipe, you can have hearty, flavorful tacos without the meat, and there's no need to sacrifice protein.

Lentils, like other legumes, are considered a type of vegetable, according to the Mayo Clinic. As a carb and a protein source, they are versatile and nutritionally dense.

For optimal taste and satisfaction, the lentils in this dish are sautéed with a traditional taco seasoning (cumin, chili powder, onion, garlic, etc.) and sandwiched with crisp cabbage, diced tomato, and plenty of cheese.

Get the ‌‌Cheesy Lentil Tacos recipe and nutrition info from Zest Nutrition Services.

19. Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Lentils

Butternut squash and lentils make quite the pairing in this satiating meal.
Image Credit: Veggies Save the Day
  • Calories:‌ 606
  • Protein:‌ 32 grams

This dish infuses winter and fall comforts with a colorful, festive appeal. Sweet butternut squash with earthy lentils and tangy Dijon dressing come together in this simple, yet spectacular salad.

What's more, with 32 grams of protein, you will have plenty to stay fueled and satisfied.

Get the Roasted Butternut Squash Salad With Lentils ‌‌recipe and nutrition info from Veggies Save the Day.

20. Red Lentil Chicken Soup

A creamy red lentil base makes this chicken soup sublime.
Image Credit: Feel Good Foodie
  • Calories:‌ 285
  • Protein:‌ 21 grams

Chicken soup for the soul — yes please! This hearty version of the comfort staple delights with its vibrant orange color and variety of spices.

Red lentils cook down to a creamy consistency and lycopene-rich tomatoes keep bright and colorful. Onions and its combo of spices are heated together for a delightful infusion of flavor.

And it's not only comforting — it's nourishing, too. This dish provides a hefty 20 grams of protein, along with plenty of fiber and potassium.

Get the ‌‌Red Lentil Chicken Soup recipe and nutrition info from Feel Good Foodie.

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