How to Make Quick & Easy Mexican Lentil Soup (Montana Style)

For those of us who are looking to incorporate a greater number of pulses and grains – like lentils --into our diets, this recipe is a great one to start with. Mexican lentil soup is a flavorful way to introduce this highly nutritious legume into your current gamut of regular recipes. By doing so, your diet will see an increase in nutrients like B vitamins, magnesium, zinc, potassium, protein, iron, and fiber. Moreover, lentils contain disease-preventing compounds like phytochemicals – a plant compound which can protect against heart disease and type II diabetes.

Check out our Recipe Sampler for more lentil recipes -- including desserts. 

Sounds good, right? Here’s a list of ingredients and the steps you’ll need to get started on improving your diet with this Montana-style version of Mexican lentil soup:


  • 8 cups water
  • ½ tsp (or more to taste) salt
  • 8 oz (pre-washed) Spanish Brown Lentils
  • 1 lb. elk sausage (can use a beef kielbasa or bacon as a substitute for game meat)
  • 2 tbs. olive oil
  • 2 medium tomatoes (whole, fresh)
  • ½ jalapeño pepper, de-seeded, finely diced (or, seeds may be left in if you want more spice)
  • 2 carrots (whole, fresh, peeled and sliced about 1/8 inch slices)
  • ½ onion (fresh, finely diced)
  • 3-4 celery stalks (fresh, finely diced)
  • 2 garlic cloves (minced, garlic doesn’t need to be whole fresh cloves – a pre-minced brand will do just fine)
  • A dash cumin
  • ½ bunch of cilantro (fresh, finely chopped)
  • 2 cups chicken broth (or 2 cubes of chicken bouillon)


The steps followed when making this soup recipe came from a YouTube video which you can check out too. The cook in the video speaks Spanish; however, there are subtitles you can use to follow along if unfamiliar with the Spanish language. Our version of the recipe does not exactly follow the video. Per the title, introduction, and ingredients list, you already know we went ahead and put our own Montana twist on the recipe and the spiciness was reduced. That said, let’s get into it:

  1. Pour 6 cups of water (or if you use seasoning or bouillon, instead of chicken broth you’ll want to increase the amount of boiling water to 8 cups) combined with ½ tsp salt into a large pot. Add lentils to salted water and bring to a boil over medium heat. Once boiling, cover and cook for 20 minutes. Leave the lid propped open on one side so that excessive steam doesn’t cause the water to boil over or the lid to shake. While the lentils boil, continue on with the next two steps.
  2. Being Montanans, we decided to use game meat (elk sausage). If game isn’t to your liking or simply not handy, dice up some beef kielbasa or bacon to substitute. In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, cook the meat of your choosing in 2 tbs. of olive oil. Cook until meat begins releasing fat juices (about 10-15 minutes). Make sure you stir frequently.
  3. As your meat cooks and the lentils boil, dice up your vegetables (tomatoes, jalapeño, carrots, celery, onion, garlic). Dicing all these up ahead of starting any steps saved time, and made the process feel less hurried. Once you have your diced veggies and the meat fat begins to release, add the veggie mixture to the same frying pan as your meat.
    While this is not how they did it in the YouTube video, the flavor absorption that occurs by mixing the meat fats and the veggies together is significant. Cook the meat and veggie mixture over medium-high heat for about 10-15 minutes, or until the vegetables are limp. You can tell when they’re limp by taste-testing a vegetable for crunchiness. If it’s not crunchy, it’s limp. We also lightly salted the meat and veggie mixture to taste. If you’re using game like we did, it is definitely recommended that you do this additional salting as it counters any overt “gaminess.”
  4. Once the vegetable and sausage mixture is fully cooked, dump the entire mixture into the lentils and salted water. Sprinkle a dash of cumin and your finely chopped cilantro and stir everything together thoroughly.
  5. In the YouTube video the cook uses a chicken seasoning, however, we used 2 cups of chicken broth instead simply because it is what we had on hand. Alternatives include the chicken seasoning like in the video or you can use 2 cubes of chicken bouillon. Any of the three options suffice as long as noted in Step 1, that if you don’t use broth and are using seasoning/bouillon instead, you’ll want to increase the amount of boiling water to 8 cups.
  6. Bring combined ingredients to a boil for 10 minutes, covered. Here, like in Step 1, we left the lid propped open on one side of the pot. After 10 minutes, we deviated from the video instructions again, and cooked the soup on low for about an hour. Not only does the lengthier cooking time enhance the flavor of the soup; it also makes your house smell absolutely wonderful!

In the end, we enjoyed a very delicious soup. This recipe is one to recommend to anyone looking to find ways of incorporating lentils into their diet.

Not only is it the perfect comfort food for a rainy day but can also be easily reheated. Try making a double batch, then refrigerating and reheating for a quick leftovers meal or an appetizer dish later in the week. It is tremendously convenient to have a soup that can be kept on-hand and served multiple times. Better yet, as the soup sits in the refrigerator it becomes increasingly flavorful since the ingredients absorb more of the broth over time.

This soup is an excellent way to introduce your palette to lentils and may even become an inspiration to try out more specialty lentil recipes. Check out Timeless Natural Food Recipes for more creative dishes.