Meatless Monday: Lentil Soup with Cashew Cream

This entry was posted on Apr 2, 2018 by Charlotte Bell.

Lentil Soup

I use my pressure cooker all the time to cook dried beans. The long cooking times for most legumes can lead one to using canned beans. Using a pressure cooker cuts the time way down. Lentils and split peas cook quickly though, so I’ve always cooked them from scratch. Until last week, I never considered pressure cooking lentils.

I decided to try pressure cooking when I read this recipe in The New Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone by Deborah Madison. The title intrigued me: Lentil Soup with Walnut-Marjoram Cream in the Pressure Cooker. Truth be told, it was the walnut-marjoram cream that made me take notice.

Anyway, I made this lentil soup last week and it was a wonderful combination of flavors. The cream elevated an already tasty but simple soup.

The recipe gives you several options for the cream: sour cream, cream or cashew cream. Because I love cashew cream and I avoid dairy as much as possible, I chose to make the cashew cream. If you instead use sour cream or heavy cream, this recipe will be very easy.

If you choose to make cashew cream, the only do-ahead is to soak the cashews. I covered the cashews with a couple inches of water in the morning and by the time I got around to making the soup in the afternoon, they were ready to go. Make sure you refrigerate them while they’re soaking.

You can, of course, make the lentil soup without the pressure cooker. Instead of bringing to pressure and cooking for 15 minutes, you can instead bring to a boil, lower the heat, and cook the veggies and lentils for 30-40 minutes.

Lentil Soup with Walnut-Marjoram Cream in the Pressure Cooker


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, about 1-1/2 cups chopped
  • 2 celery stalks, diced, about 1/2 cup
  • 1 heaping teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons sea salt (I used 1 teaspoon)
  • 1 cup green lentils, rinsed
  • Freshly milled pepper

Walnut-Marjoram Cream

  • 1 plump garlic clove
  • Sea salt
  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, cream, or Savory Cashew Cream (this is what I used)
  • 2 tablespoons chopped marjoram or parsley
  1. Heat the oil in  your pressure cooker. Add the onion, celery and thyme, give a stir, and cook over medium-high heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until the onions are golden, limp and starting to brown in places.
  2. Add the salt, lentils, and 5 cups of water, then fasten the lid and bring the pressure to high. Maintain the pressure for 15 minutes, which will yield very soft lentils, then release quickly. Use the back of a wooden or other big spoon with a long handle to release the pressure so that you don’t get too close to the steam.
  3. Make the cream while the lentils are cooking: Pound the garlic in a mortar with a few pinches of salt until broken down, then add the walnuts and gradually break them down with sour cream and marjoram. This can also be done in a small food processor if your mortar is too small.
  4. If you’re using cashew cream, follow the recipe below, then follow step 3 to finish it.
  5. Purée the lentils in a blender until perfectly smooth. Taste for salt.
  6. Serve the soup hot with a big spoonful of the sauce in each bowl. Grind pepper over the whole thing if you like.

Savory Cashew Cream

  • 1 cup raw, unsalted cashews
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt or smoked salt
  • Freshly milled pepper
  • Smoked paprika, optional if you use smoked salt

Cover the cashews with water and refrigerate overnight (or cover with water in the morning for use later on in the day). Drain and put them in a mini-food processor with 1/4 cup water, olive oil, cilantro, garlic and salt. Pulse until smooth, light and creamy. You may need to add another tablespoon or two of water. Taste for salt and add more if needed. Scrape into a bowl, season with pepper and dust with the paprika.

About Charlotte Bell
Charlotte Bell discovered yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. Charlotte is the author of Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life: A Guide for Everyday Practice and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. Her third book is titled Hip-Healthy Asana: The Yoga Practitioner’s Guide to Protecting the Hips and Avoiding SI Joint Pain (Shambhala Publications). She writes a monthly column for CATALYST Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. Charlotte is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, Charlotte plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and folk sextet Red Rock Rondo, whose DVD won two Emmy awards in 2010.

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