Hearty and Savory: Authentic Mexican Lentil Soup Recipe

Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese? Sí, por favor! This hearty and aromatic soup packs a flavor punch like no other. It is the perfect combination of earthy lentils, fresh vegetables, and the wonderful creaminess of panela cheese. This soup embodies the essence of Mexican cuisine with its bold flavors and rich aromas.

Lentil soup has long been a staple dish in many cultures for its nourishing properties. However, this particular recipe takes it up a notch by incorporating traditional Mexican ingredients such as panela cheese, onion, garlic, carrot, and ham to create a unique twist on a classic favorite.

This recipe is perfect for those seeking flavorsome vegetarian or vegan options as you can easily opt for meat-free versions by leaving out the ham and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth. It pairs beautifully with crusty bread or tortillas warmed up on the skillet.

So, whether it’s a cold winter evening or a warm summer night, this soup serves as an excellent comfort food option for people looking for bold and delicious flavors. Follow along with me as I guide you through how to recreate this delectable Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese in the comfort of your home.

Why You’ll Love This Recipe

Mexican Lentil Soup With Panela Cheese
Mexican Lentil Soup With Panela Cheese

If you’re on the hunt for a comforting and flavorful soup that is also nutritious and easy to make, look no further than this Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese recipe. This aromatic soup is seasoned with rosemary and thyme and served with crumbled panela cheese, which gives it a distinctive Mexican twist.

What makes this soup so special is its combination of healthy ingredients. Lentils are a great source of plant-based protein and fiber, while carrots and onions add vitamins and minerals. The panela cheese, a soft, fresh Mexican cheese similar to queso fresco or fresh mozzarella, adds richness and depth of flavor without overpowering the other ingredients.

Not only is this soup delicious, but it’s also versatile. You can customize it to your taste by adjusting the seasoning or adding your favorite vegetables. Plus, it’s vegan-friendly if you leave out the ham and cheese or choose a vegan substitute.

Furthermore, this recipe is also perfect for those who are always racing against time. It requires little effort to prepare while still yielding an awesome result for yourself or guests. And what could be better on a cold evening than curling up with a bowl of warm lentil soup?

Lastly, this Mexican lentil soup with Panela cheese recipe introduces you to Mexican food culture in a unique way. Instead of going to restaurants, you can enjoy an authentic flavor right in your own home. So why not give this recipe a try? Your taste buds (and your loved ones) will thank you!

Ingredient List

 A fragrant bowl of goodness that is sure to warm your soul.
A fragrant bowl of goodness that is sure to warm your soul.

To make this Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese, you will need the following ingredients:

  • 1 cup of red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • 5 cups of water
  • 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of diced cooked ham (optional, for non-vegetarian option)
  • 1 tsp of salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 1 tsp of dried rosemary
  • 1 tsp of dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup of crumbled Panela cheese (or substitute with Fresh Mozzarella or Queso Fresco for a similar texture)

For serving:

  • Mexican crema, or sour cream (optional)
  • limes, cut into wedges

This *aromatic soup seasoned with rosemary and thyme is served with crumbled panela cheese, which is Mexican moist farmer cheese that makes a perfect garnish for the soup. To make it vegan, simply omit the ham and use vegetable stock instead of water.

The Recipe How-To

 Just a spoonful of this savory soup will transport your taste buds south of the border.
Just a spoonful of this savory soup will transport your taste buds south of the border.

Preparing this Mexican Lentil Soup With Panela Cheese Recipe is easy and straightforward. Follow these simple steps to achieve a delicious and aromatic soup seasoned with rosemary and thyme, served with panela cheese.

Step 1: Cook the Lentils

Start by cooking 1 cup of red lentils in a pot with 4 cups of water. Add thyme and rosemary and cook for 20-25 minutes until the lentils are tender.

Step 2: Prepare the Onion, Garlic, and Carrot

While the lentils are cooking, chop 1 onion, 1 garlic clove, and 1 carrot into small pieces.

Step 3: Sauté the Vegetables

In a separate pot or large skillet on medium heat, add 3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Once hot, add the chopped onion and cook for 2-3 minutes until it turns translucent. Then, add chopped garlic and sauté for another minute until fragrant. Add chopped carrots to the pot and continue cooking for about 5-6 minutes until they’re soft.

Step 4: Add Ham

Now it’s time to add flavor with ham! Cut ham into small cubes (around half an inch). Add it to the pot with vegetables and cook for about 2-3 minutes.

Step 5: Mix Everything Together

Drain cooked lentils from their pot and add them to the pot with sautéed vegetables and ham. Mix everything well until combined.

Step 6: Cut the Panela Cheese

Cut Panela cheese into small cubes (smaller than ham) or crumble it with your fingers or a fork.

Step 7: Serve It Up!

Serve this hot soup seasoned with rosemary, thyme, and topped off with some cubed Panela cheese. Sprinkle extra cubes of cheese on top or crumble some cotija cheese – another good option instead of Panela – or some queso fresco if you like things extra cheesy!

Enjoy this delicious Mexican Lentil Soup With Panela Cheese Recipe, perfect for a cold night when you want your belly warmed up!

Substitutions and Variations

 Who needs meat when you've got lentils? This soup is packed with protein and flavor.
Who needs meat when you’ve got lentils? This soup is packed with protein and flavor.

If you’re looking to put your own twist on this Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese recipe, there are plenty of substitutions and variations that you can apply without sacrificing the flavor and overall characteristic of the dish. Here are a few ideas:

– Lentils: While the recipe calls for red lentils, green lentils can also be used in this soup. Just keep in mind that green lentils take longer to cook, so adjust the cooking time accordingly.

– Ham: If you’re looking for a vegetarian or vegan option, skip the ham altogether and add some smoked paprika instead for that smoky flavor.

– Panela Cheese: If you can’t find panela cheese in your local grocery store, queso fresco or fresh mozzarella cheese are great alternatives.

– Aromatic Soup Seasoning: You can experiment with different herbs and spices if you want to add more depth to the soup’s aroma. Try using bay leaves or cumin powder instead of thyme and rosemary.

– Vegetable Soup: This recipe is quite versatile, and it can easily be transformed into a delicious vegetable soup by omitting the ham completely and using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth.

– Bean Soup: If you don’t have any lentils at hand or simply want to switch things up, use black beans or pinto beans in place of lentils for a richer, heartier soup.

These are just a few ideas to get you started. Remember, cooking is all about experimentation, so feel free to play around with different ingredients until you find your perfect variation of this Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese recipe.

Serving and Pairing

 A perfect balance of spices and textures make this soup a crowd-pleaser.
A perfect balance of spices and textures make this soup a crowd-pleaser.

(6) Serving and Pairing

This Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese is a hearty and aromatic soup that is sure to warm your soul on a chilly evening. The soup is best served hot and topped with crumbled Panela cheese, which adds a creamy texture and subtle flavor to the dish.

To compliment the earthy flavors of the lentils and herbs, pair this dish with a light-bodied red wine such as Pinot Noir or Gamay. Alternatively, if you prefer beer, try a crisp Mexican lager to cut through the richness of the cheese.

For a complete meal, serve the soup alongside crusty bread, or ladle it over cooked rice or quinoa for added protein. It also pairs well with a fresh green salad dressed with a tangy vinaigrette made with extra virgin olive oil, lemon juice, mustard, and honey.

For an authentic touch of Mexican cuisine, top the soup with diced avocado or dollops of Mexican crema just before serving. Trust us; your taste buds will thank you!

Whether you’re hosting a dinner party or looking for comfort food on a rainy day, this Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese recipe is sure to please your guests and fill your home with delicious aromas. Enjoy!

Make-Ahead, Storing and Reheating

 From the creamy Panela cheese to the tender lentils, every bite is a delight.
From the creamy Panela cheese to the tender lentils, every bite is a delight.

Preparing and storing Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese couldn’t be easier. This soup is incredibly versatile and perfect for meal prep, making it an ideal recipe for busy weeknights.

If you plan to make-ahead, prepare the lentil soup as instructed and let it cool completely before transferring it into an airtight container. The soup can last up to four days in the refrigerator or be stored in the freezer for up to three months. If you want to reheat the soup, transfer it into a saucepan and cook over medium heat until heated through without boiling.

When reheating your soup, make sure to use a low flame so that it doesn’t burn. It’s also essential to stir occasionally, so that everything heats evenly. Adding extra water or broth while reheating is optional but can help revive flavors if they have become muted.

If reheating multiple servings at once, transfer the lentil soup into a microwave-safe dish and heat it covered for approximately two minutes per serving on high until heated thoroughly. Make sure you stir in between each minute of heating, so it’s consistent throughout.

Remember that lentil soup often tastes even better the next day as the flavors deepen and develop. However, cheese tends to become rubbery when reheated frequently, so sprinkle fresh panela cheese on top right before serving to preserve its natural taste and texture.

In conclusion, this aromatic soup seasoned with rosemary and thyme served with panela, is perfect for those who enjoy Mexican food or simply crave vegetarian, vegan or gluten-free options; whether preparing this dish ahead of time or batch cooking for future meals, it’ll taste equally delicious every single time.

Tips for Perfect Results

 This soup isn't just healthy, it's also hearty and satisfying.
This soup isn’t just healthy, it’s also hearty and satisfying.

Lentil soup is a simple and aromatic soup seasoned with rosemary and thyme, served with creamy and crumbly Mexican panela cheese that adds richness to the soup. Making Mexican lentil soup with panela cheese is a straightforward process, but there are specific tips I have learned through my experience that can help you achieve perfect results every time. Here are some of my tried-and-true tips for making the best Mexican lentil soup with panela cheese:

1. Soak lentils before cooking

Soaking the lentils before cooking them can shorten their cooking time and make them easier to digest. You can soak them in lukewarm water for at least one hour or overnight.

2. Add ham or chorizo for flavor

Adding ham or chorizo to the soup can give it a boost of flavor. Fry the meat in a pan with extra virgin olive oil until crisp and add it to the soup once it has been cooked.

3. Roast garlic cloves beforehand

Roasting garlic can make it mellower in flavor and give it a sweet taste. Preheat your oven to 375°F (190°C) and place unpeeled garlic cloves on a baking sheet lightly oiled with olive oil. Roast for 15-20 minutes until soft.

4. Use vegetable broth instead of water

Vegetable broth will give your soup added depth of flavor over using water alone. You can also use chicken or beef broth but using vegetable broth makes this dish vegan-friendly.

5. Add cheese at the end

Panela cheese is a fresh cheese that has high moisture content, so adding it at the end of cooking will ensure that it doesn’t disintegrate into the hot liquid.

By following these simple tips, you can create a delicious pot of Mexican lentil soup with panela cheese in no time!


Now that you know how to make this delicious Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese recipe, you might have some questions about some of the ingredients or steps involved. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of frequently asked questions and their answers that should alleviate any doubts or concerns you may have. So, let’s delve into it!

What is Mexican panela cheese used for?

Queso panela is a versatile Mexican cheese that can enhance the flavors of a wide range of dishes. Crumble it up to add richness to breakfast classics like huevos rancheros or sprinkle it on top of your favorite Mexican dishes like tacos and enchiladas. Alternatively, slice the cheese and use it to elevate the taste of sandwiches like the traditional Mexican cemita or torta.

Does Mexican panela cheese melt?

Panela is a type of cheese that has a crumbly texture but is not as easily crumbled as Queso Fresco. It does not have the ability to melt and is best utilized when sliced or crumbled.

Is panela cheese the same as queso fresco?

Queso panela is a creamy white cheese that has a hint of saltiness to it. It stands out from queso fresco due to its unique method of creation, which involves using skim milk. This results in a cheese that is not only firm but also has a certain degree of pliability.

Is panela cheese the same as mozzarella?

When it comes to cheese, mozzarella has a unique texture that sets it apart from panela. Unlike panela, mozzarella is more stretchy and doesn’t easily break apart. It’s best served in cubes or slices to showcase its pliability. If you’re looking for a substitution, fresh mozzarella can be used in place of panela when making sandwiches or salads. Another advantage of fresh mozzarella is that it can hold up to some heat, so you can safely add it to soups or stews towards the end of the cooking process.

Bottom Line

After going through the entire recipe for Mexican Lentil Soup with Panela Cheese, it’s hard not to fall in love with the unique flavors of this soup. The combination of tender lentils, aromatic rosemary and thyme, fresh vegetables, and rich Panela cheese creates an unparalleled taste that will leave you and your guests delighted.

With a few simple substitutions, such as using vegan or dairy-free cheese, you can easily adapt this recipe to suit your specific preferences or dietary restrictions.

So why not bring a taste of Mexico to your kitchen tonight? With its hearty textures, warm flavors, and healthy ingredients, this soup is a satisfying meal that can brighten up any chilly night.

Give it a try and experience the delight brought about by savoring each spoonful of this delicious lentil soup. We are confident that once you try it out, it will become one of your go-to recipes for a flavorful and comforting meal.

Mexican Lentil Soup With Panela Cheese

Mexican Lentil Soup With Panela Cheese Recipe

Not all Mexican food is fried in lard and full of fat. This is a aromatic soup seasoned with rosemary and thyme and served with Panela (a Mexican moist cheese much like Mozzarella). You can substitute with cotija cheese as well.
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Prep Time 15 mins
Cook Time 1 hr
Course Starter or Soup
Cuisine Mexican
Calories 183.2 kcal


  • 3/4 lb chopped ham
  • 1 cup chopped carrot
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1/4 cup chopped onion
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 7 cups water
  • 5 teaspoons beef bouillon
  • 1 lb lentils
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary
  • 1/2 teaspoon thyme
  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
  • salt (to taste)
  • 12 ounces panela cheese (or cotija cheese)


  • Heat olive oil in a large pot and sauté ham and onions until the onions are tender but not browned.
  • Add garlic and carrots and sauté lightly for 1-2 minutes.
  • Add water, bouillon, lentils, rosemary, thyme, black pepper and salt. Bring to a boil.
  • Reduce heat and cover with a tight fitting lid.
  • Cook until tender (approx 1 hour).
  • Serve with warm corn or flour tortillas and and garnish with panela cheese.

Add Your Own Notes


Serving: 266gCalories: 183.2kcalCarbohydrates: 13.8gProtein: 14.9gFat: 7.8gSaturated Fat: 1.6gCholesterol: 22.2mgSodium: 672.5mgFiber: 5.1gSugar: 2g
Keyword < 4 Hours, Beans, Beginner Cook, Clear Soups, Easy, Grains, Inexpensive, Lentils, Mexican
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