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Nopal Lentil Soup

Nopal Lentil Soup

Nopales, or Prickly Pears, are the flat pads of edible cacti. They have a lovely lemony flavor and lightly thicken the soup much as okra would. Here is a Mexican style lentil soup with nopales.

Serves 6.


  • 2 cactus pads or nopales
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 1 poblano pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp Mexican oregano
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and chopped
  • 1-12 oz can tomato sauce or pasta sauce
  • 1 c dry lentils, washed and drained
  • 4 c vegetable broth
  • 4 c water
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp sea salt (less if using salty broth)


  1. Wash nopales and run a knife at a slant down their surfaces including the edges to remove all spines. (No need to peel them!) Cut into 1 inch matchsticks.
  2. Heat oil in a Dutch oven or large heavy pot over medium heat. Add onion, poblano and nopales. Saute 5 minutes. Add garlic and oregano and saute another minute.
  3. Stir in the carrot, tomato sauce, lentils, broth, water, pepper, and bay leaf. Bring to a boil.
  4. Reduce heat to low, partially cover, and simmer 2 hours or until the lentils are tender. Stir in the salt. Serve hot.

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