Use Canned Soup For More Flavorful Lentil Burgers

In only a few years, veggie burgers have turned from an occasional dish for a cookout to an essential part of any home cook's arsenal. Although only 12% of people usually eat vegan or vegetarian, around 60% of U.S. households now say they at least occasionally eat vegetarian food, according to a 2022 survey conducted by the Vegetarian Resource Group. This represents a seismic shift in culture, especially when you consider that in 1994 barely 1% of the population said they didn't eat meat (via The Hill).

Sometimes vegetarian meals require soaking things like beans for hours. But when you're talking about everyday recipes, hacks that add flavor while saving time, money, and effort are key — and coming to the rescue of the humble veggie burger is the stalwart friend of pantry-raiding cooks everywhere, the can of soup.

Lentil soup is a superb choice for a quick, reliable veggie burger, because not only are the lentils pre-cooked, they are flavored with a depth of seasoning that would take hours to replicate without the can. There are lots of reasons you should be eating more lentils and they're a logical choice for veggie burgers: Thanks to their high levels of protein and micronutrients, they make for a very nutritious meat substitute. Moreover, lentils are thought to be less gas-inducing than other types of legumes, which can be a worry for infrequent bean burger eaters. 

How to make flavorful lentil burgers using a can of soup

The lentils in a can of soup are packed with nutrition, protein, and vegetal flavor, but they're far too wet and loose to eat on a sesame roll. The first step is to drain the liquid from the lentils. Save it for later use in any recipe that requires chicken or vegetable stock.

What will remain is the cooked, seasoned lentils. But even the best substitute for ground meat needs a little help forming into a patty. A raw egg, as well as seasoned breadcrumbs, is the best combination to use — but even with binders, you'll need to break open almost all of the lentils by mashing or blending them into a rough paste in order to get them to come together. If your mix is too dry and crumbly, add more egg or a splash of the reserved soup. If it is too wet and sloppy to form patties easily, add more breadcrumbs to soak up the excess moisture.

Once you have reached a texture that you are confident will hold to form a burger, cook a small test piece to taste to check the seasoning. At this stage, you can adjust the flavor by adding spices, chopped herbs, or other flavorings such as sun-dried tomato or gochujang. Because they tend to fall through grills, lentil burgers are best pan-fried on both sides until golden and crisp.