Lemony Lentil Soup

This Lemony Lentil Soup recipe is full of amazing flavor, it’s made with all sorts of healthy ingredients, it’s naturally vegan and gluten-free, and it’s so incredibly comforting and delicious.  Stovetop, Instant Pot (pressure cooker), and Crock-Pot (slow cooker) instructions included.

The BEST Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe

We have been eating an inordinate amount of lentil soup around here lately…

…due in large part to the inordinate amount of lentils that, um, keep getting added to our pantry.

What can I say?  The adorableness of our neighborhood is fully to blame.  😄  Turns out that Barcelona’s most charming little bulk/health/natural food store, Casa Perris, happens to be located literally just around the corner from our apartment here.  And oh my goodness, you guys, I couldn’t love this little place more.

The shop itself is over 75 years old, and is located on one of my favorite plazas in the neighborhood (which happens to be awash with the most golden sunlight in the mornings when I go grocery shopping).  And it is filled every kind of nut, seeds, spices, flours, pastas, dried fruits, rices, beans, dried mushrooms, chocolates, jams, and nearly every other bulk ingredient you could imagine…including a literal rainbow of lentils for sale.  All in enormous 4-foot burlap bags.  Super affordably priced.  Right by the register.

I mean, what’s a lentil-loving girl to do?

Perfect my all-time favorite lemony lentil soup recipe, that’s what.  😉

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | 1-Minute Video

 

Shopping for lentils for this Lemony Lentil Soup recipe

Well, speaking of adorable neighborhoods, I should note that we’ve specifically been trying to recreate our favorite lentil soup recipe from Barclay’s cute neighborhood Mediterranean restaurant in Kansas City…that’s what.

Anyone in KC will tell you that Aladdin Cafe‘s lentil soup is hands-down the best in the city.  And Barclay and I couldn’t agree more.  We used to walk down the block and bring home an order of lentil soup to go probably at least once a week when he lived there.  And it was one of the few soups in the world that neither of us ever grew tired of.  (<– Ha, which is good, since we’ve been eating it non-stop here these past few weeks.)

We both loved it because their lentil soup recipe seemed so uniquely fresh and light.  Not heavy at all.  Not overloaded with spices.  Not really even spicy at all.  Just a delightful, simple soup that always hit the spot…and one that we’ve been missing a lot here.

The BEST Lentil Soup Recipe

So on a day that we happened to be missing it big-time, I decided to pull up Aladdin’s website to see if they gave any hints about how on earth they seasoned their magical soup.  And as it turns out — their secret ingredients were right there for the world to see on their menu!  😂  (Ha, clearly we hadn’t picked up an actual menu of theirs in ages or I would have caught this years ago.)

Turns out, what gives their soup that ever-so-slightly sweet flavor is a simple ingredient — corn!  🤔  I’ve gotta admit, I didn’t see that one coming, but it makes so much sense.  The sweet corn flavor pairs perfectly with the bright lemon and warm curry spices, it helps give the soup a bit of texture, and it gives the soup an even more lovely golden color.

Aladdin’s other secret ingredient is one that seemed a little meant-to-be for us making this soup now in Spain — saffron.  💃🏻  We have been loving the fact that Spanish saffron is so fabulously affordable and widely-available here (<– like literally, it’s sold at the register in nearly every convenience store around town), and love that extra depth of flavor it adds.  BUT.  That said, I know it’s expensive and not as easy to track down sometimes in the States.  So I’ve tested this recipe with and without it, and it’s delicious either way.  So no pressure there.

Another thing I’ve always loved about Aladdin’s soup is that it’s super lemony, which we both loveLemon just instantly brightens up any lentil soup, and is the starring ingredient in my version here.

Vegetarian Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe

Alright.  So naturally, once we saw that list of ingredients, we had to try out a batch of lemony lentil soup with corn and saffron for ourselves.  And sure enough, it instantly tasted like we were right back home on 39th street in Kansas City.

Soooooo unbelievably good, you guys!

Actually, SO good that we’ve probably made at least a half dozen batches of the soup this month, tinkering around with the ingredient amounts here and there each batch until it was just right.  And now, I think this one officially wins the award for my all-time favorite lentil soup recipe.  I love it so much!

The BEST Vegetarian Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe

And so do our friends!  Actually, our friends who were over for dinner last night said to tell you — in their words — that it was “perfecto”.  So here’s to hoping you all love it too!

I’ve included instructions below for how to make it on the stovetop, or in the slow cooker or Instant Pot.  (But honestly, the stovetop route takes about the same amount of time as the Instant Pot, so just a heads up there.)  I also recommend pureeing the soup once it has cooked, but you’re welcome to leave it more chunky if you prefer.

Enjoy, everyone!

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe in bowls

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Lemony Lentil Soup

This Lemony Lentil Soup recipe is full of amazing flavor, it’s made with all sorts of feel-good ingredients, and it’s so incredibly comforting.

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 medium carrots, diced
  • 5 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
  • 6 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock)
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • 2/3 cup whole-kernel corn
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • (optional) pinch each of saffron and cayenne
  • zest and juice of 1 small lemon
  • sea salt and freshly-cracked black pepper

Directions:

Stovetop:

  1. Heat oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add onion and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.
  2. Stir in the vegetable stock, lentils, corn, cumin, curry powder (plus saffron and cayenne, if using) until combined.  Continue cooking until the soup reaches a simmer.  Then cover and cook for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the lentils are completely tender.
  3. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do this in batches if you’re using a traditional blender.  And always be careful, since hot liquids expand while blending.  (I like to leave my soup slightly chunky, but you can make yours as smooth as you’d like.)
  4. Return the pureed soup to the pot, and stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with sea salt and black pepper as needed.  (I used about 1.5 teaspoons salt and 0.5 teaspoon black pepper.)
  5. Serve warm.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker):

  1. Press “Sauté”.  Add oil to the bowl of your Instant Pot.  Then add onion* and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft and translucent.  Add garlic and sauté for 1 more minute, stirring occasionally, until fragrant.  Press “Cancel”.
  2. Stir in the vegetable stock, lentils, corn, cumin, curry powder (plus saffron and cayenne, if using) until combined.
  3. Close lid securely and set vent to “Sealing”.
  4. Press “Manual”, then press “Pressure” until the light on “High Pressure” lights up, then adjust the +/- buttons until time reads 8 minutes.  Cook.  Then very carefully, turn the vent to “Venting” for quick release, and wait until all of the steam has released and the valve has dropped.  Remove the lid.
  5. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do this in batches if you’re using a traditional blender.  And always be careful, since hot liquids expand while blending.  (I like to leave my soup slightly chunky, but you can make yours as smooth as you’d like.)
  6. Return the pureed soup to the Instant Pot, and stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with sea salt and black pepper as needed.  (I used about 1.5 teaspoons salt and 0.5 teaspoon black pepper.)
  7. Serve warm.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Crock-Pot (Slow Cooker):

  1. Add onion, carrots, garlic, vegetable stock, lentils, corn, cumin, curry powder (plus saffron and cayenne, if using) to the bowl of a large slow cooker, and stir to combined.  (No olive oil needed.)  Cover and cook on high for 2-3 hours, or on low for 5-6 hours, until the lentils are completely tender.
  2. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  You may need to do this in batches if you’re using a traditional blender.  And always be careful, since hot liquids expand while blending.  (I like to leave my soup slightly chunky, but you can make yours as smooth as you’d like.)
  3. Return the pureed soup to the slow cooker, and stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with sea salt and black pepper as needed.  (I used about 1.5 teaspoons salt and 0.5 teaspoon black pepper.)
  4. Serve warm.  Or refrigerate in a sealed container for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 3 months.

Inspired by the magical lentil soup at Aladdin Cafe in Kansas City.

*I really recommend sautéing your onions, carrots, garlic if you can before cooking them in the Instant Pot or slow cooker.  (I always think the flavor is so much better.)  But that said, if you’re in a rush, you can just toss them in at the same time as your other ingredients. :)

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108 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

  1. This was delicious! my new favorite lentil soup!

    Rating: 5
  2. So very good! Loved the lemon kick. I’ll be making these lentils often. Thank you for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
  3. Family loved this soup. Will make this again. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

    Rating: 5
  4. I finally made this last week, it is SO GOOD! I’m making it again right now! Thank you, I’m always looking for vegan dishes, and ways to incorporate lemons from out lemon tree!

    Rating: 5
  5. Ideas on what would be a good accompaniment to this soup? Hubby often prefers something with his soup. For example if it’s black bean soup, tortilla chips and avacado, or if tomato soup, a grilled “cheese”

  6. Yum! We loved it! My husband took leftovers for lunch twice. I didn’t get any because he raved over it so much, I let him have it all! Next time I”ll try doubling the recipe! I love cooking with lentils!

    Rating: 5
  7. I put the bread maker on and the started this soup thinking I’ll have that for dinner. The bread takes 4 1/2 hours but the soup was ready in no time. I just ate 2 bowls and I’m thinking….there won’t be any soup left by the time the bread is done. Really enjoyed this soup. Many things for introducing me to something way out of my box. Truly enjoyed.
    👏🏻❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🇨🇦

    Rating: 5
  8. Made this today and this was a fantastic soup! Used less cumin (personal taste). Will definitely make this often and double the amounts. Thanks for sharing.

    Rating: 5
  9. Absolutely gorgeous!!!

    Rating: 5
  10. Absolutely the bizz! Delicious with a naan bread, who needs more than this?

  11. So delicious and easy! I made it stovetop in my stock pot. I like it better than my favorite local middle eastern restaurant!

    Rating: 5
  12. Delicious! My 7 month old son loved it, too!! Thank you!

  13. Fast and easy to make, addition of lemon was so good. Delicious, will definitely make again and again. Thank you for the recipe

    Rating: 5
  14. Tried tonite for a cozy rainy day meal – super easy – super delicious. I may go a bit lighter on the cayenne as mine was pretty fresh and had some serious kick! Delicious – highly recommend. Quick, delicious.

    Rating: 4
  15. Healthy and Delish!! I am hooked on this soup. Thank you for sharing

  16. I’m dying to see how this compares to MY favorite- Holy Land Cafe in Lenexa. I dream about that soup.

  17. Great twist on a basic lentil soup. Perfect seasoning, rich and delicious flavor. Being quick and easy to make is just a bonus! Thanks for a terrific recipe.

    Rating: 5
  18. I’m from KC (and lived here my whole life) I can’t wait to try this!

  19. I made this today and it was delicious. I did the IP version and used saffron because I had some threads on hand, but no cayenne. The lemon flavor really comes through without being overpowering. Would definitely make this again.

    Rating: 5
  20. It wouldn’t work with green lentils, would it?

  21. This is delicious! A relatively easy and quick soup to make, and significant. The lemon element is so crazy good and I’m excited for my 2 year old to try this tomorrow. She seriously loves lemon so I’m hoping it’ll make her take the blended lentils and veg that come with it! :)

    Rating: 5
  22. We made this soup last night for dinner and it was absolutely delicious! My husband and I both loved the sweetness from the corn and freshness the lemon added. Unique, light and very flavorful – perfect comfort food for summer. We will definitely be making this again!

    Rating: 5
  23. I definitely plan to try this recipe. I love the lentil soup from Aladdin’s Cafe, far superior to Jerusalem Cafe’s (although I do enjoy theirs as well). I am currently living in Romania so I miss the many tastes of KC.
    Thanks for the great recipe.

  24. Fabulous soup. Everyone was amazed at the lemon and wanted more! I halved the spices because I didn’t want a curry soup.

    Rating: 5
  25. Utterly delicious! I omitted the corn, and substituted the carrots with broccoli!
    Wonderful soup!

    Rating: 5
  26. I was looking for a lentil soup that I could eat cold (writing this in July from the Northeast) and I just KNEW I’d find something delicious on your site :) This soup is easy to make with inexpensive ingredients, and it’s delicious. I left it really chunky and added a scoop of plain yogurt on top. Love it! Thanks for all the amazing and creative ideas!

    Rating: 5
  27. Very nice perfect seasonings
    followed the recipe exactly

    Rating: 4
  28. There’s a middle eastern restaurant near me that has a delicious lentil rice soup. When I saw this pop up in my Pinterest feed, I thought it looked like a close match. I made this last night and was absolutely delicious. It wasn’t exactly the same, but it was so good, who cares. Definitely a keeper. Thank you!

    Rating: 5
  29. Does it works with brown lentils?

  30. Delicious, delicious, delicious! My new favorite lentil soup.

  31. This was very quick and easy…and delish. Served with a dollop of Greek yoghurt; it went very nicely with the lemon.

    Rating: 5
  32. Such an easy, delicious soup! I made it on my stovetop and cut back a bit on the lemon since it’s not my favorite flavor, and it was still great. I’ve been trying to recreate my favorite lentil soup from the local Lebanese bistro, and this comes close! Thanks for the great recipe :)

    Rating: 5
  33. This soup is called 3ardes, its traditionally made in morocco, egypt, Libya, and Palestine. I think it’s great that westerners are trying middle eastern and Northern African recipes, but give credit where it’s due and don’t just call it lentil soup, it has a name. It’s popular amongst the Berber and middle eastern, regions. It has a geographical and religious significance in the region and it is a soup commonly made during the month of Ramadan, and the traces of the traditional recipe go back as far as the Byzantine empire. To reiterate, cool you posted the recipe, but it’s not an original recipe and it’s a recipe with origins and roots so why not call it what it is… 3ardes soup!!!!

  34. Awesome wonderful recipe. I am enjoying now. I used whole cumin seeds thrown in with the onions and the hot oil. It is done in Indian (India) food. It accents the lemon flavor.
    Yes, blenderizing it was a good choice. It make it smooth. I like textured food but it was better blenderized.
    Definite keeper. My go to recipe.

    Rating: 5
  35. I once had a recipe for a green lentil soup that I loved but lost it years ago – it also had corn in it. Never since then I have found one to equal it – until now! This recipe is super easy and absolutely delicious. I used the basic stove atop method and it only took me about 10 minutes to put together. The lemon juice/zest really makes it. Yum!

  36. I am so excited I found your recipe since I was looking for a way to recreate the best lentil soup which as you know is at the best restaurant “Aladdin Cafe in Kansas City on 39th.” Something about it is as healing as chicken noodle soup. I look forward to trying this recipe tomorrow.

  37. OMG ! I cant wait!! amaizing….With naan bread!!!

  38. healthy ! love lentil soup

    Rating: 5
  39. So… is the corn raw or cooked?

  40. I love this recipe! So filling and delicious. I’ll be making this often!

    Rating: 5
  41. LOVED this! very easy and will make it many more times

    Rating: 5
  42. Tonight I made this for the second time. I used my instant pot. The first time I followed the recipe exactly. This time I added a half of a head of cabbage because I needed to use it up. It was incredibly delicious both times. I love the lemon flavor in this. It really does pop. And it is so incredibly quick and easy to make. Thanks for a fantastic recipe that I will make over and over.

    Rating: 5
  43. Really delicious & simple to make. I will definitely be making this again!

    Rating: 4
  44. delish!!!!! will make again

    Rating: 5
  45. Made this for dinner tonight. Delish! I only blended half of the soup, and left the other half untouched for texture. Five stars!

    Rating: 5
  46. Great soup and I too needed to find a way to make Jerusalem Cafe’s lentil soup when I moved away and had a Turkish friend translate his favorite lentil soup and have been making that since. Instead of corn it has a Tablespoon of rice and one potato added to thicken. I add both lemon and dried mint. I was super happy to have another KC native try to figure out how to make this awesome soup. Loved yours!

    Rating: 4
  47. Perfectly delic!

    Rating: 5
  48. Omg this soup is SUPERB!!! I can’t wait for my toddlers to try it for lunch tomorrow, they LOVE lentils:) Thank you for this gem!!!

    Rating: 5