Lemony Lentil Soup

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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 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

Casa Perris Barcelona

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.

Lemony Lentil Soup Ingredients

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.

How To Make Lentil Soup

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!

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!

Lentil Soup with Lemon

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The BEST Lentil Soup Recipe

Lemony Lentil Soup

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x

Description

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.


Scale

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

Instructions

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.

Notes

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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237 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

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  1. Loved this soup, thank you! I’ve been on a bit of a lentil soup kick the past little while, and this is the third and best recipe I’ve tried. Wonderful lemon flavor. I followed the recipe exactly and found the soup a bit thinner than I like- easy fix though as next time I’ll cut down the amount of broth. I also added a bunch of chopped spinach at the end because I like to get my greens in where I can and I love spinach!

  2. This lentil soup was great! a lot lighter and more of a fresh taste than other lentil soups I make (which are usually loaded down with tomato product and paprika). I also added diced parsnips to this because I had some I needed to use up. I used the instant pot method but I think 8 minutes was a bit too long for my preference. Overall really glad I tried this recipe!

  3. My new favorite lentil soup recipe! The lemon lightens it up and makes it so delicious. Only changes I made were using canned corn (still good!), added a little coconut cream and shredded kale at the end of cooking, and served with cilantro, scallions and avocado on top. Yum!!!

  4. What can we use other than corn?

  5. a go-to recipe for me – sometimes I add spinach and more lemon, but, the recipe is perfect as is! thank you

  6. This was so good!! Any idea what the nutritional information is?

  7. This soup. OMG. I’m so sad I did’t make a double batch and it’s all gone now. Will definitely make a bigger batch so I can freeze some for easy reheats!

  8. This is the best lentil soup I’ve made. So easy, too! I just love it!

  9. First soup in my life, i was uncertain but at the end it was amafuckinzing.

  10. Such a fresh filling healthy soup! Made it many times, husband and I LOVE it.

  11. SQUEEEEE! I came here from a “Mediterranean lentil soup recipe Instant Pot” search. I was hoping to find a good starting point for a recipe to tweak into my favorite hometown lentil soup, which is, by total serendipity, Aladdin’s on 39th in KC!! 100% agree that it is the best, and now I’m so stinking excited to try this~!~

  12. Really tasty and so simple to make. Added a large can of mushrooms (would have used fresh if I’d had any), didn’t have fresh or frozen corn so used a can of corn, didn’t add saffron or cayenne. Tastes a lot like the lentil soup at my local Middle Eastern restaurant. Will be making this again.

  13. What kind of curry do you use? I’m not really a curry fan, but I adore spicy foods. Is there another spice you would recommend?

  14. It’s a great recipe, especially with the corn. I know this is a vegan recipe, but it would taste awesome with some dark turkey meat…just saying. :D

  15. This is truly an amazing soup, easy to prepare and super healthy and delicious. I used more garlic and more lemon than it calls for, but super recipe.

  16. This was awesome! I absolutely loved it and ill have food to put in my freezer which will be great for right now. I didnt have any corn but it still turned out great.

  17. Awesome recipe! Made it today for lunch since I’m stuck working at home. I didn’t have saffron but it’s still delicious without. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  18. Haaha.!! I was searching for a recipe with.. wait for it….. Aladins soup in mind. Went there 3 times last month just for the soup. And how crazy that I stumbled upon a person making this very Kansas City restaraunts recipe. . In the gigantic world wide web.. and you were the first one I clicked on. Yay! And thanks.

  19. Looks great. I will make it. Technique similar to a Tuscan white bean & kale soup I just made that turned out great.
    I’m thinking that this is a dish that might benefit from some Lobster or crabmeat mounded on top and maybe served room temp, slightly chilled in the Summer, or hot.
    I live in New England & these seafood options are more readily available here.
    I’ve downloaded -and cooked, several of your contributions , so much thanks for that. Keep up the good work
    Rik Wun

  20. I don’t have red but I have green and yellow could I substitute either or both for the red lentils? Never made lentil soup but I really think this sounds DELICIOUS