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Lemony Lentil Soup

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This Lemony Lentil Soup recipe is full of bright and zesty flavors, it’s naturally gluten-free and vegan, and it’s easy to make in the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop.

Lemony Lentil Soup

Who’s ready for a light and refreshing bowl of lemony lentil soup? ♡

A record number of you all have been making (and loving!) this lentil soup lately. So for any of you who have yet to give it a try, I thought I would bump this recipe back to the top of the blog for everyone to enjoy.

Quite simply, this is my all-time favorite lentil soup recipe. It was inspired by our favorite Middle Eastern café back in our old neighborhood in Kansas City, whose famous lentil soup I ordered one million times over the years and missed something fierce after we moved away. So a few years ago, I set to work trying to recreate it. And while nothing will compare in our memory to the original, I have to say that I’m really pleased with how my version turned out!

This cozy red lentil soup is simmered with simple mix of veggies, spices and lots of lemon juice to brighten things up. But the restaurant version of the soup also featured two signature ingredients — corn and a pinch of saffron — which add the perfect hint of sweetness that make this soup perfectly-balanced and just lovely. ♡  Barclay and I turn to this soup often because it’s easy to make and full of feel-good ingredients. But most of all, we just love it because it’s crazy-good and will forever remind us of home.

Let’s make some lemony lentil soup together!

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | 1-Minute Video

Lentil Soup Ingredients

Lemony Lentil Soup Ingredients:

To make this lemony lentil soup recipe, you will need the following ingredients:

  • Veggies: A simple mix of white onion, carrots and garlic.
  • Veggie stock: Or you could are welcome to use chicken stock if you prefer.
  • Red lentils: Which I love for this soup because they break down quickly and purée easily.
  • Corn: Just your basic frozen or canned whole-kernel corn.
  • Spices: A cozy mix of ground cumin, curry powder, cayenne and saffron (which is optional, but really delicious if you happen to have some on hand).
  • Fresh lemon: Whose zest and juice we will add to the soup. I also recommend serving the soup with extra lemon wedges, if people would like to make their bowls even more lemony.
  • Salt and black pepper: For seasoning, as always.

Step by step photos for how to make lentil soup

How To Make Lentil Soup:

I have included detailed instructions in the full recipe below for how to make this lentil soup in either an Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop. But here is a quick overview:

  1. Sauté the veggies. I recommend taking an extra few minutes to sauté the onion, carrots and garlic before adding them to the rest of the soup to bring out their best flavors. (This step may require an extra sauté pan, if using a Crock-Pot, or using the sauté feature in the Instant Pot.)  But if you are in a hurry, you can just add these ingredients in with Step 2 below.
  2. Simmer. Stir in the vegetable stock, lentils, corn, cumin, curry powder, cayenne and saffron (if using) until combined. Cover and cook (or pressure cook or slow cook) until the lentils are tender.
  3. Blend (optional). Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.
  4. Season. Stir in the lemon zest and juice. Then season the soup with a few generous pinches of salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Serve. Serve warm, garnished with an extra lemon slice, and enjoy!

Red lentil soup in pot

Possible Variations:

Feel free to experiment and customize this soup however you might like! For example, you could…

  • Serve the soup chunky. Just skip the puréeing step and enjoy the soup as-is!
  • Make it spicier. Add extra cayenne if you would like to give the soup a bit more heat.
  • Add fresh herbs. Fresh mint and/or cilantro would also be delicious served with this soup.
  • Add yogurt. Feel free to also serve the soup garnished with plain yogurt for a creamy twist.
  • Add greens. You could also stir some fresh baby spinach or chopped kale into the soup just before serving if you’d like to add some greens.

Lemony Red Lentil Soup in Bowls

More Lentil Soup Recipes:

Looking for more easy lentil soup recipes to try? Here are a few of my faves:

Closeup of Lemony Lentil Soup in Bowl

Print
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Lemony Lentil Soup

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 the best bright and zesty flavors, it’s naturally gluten-free and vegan, and it’s easy to make in the Instant Pot, Crock-Pot or on the stovetop.


Ingredients

Scale

Instructions

Stovetop Instructions:

  1. Sauté the veggies. 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. Simmer. 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. Blend (optional). Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  (If using a traditional blender, please see notes below.)
  4. Season. Stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with a generous pinch or two of fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed.
  5. Serve. Serve warm, garnished with an extra fresh lemon slice if desired.

Instant Pot (Pressure Cooker) Instructions:

  1. Sauté the veggies (optional). Press the “Sauté” button on your Instant Pot.  Add oil and let it heat until shimmering. 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. Cook. Stir in the vegetable stock, lentils, corn, cumin, curry powder (plus saffron and cayenne, if using) until combined. Cover the pot and set vent to “Sealing”. Cook on high pressure for 8 minutes, followed by a quick release.
  3. Blend. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  (If using a traditional blender, please see notes below.)
  4. Season. Stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with a generous pinch or two of fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed.
  5. Serve. Serve warm, garnished with an extra fresh lemon slice if desired.

Crock-Pot (Slow Cooker) Instructions:

  1. Slow cook. 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 combine.  (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. Blend. Using either a hand blender or traditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.  (If using a traditional blender, please see notes below.)
  3. Season. Stir in the lemon zest and juice until combined.  Taste and season the soup with a generous pinch or two of fine sea salt and black pepper, as needed.
  4. Serve. Serve warm, garnished with an extra fresh lemon slice if desired.


Notes

Traditional blender instructions: If using a traditional blender to purée the soup, please exercise caution (as always) as hot liquids expand when blended.  I would recommend blending the soup in two batches, so as not to overflow your blender.  I always slightly tent open the cap on the blender lid (or gently place a kitchen towel over the cap opening) so that excess hot air can escape while the hot soup is being blended.  Once the soup is ready to go, return it to the stockpot and continue on with the recipe.

Sautéing the veggies: I really recommend sautéing the onions, carrots, garlic if you can before cooking them in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, in order to give them the best flavor. But if you’re in a rush, no worries, you can skip the sauté and just add them in together with all of the other ingredients. :)

Storage instructions: Any leftovers can be refrigerated in a food storage container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Source: Recipe inspired by my favorite lentil soup from Aladdin Cafe in Kansas City.

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Recipe rating

427 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

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  1. This was a great Lentil soup recipe. It introduced me to lemon and garlic, and I really liked it. Thank you for sharing.

  2. Why are my lentils hard and the soup did not come out yellow but a bit brownish. I might have used the wrong type of beans.

    • You probably used brown lentils instead of red ones, they have a different flavor, more earthy and they take longer to cook.

  3. Love the mix of spices and great suggestions of amping it up. Comes together so quickly and freezes well, so I can double it up for a quick and easy lunch or dinner.

  4. Delicious and easy. Added a bit of coconut milk and it was heavenly.

  5. This has become my FAVORITE lentil soup! I do add a can of pumpkin purée which helps it thicken and adds even more healthy nutrients. I also increase the carrots to 4 and add chopped celery. Yum, it’s so good!

    • Adding pumpkin sounds amazing! At what point in the recipe do you add it? I’m planning on cooking in my slow cooker this week. Thanks!

  6. Great lentil soup! It tastes more complicated than it is. Next time I will do it like in the video with slices of lemon and extra pepper on top. This is a keeper!

  7. Delicious Delicious Delicious!!! Bought an immersion blender so I could make this… recipe did not disappoint. Will be making this often..thanks ???

  8. Restaurant quality. I usually make lentil soup that has spinach in it. I never made anything with red lentils. This one is awesome. Loved it.

  9. LOVE LOVE LOVE!!! Making this soup for the second time in four days because we couldn’t get enough. Thank you for sharing.???

  10. Mine came out brown, which makes sense when the recipe called for red lentils instead of yellow as in the pictures. Needed more lemon juice in my opinion and it was a bit bland before I added more. Overall, I found it to be quite delicious and I will play around with the spices a bit next time.

  11. Thank you! Thank you! I’ve made lentil soup before, but this one was much lighter and tastier. The saffron was a great addition. Next time, I’m going to try your suggestion and add fresh mint!

  12. This soup is a huge favorite in our family!

  13. My husband and I loved this so much! And so easy to make!

  14. Such a delicious soup! The lemon zest and juice adds a beautiful brightness. Yum!!!

  15. I love this soup, it’s delicious, one of my favorites! I’m wondering if I could add tomatoes? I have extra bounty from the garden this summer. Thanks!

  16. So good. I’ve made this many times and it has turned into a family favorite. Everyone loves it.

  17. This is one of my favorite soups to take to work! Simple and delicious. I do not blend mine.

  18. Just made this soup and it’s absolutely delicious!

  19. I make this all the time. My family loves it. Thank you!

  20. Do you think this would work with diced chicken added? Can’t wait to try this!

  21. Made this fall comfort soup recipe yesterday.
    Love the lemon zest/juice addition to enhance the flavour.
    I made as recommended including punches of cayenne and saffron. Delicious.
    Thanks

  22. Amazing recipe for a cold day! So yummy!

  23. This is always my go-to soup! Can’t get any better and everyone loves it.

  24. I have tried a number of lentil soup recipes and this one is my favorite. I substituted one of the teaspoons of ground cumin for a teaspoon of freshly ground coriander and added the juice of an extra half lemon and it was perfect.

  25. Great soup will make it my favorite

  26. This is one of my favourite soups. When I have friends over in the cooler months, they request this for dinner often. I’ll make this for the rest of my life! Thank you!

  27. This soup was absolutely delicious. I omitted the corn but toasted and seasoned some pine nuts and sprinkled on top.

  28. Excellent

  29. I LOVE to make soup in the winter, and this is the most surprising and delicious soup that I can ever remember making. The flavor has so much depth and brightness. I will be making this one over and over. YUM.

  30. This recipe turned out great! Perfect for a cold Canadian night when you want something nourishing and hearty. It tastes even better after sitting in the fridge for a couple of days. We enjoy spice so a full tsp of cayenne went into our soup. Perfect level of heat for us!

  31. This recipe is AMAZING! It’s become a staple for me! Thank you so much for sharing!

  32. Great tasting soup after adjusting the spices. I like a lot of spice. Doubled the garlic, cumin, curry powder. Added more cayenne until it had a good zip. And also added some paprika. I used homemade chicken broth too. This will be added to our regular rotation and I look forward to playing around with other ingredients next time (chickpeas, spinach, maybe pumpkin as someone else suggested). Lots of possibilities here!

  33. This is definitely one of my favourite soups!!! I’ve made it about 4 times this winter and it never disappoints. The lemon zest and juice puts it over the top! To the cumin and curry I add a touch of smoked paprika but I don’t alter the recipe as I love the balance of flavours. Thank you!

  34. Just wanted to let you know that my husband and I love this soup sooooo much. Your new photos are beautiful too, by the way!

  35. Absolutely loved this soup. For me on WW it was zero points. I enjoyed it so much. The only thing I changed were the spices. I used a few things I had in my cabinet.. I had Garam Marsala. Tasted great and so easy.
    Thank you!

  36. Do I have to rinse lentils in water before putting in the pot or as is??

  37. Love this soup, I make it all the time and love that it uses pantry staples I already have on hand. Also, bonus, my very picky two year old gobbles it up.

  38. Love your blog and this recipe!! Yum! Planning a trip to Missouri as I used to live at the Lake of the Ozarks. Thank you!! Amazing!!😘

  39. Oh am meant to say, I am planning to stop at the Aladdin Cafe.

  40. Very good! I was able to make it Whole Food Plant Based by eliminating the oil and using vegetable broth. Needed to cook longer to soften the lentils, but I was impatient. I also only pureed half the soup to keep it more chunky and added a big handful of fresh spinach at the very end. Pretty and delicious.

  41. Just made this for lunch and it was easy and delicious! My family really enjoyed it. Thank you!!

  42. I really enjoyed this recipe. I added mint and reduced the seasonings since they are very powerful. I used 1/2 tsp of curry and cumin and added 1/2 tsp of turmeric.
    Thank you for this amazing recipe!

  43. This soup is delicious! My mom and I have both fallen in love with it.
    It’s hearty and filling, a perfect cold weather soup.
    Thanks so much for sharing!

  44. SO easy, SO delicious, everything I want in a hearty soup. I’m usually intimidated by cooking, especially a soup, but this was so easy. I couldn’t find my saffron and used chicken stock instead of veggie stock but wow, I will definitely be adding this to my recipe box. I’ve been eating it for breakfast!

  45. I am sorry to report that I found this soup disappointing, flavor-wise. The only flavor I got was cumin; there was no lemon flavor at all, even though I used a good-aized lemon and all the zest. I was really hoping this would be the keeper lentil soup recipe I’ve been looking for. Note that I did add a little poached chicken at the end to up the protein levels to what we need.

  46. Terrific, made in the pressure cooker and it couldn’t be easier. Love the seasonings and the corn adds some subtle sweetness. A favorite

  47. Delicious. Healthy.