Lemony Lentil Soup

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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.

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe

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 recipe while we have all been staying at home these past few months.  So for any of you who have yet to give it a try — or any of you who may be searching for ways to use up all of those lentils stockpiled in your pantry — 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 approximately one million times over the years and missed like crazy once we moved away from the city.  So I set to work a few years ago trying to recreate it, and I think that I came really close here!

The recipe itself is actually quite simple.  Red lentils are simmered until softened and combined with a 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.

If you haven’t tried it yet, I can’t recommend this one enough!

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | 1-Minute Video

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 also use chicken stock, if that’s what you have on hand.
  • Red lentils: Which I love for this soup because they break down 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 (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.

Lemony Lentil Soup Ingredients

How To Make Lentil Soup:

I have included detailed instructions 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 really 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 the best of their flavors.  (This may require an extra sauté pan, if using a Crock-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 on the stovetop (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.  (If using a traditional blender, please see safety notes below.)
  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 fresh lemon slice if desired.

How To Make Lentil Soup

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, if you would like to make it creamier.
  • Add greens. You could also stir some fresh baby spinach or chopped kale into the soup just before serving, to add some greens.

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe

More Lentil Soup Recipes:

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

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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


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 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. :)

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

Source: Recipe inspired by the magical lentil soup at Aladdin Cafe in Kansas City.

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291 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

1 2 3 6
  1. 5 stars
    Lentils are among my favorite winter dishes. Packed with protein and not too heavy. I’ve never thought of this variation on lentils. Your spin on the lentil is my next slow cooker adventure.

  2. 5 stars
    I just made this soup!! It is so delicious and comforting on this freezing day! Thank you!

  3. I love lentils and cannot wait to make this. I wanted to ask, do you think you can replace the red lentils with black lentils, and if not, do you have a recipe for the use of black lentils you would like to share?

  4. what gives the recipe the yellow color?

  5. this soup uses red lentils…not yellow dal?
    the color just looks so much more in sync with yellow vs. red!
    thanks!

  6. Is it possible to also post the analysis of ingredients in the recipes—such as carbs, protein, fat, etc. My DH is doing low carb so he needs that info.
    I love your site & read it as often as you post. We lived 43 yrs. in Europe & have just, this summer, returned to the US, but will be going back to Vienna this summer for an extended stay. We also hope to again visit the Provence in mid summer.
    Thank you for posting your pups in the videos—my fav. part. Glad you little guy is recovering nicely from pancreatitis.

    • If you need nutritional info you should put it in a recipe calculator like my fitness pal.

    • I found this on my fitness pal:
      Homemade – Lemony Lentil Soup, 1.5 cup cooked: Ingredients Calories 371 Carbs 61 Fat 2 Protein 28 Sodium 500Sugar 7 1.5 cup Per 1.5 Cup serving : 93 calories

  7. Yes! The moment I saw your recipe in my email inbox, I thought of Aladdin! Our son adores their soup and gets it with a side of lemon every time. Our friend (one of the owners) gave us that tip in the Lawrence location. So glad you posted this, adding it to our soup list! If anyone is in KC, I surely suggest stopping by this neighborhood gem!

  8. 5 stars
    HI, I just made your wonderful soup. Actually, I have never eaten lentils. Very impressed. As I love corn it was easy to add more for later. Thank you!

  9. Ooooh, it’s been too long since I’ve had lentil soup. It’s so savory but light and I imagine the lemon just enhances the lightness in such a good way. I’,m excited to try using saffron in it this time around.
    Nicolette | http://nicolette.co

  10. 5 stars
    I don’t usually cook with lentils but this came out surprisingly yummy! It’s not quite as yellow as in the picture. With the winter the Midwest is experiencing this year the heartiness but bright flavor of this soup will be very welcome!

  11. 5 stars
    Terrific soup. Easy to make, and easier to eat. Thank you.

  12. Is the corn fresh? canned? frozen? looks so yummy. excited to try.

  13. I’ve liked everything I have made with red lentils. I will definitely try this!

  14. 4 stars
    Just made this and it came out delicious! Love this website. :)

  15. 5 stars
    Just made this tonight. Delish. Highly recommend – was perfect for the chilly day we were having in Ontario, Canada. My 2 boys loved it as well. Thanks for the great recipe.

  16. 5 stars
    This was light but filling, easy to make, and a hit even with my 1.5 year old. I didn’t have saffron, but I can imagine that makes it even more wonderful. Thanks for the recipe!

  17. I really need to try this version. It looks absolutely delicious! By the way, I have been following your journey since you moved to Barcelona a few months ago and I find it both very fun and inspiring! I’m French but moved to Sweden for a few years and now live in Chicago, so I do the other way around ;-)

  18. Hi Ali,
    THANK YOU SO MUCH for including Instant Pot instructions. I’d had one for a while and needed to get brave to try it. I tried using it on a recipe I already had and adapting it, but was a little lost. ☺️ Now with your instructions I know just what to do. 😉 My hubby and I made this tonight and love it. I’ve enjoyed your blog for quite a while but my first time to post back to you. So glad you’re blogging from Spain, it’s armchair travel for the rest of us. ✈️
    Deb

  19. 5 stars
    I made this soup today. I have never cooked with lentils or saffron before, so both were fun to try. The soup was yummy and very different than any I have cooked before. I love your recipes and all your posts. Thanks for sharing!

  20. 5 stars
    Love this recipe! I used corn that I roasted and froze from my garden,

    love this recipe! Comfort food at its best!

  21. 5 stars
    Love it! I had to make it because our daughter just spent the summer in Spain and brought back some saffron! It was delish!! Miss you at JW Ali!! Definitely going to make it again!!

  22. 5 stars
    Yummy! I just made this soup and it is a big hit. I used Chicken Stock and I could not find saffron at the store so I left it out. After I blended the soup I decided I wanted it a tad thicker so I added a half cup more lentils and let it simmer on the stove for 15 more minutes and blended it again. I was very happy with the consistency and the color was the same as what was pictured. I will be making this a lot! Thank you, Ali!

  23. Everything I have made from this site has been good. I have not had lentils in a long time so decided to try this soup. After soup was done I tried a couple of spoonfuls. Hmmmm. I was not sure what I thought of it
    Tried a bowl, then another one and another. The soup is wonderful 😀😀😀😀

  24. 5 stars
    Perfect soup for a very cold day.Easy recipe. I added a little more spices .Excellent ..

  25. Can i use lentils that are not red?

  26. 5 stars
    Delicioso! Gracias!

  27. I made this soup twice in the past week. The first time I followed the recipe and although I’m not a curry fan the flavors all blended nicely together the next day. The second time I did 3 chicken thighs in the pressure cooker with the required amount of broth/water; then defatted, shredded, and sliced the chicken a little. Then I started the recipe and added the chicken to it. I also added two stalks of celery and decreased the spices and lemon by half and added a tablespoon of rosemary.

  28. 5 stars
    I made this last night and it was fantastic! I did the instant pot version, with sauteing the onions and carrots then adding everything else together to pressure cook. I know the stovetop version is probably the same amount of overall time, I just like the aspect of setting it on a timer and having it automatically start and turn off when it’s all done! Great recipe!

  29. 5 stars
    I made this soup today for lunch, and it was SO good! With the cold weather, this delicious soup is a perfect warm, healthy meal. The carrots, white onion, and lemon juice work so well with the lentils. I served it with a grilled cheese sandwich. Thank you so much for sharing!

  30. 5 stars
    This was delicious! I loved how lemony it was. Made a interesting twist for a soup that is so comforting. I find myself craving it…I guess another batch is in my future!

  31. such an interesting twist on lentils, saw another interesting lentil recipe today too, so much better than my default lentil recipe and important too since I’m now eating a lot more legumes, even red ones like those you highlight here, love the idea of red lentils, thank you!

  32. 5 stars
    Easy and delicious, very fresh and light, I will be making this often – thank you.

  33. 5 stars
    Such a lovely recipe! For some reason, I was hesitant to put all the lemon juice in as written but I tested a bit and you are totally right. The lemon flavor makes the soup!

  34. 5 stars
    This soup is da bomb!!! So tasty and fresh! The kids (and moi) had seconds. Thank you for another excellent recipe!

  35. 5 stars
    Made this last night and it was AMAZING! I’m eating some at my desk at work now and its a bit cold and still delicious. So many flavors and they all go together so well! Thank you!

  36. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious and a very easy, quick and healthful dish. I went the stove top route and followed the recipe as written. This is a keeper!

  37. 5 stars
    This was so delicious! Just like many of your other recipes. Thanks for all of the tasty posts!

  38. 5 stars
    Made this tonight (stovetop version with cayenne but without saffron) and oh my god, it is SO GOOD. Reminds me so much of the mulligatawny soup at my favorite Indian restaurant (except it’s so much healthier, I’m sure!). So excited to eat leftovers – I wish I’d doubled the recipe! Will be making this again really soon. Thanks for the great recipe!

  39. Lemony lentil soup…also actually known as “daal”…

  40. 5 stars
    Love, love, love this! Making today for my third time.

  41. 5 stars
    I’m obsessed with this soup! I made it for dinner last night and had it again for breakfast (I woke up craving it!) and dinner today. Delicious! I made it extra lemony by using the juice of two lemons.

  42. 5 stars
    OMG this is my new favourite meal that I make now lol. I made it using my new Instant Pot and served it topped with a scoop of basmati rice. Sooo good, my husband and 17 month old son loved it too! Will definitely be making this a staple in our home.

  43. 5 stars
    yummy

  44. Hello! What do you mean by “whole kernal corn?” Do you mean canned corn? Or the bulk corn kernals at Sprouts (grocery store), for example?

    Thank you!

  45. Can you add the lemon juice and zest in the beginning? I did accidentally 😣

  46. 5 stars
    Wow. I cannot believe how good that was! I made a few small adjustments (only 1 c. of lentils b/c it was all I had, same for 1/2 lemon vs whole, no saffron, turmeric instead of curry pwdr) The WHOLE family (8, 4 & 2) gave it ***rave*** reviews. (I really thought it was going to be a PB&J night for the kids!) So grateful when I can make vegan dinner for me and my kids love it too! Served w Minimalist Baker’s Best Damn Vegan Biscuits which were also a huge hit! Thanks for this new family favorite!

  47. 5 stars
    Made this earlier this week and it was amazing! I had a bowl before adding the fresh lemon juice and thought it tasted great without the lemon too! I really liked this recipe and will definitely make it again!

  48. 5 stars
    Delicious!

  49. 5 stars
    This was quick, easy and, my favorite, lemony! The corn makes it sweet. I made a big pit to save in nason jars, but ate so much I only saved two jars!

  50. Fabulous! So easy and so much flavor!!