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.


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 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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Recipe rating

390 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

  1. 5 stars
    This was delicious! my new favorite lentil soup!

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

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

  4. 5 stars
    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!

  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. 5 stars
    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!

  7. 5 stars
    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.
    👏🏻❤️🙏❤️🙏❤️🇨🇦

  8. 5 stars
    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.

  9. 5 stars
    Absolutely gorgeous!!!

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

  11. 5 stars
    So delicious and easy! I made it stovetop in my stock pot. I like it better than my favorite local middle eastern restaurant!

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

  13. 5 stars
    Fast and easy to make, addition of lemon was so good. Delicious, will definitely make again and again. Thank you for the recipe

  14. 4 stars
    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.

  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. 5 stars
    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.

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

  19. 5 stars
    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.

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

  21. 5 stars
    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! :)

  22. 5 stars
    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!

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

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

  26. 5 stars
    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!

  27. 4 stars
    Very nice perfect seasonings
    followed the recipe exactly

  28. 5 stars
    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!

  29. Does it works with brown lentils?

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

  31. 5 stars
    This was very quick and easy…and delish. Served with a dollop of Greek yoghurt; it went very nicely with the lemon.

  32. 5 stars
    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 :)

  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. 5 stars
    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.

  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. 5 stars
    healthy ! love lentil soup

  39. So… is the corn raw or cooked?

  40. 5 stars
    I love this recipe! So filling and delicious. I’ll be making this often!

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

  42. 5 stars
    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.

  43. 4 stars
    Really delicious & simple to make. I will definitely be making this again!

  44. 5 stars
    delish!!!!! will make again

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

  46. I made a version of this with a few tweaks (just because I didn’t have all of the ingredients) and it is AMAZING. I can see why you’re so obsessed. Thank you so much for the recipe! I love it.

  47. 4 stars
    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!

  48. 5 stars
    Perfectly delic!

  49. 5 stars
    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!!!

  50. 5 stars
    Just made this and ate it all week for my work lunches. Loved it! Super tasty!! The lemon zest and juice was super tasty!