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 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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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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167 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

  1. Delicious! Fast and easy to make with pantry staples. Love the spice of the curry and heat of the cayenne tempered by the lemon. I added a little flat leaf parsley as a garnish. Perfect fall soup!

    Rating: 5
  2. This soup is delicious!! Highly Recommend, even without the saffron!

    Rating: 5
  3. Hands down the best lentil soup I have ever had. My Hubbie, who hates all pulses and beans, loved it! So nice to find a recipe for pulses that doesn’t have a heavy, spicy flavor profile. I can totally understand how you could crave this fabulous soup!

    Rating: 5
  4. Made this last night and it was great. Today, it’s even better! Love the addition of lemon. I blended half the soup in my VitaMix and left the rest chunky. I also added about two cups of chopped kale after I blended. So good!!!

    Rating: 5
  5. Delicious. Quick and easy. Only change I made was to reduce stock to 5 cups and added a half cup of coconut milk. Superb recipe, will no doubt make this again and again. Oh, and I used a hand blender and made it pretty smooth.

    Rating: 5
  6. I. Made this in the crockpot yesterday, except I omitted the lemon at the end. But it was still great and my husband loved it. I am always looking for plant-based recipes and you have so many good ones, or ones that are easily adapted. And the crockpot makes it super simple and oil free.

    Rating: 5
  7. I enjoyed reading all of the comments and will make it on this rainy day in my IP.
    I’ll follow the instruction as printed the first time, then make some additions as another reader suggested with rice and diced potato the next time. I love the addition of lemon and will bake an Amish Sour Cream Cornbread to accompany the soup.

    Rating: 5
  8. Excellent recipe, thank you for sharing it. Made it exactly as stated and my husband asked for a 3rd bowl.

    Rating: 5
  9. Great!

    Rating: 5
  10. I love this recipe and plan to make it tomorrow. I will make two changes: I prefer leaving garlic whole because it is not bitter that way; and second, I have trouble digesting corn and will substitute diced potatoes in its place. The rest of the recipe sounds delicious!

  11. I made this lemony lentil soup and I really loved it and so did my family! I added celery, red bell pepper and zucchini for more veggie goodness since my husband is a vegetarian. This will be my favorite lentil soup recipe from now on!

    Rating: 5
  12. So good. I’m not a big fan of cumin so I opted to use a Garam Masala mix that included Cumin and Saffron. I also upped the lemon. I will definitely be putting this in regular rotation. Posted pic on Pinterest.

    Rating: 5
  13. Can you leave out the corn and just add more lentils? And how much is a “pinch” of saffron and do you crush and steep it before adding at the end?

  14. Absolutely delicious and oh so easy! SP are almost negligible for WW followers. Will definitely make this one over and over again!

  15. So easy to make and such incredible flavour. Definitely a go to on cold winter days! Thank you.

    Rating: 4
  16. Hi, this is a great recipe I’ve been adding into our meal rotation this winter (it’s come so early this year in Kansas!).

    So I’m trying to make it for a school potluck and need to make about 3 gallons. Can you tell me how many quarts the original recipe makes?

    Rating: 5
  17. one of my fav soups from your blog. the lemon is
    soooo good in this recipe! we are lemon fans so i added
    more.
    :)

  18. OMG! What an amazing soup. I still can’t believe that a soup that was so fast to make, still had a chance to develop so much flavour. It was super easy to do, fast to prep and so delicious. This will become a go-to recipe for my weekly soup. I did the recipe exactly as stated, did not change a thing and it was perfect and loved by my hubby.

    Rating: 5
  19. Wonderful

    Rating: 5
  20. This soup is GOOD. Love that it is easy, inexpensive to make and delicious!

    Rating: 5
  21. Just made it in my instant pot….delicious!!!

    Rating: 5
  22. Accidentally cooked my lentils too quickly (closer to boiling than simmering) so they all split! Still tasty though – added lemon juice from another half a lemon, a couple handfuls of kale for some greens, and some red pepper flakes instead of cayenne. Yum!

  23. I made this this afternoon for dinner and it was awesome! I loved it! I only had 4c of vef stock so I used the rest of a 8.25oz unsalted chicken stock and a cup of water. Will definitely be keeping this in roation! Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  24. Delicious on this cold night (OK, 50 degrees cold) in FL. I added a little extra cumin because….cumin, threw in a bunch of spinach for extra greens and topped off with himalayan salt, greek yogurt and freshly chopped mint. Perfect comfort food a with a hunk of crusty bread!

    Rating: 5
  25. This is absolutely delicious – thank you so much for this recipe! I’m a vegetarian who was raised on Greek and Italian food, and I often miss that lemony zest of avolemono (the Greek lemon soup with chicken). This really scratched that itch for me in a way that nothing else has. I love it!

    (And for anyone else wondering, I didn’t have saffron and this turned out delicious even without it.)

    I have one question: Is there a reason you chose not to include celery in this? So many soups like this, especially ones that use carrot, usually include celery in that initial sauteing step. Curious to know if that was an intentional omission or not, and whether or not you think it’d be a good addition.

    Thanks again! :)

    Rating: 5
  26. Absolutely delicious! This is such a great recipe and the lemon flavor is subtle and delicious. I substituted turmeric for saffron because that is what I had on hand. I made this in the instant pot and it worked great. Thanks for another great recipe. This is the second recipe of yours that I tried (wild rice soup was the other – equally delicious) and the whole family (from toddlers to teenagers) liked it.

    Rating: 5
  27. I made this delicious lentil soup today in preparation for -26 temperature we expect tomorrow in the Chicagoland area.
    The lemony lentil soup with sweet corn was warm, nutritious and filling. This recipe is a keeper!

    Rating: 5
  28. Thank you for sharing this great recipe. It’s delicious, economical and easy. Made as stated, except for a few modifications to the process. Cooked vegetables much longer and added spices, including saffron, to the vegetables for a few mins. To allow them to bloom. I’m looking out on a gray, snowy, cold day on the east coast but the aroma and taste of this soup brought some sunshine into my day🌞. Thanks again for sharing your talent!!

    Rating: 5
  29. So flavorful, quick, and easy! Made it in the IP. I’ll definitely be making this again. Still can’t believe my picky husband liked it!

    Rating: 5
  30. Wow this soup is so delicious! To be honest I wasn’t expecting it to be THIS GOOD. I’m eating it right now as I write this 😋. I made it in the pressure cooker and it is so delicious 🤤. I added some ginger with the garlic and spinach at the end. Wow my husband is going to like This. Thank you so much for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
  31. This is sooooo yummy! I didn’t have any carrots so made it without that AND the saffron but it’s still delicious 👌

    Rating: 5
  32. This was delicious. I didn’t change a thing (and wouldn’t change anything). Love the brightness of the corn and lemony flavor.

    Rating: 5
  33. I have made this recipe about
    8 times. It is healthy and so delicious. Must try. Thank you!

  34. I have been searching for a good lentil soup recipe ever since we left NYC where there are the best Indian restaurants in the world and this recipe is by far the very best lentil soup we have ever had. I didn’t have vegetable broth so I substituted chicken broth and water and since I am allergic to garlic I left it out. I did have saffron and I do think it made a difference. I finished it off with a sprinkle of chopped fresh cilantro and a good sqiush of lemon juice. I made it in the crock pot and it was so easy! My husband keeps saying, omg that was so good over and over again. Thanks very much!

    Rating: 5
  35. This soup was so good! It’s perfect when you’re sick, full of good plant-based protein, and just plain delicious!

    Rating: 5
  36. Made a month ago and am getting ready to make again. I like lentil soup but; might love this one. I have been craving this since i ran out. I made it for dinner for me and husband then froze the rest and unthawed for my lunches. Stayed tasty. Really yummy. Made as written; maybe a bit more liquid than stated.

    Rating: 5
  37. Fabulous tasty soup! So easy to make

    Rating: 5
  38. If I make this again I’d not use the curry powder. It overpowered the flavours. I’d also use more liquid. It was ok but not great.

    Rating: 3
  39. Delicious! I followed the recipe exactly, including the Spanish Saffron and cayenne & this is amazing soup.
    Sure to warm your heart and soul. Thanks for the recipe!

    Rating: 5
  40. So so good. I’m a carnivore and I love it

    Rating: 5
  41. This soup is delicious and healthy and will be forever in my freezer from now on!!
    Thanks for sharing👍🏻

    Rating: 5
  42. I made this for my husband who eats soup everyday for lunch and needed a vegetarian soup for Lent. He came home from work and I handed him the spoon and asked what do you think? Several spoonfuls later he said this was the best soup ever! Wants to know when I will make it again. Thanks!

    Rating: 5
  43. Excellent flavors and very easy, thank you!

    Rating: 5
  44. I’ve made this multiple times and it’s always a hit. The soup is nice and bright but hearty and satisfying as well. I’ve made it where it’s more pureed but I think I prefer it left a bit more chunky.

    Rating: 5
  45. Id the corn canned, or is it fresh off the cob? If from the cob, do you add it in raw?

  46. Ok! This soup is soooo good and easy to make. Made it as posted except the corn because I didn’t have any. I used the crockpot on high for 3 hours and didn’t blend . I also didn’t sauté the carrots and onions … just dumped it all in. Topped with green onions and wonton strips . Hubby loved it as well. I tasted it before adding the lemon and it was good , but after the lemon it was spectacular 😊Thanks !!

    Rating: 5
  47. LOVE THIS SOUP!!!! I followed the recipe as written but added 1/3 cup coconut cream at the end. PERFECTION!! Thx!!.

    Rating: 5
  48. This was delicious! I used 5C of stock along with a 14 oz can of crushed tomatoes, and also added several handfuls of fresh chopped arugula along with the lemon. 😋

    Rating: 5
  49. This is my new favorite lentil soup! It’s easy and fast. I’ve made it several times now. Delicious!

    Rating: 5
  50. Thanks for this recipe. This is EXTREMELY good soup. I’ve made 3 or 4 homemade lentil soups and this is the best one I’ve tried. The corn adds a touch of sweetness to balance the other smoky flavors.

    Rating: 5