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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306 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

  1. 5 stars
    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!

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

  3. 5 stars
    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!

  4. 5 stars
    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!!!

  5. 5 stars
    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.

  6. 5 stars
    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.

  7. 5 stars
    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.

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

  9. 5 stars
    Great!

  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. 5 stars
    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!

  12. 5 stars
    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.

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

  16. 5 stars
    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?

  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. 5 stars
    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.

  19. 5 stars
    Wonderful

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

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

  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. 5 stars
    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!

  24. 5 stars
    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!

  25. 5 stars
    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! :)

  26. 5 stars
    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.

  27. 5 stars
    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!

  28. 5 stars
    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!!

  29. 5 stars
    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!

  30. 5 stars
    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!

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

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

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

  34. 5 stars
    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!

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

  36. 5 stars
    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.

  37. 5 stars
    Fabulous tasty soup! So easy to make

  38. 3 stars
    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.

  39. 5 stars
    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!

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

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

  42. 5 stars
    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!

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

  44. 5 stars
    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.

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

  46. 5 stars
    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 !!

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

  48. 5 stars
    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. 😋

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

  50. 5 stars
    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.