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. 5 stars
    This soup is absolutely fantastic. So full of flavor and easy to make. I had no idea saffron was the most expensive spice in the world… I tried it anyways, but may not use it next time.
    Had anyone tried it without saffron? Is there a noticeable difference in taste?

  2. 5 stars
    How have I not left a comment before?? Definitely a meal prep staple for me – so super easy and filling.

  3. 5 stars
    I just made this recipe. It is super easy and very delicious.

  4. 5 stars
    perfect recipe! I used all the ingredients and the flavor is fantastic. Thanks for sharing.

  5. 5 stars
    Really enjoyed this recipe, thanks! I substituted 1 cup coconut milk for 1 cup of the stock, added at the end with the lemon juice, but otherwise as written. Lovely, especially with fresh corn.

  6. 5 stars
    This recipe is delicious. I made it without the saffron and I didn’t miss it. This will definitely go into my regular rotation! Love it!

  7. 5 stars
    Love this soup! Super easy, light and tasty. Who would have thought that humble ingredients could make such a great soup

  8. 5 stars
    This recipe was really delicious! I used split peas because i was out of lentils one time and it was just as yummy!

  9. 5 stars
    This soup was delicious. Thank you so much! I’ve also been to Aladdin’s in KC (my husband is from there and we go back that way often). I even sent this to a cousin that was the first person to send me to Aladdin’s.

    Anyway, awesome soup recipe! I Madeira without saffron because I didn’t have any on hand, but I imagine it would take it to another level!

    • This isn’t bad. It’s not what I expected. I taste more of the curry than the lemon. I think a better name would be curried lentil soup. I’m surprised by all the rave reviews.

  10. 5 stars
    I served this with a bit of plain greek yogurt drizzled on with some cilantro. It was delicious!!!! Definitely going to become part of the regular rotation at our house!

  11. 5 stars
    This was absolutely delicious very easy…just yum..thnks

  12. 5 stars
    This recipe is amazing!!! Please make this for yourself; you will be treating yourself. I made this with things I already had so I improvised a little bit. I had a can of cream corn, so I used a whole can as well as added a little more than a tablespoon of ketchup after blending it. Topped with cilantro and lemon juice and this was SO GOOD!!! I also used only two cloves of garlic cause that’s all I had on hand and it was just fine but the more garlic, the better :) The instant pot made this even faster and easier.

  13. 5 stars
    Love this soup and so does my hubby. Did I mention I love it? I did not use saffron.

  14. 5 stars
    Loved the recipe. It was quick and easy. Although I love saffron I did not hsve any on hand so I omitted it.

  15. Makin’ this based on the story alone! Great writing! Looking forward to this in my lunch sack, bag, whatever I’m lugging my food to work in on Monday. 😎

  16. 4 stars
    I made this 2 days ago, I multiplied the recipe by 4 to make 20 or so portions. I froze most in tubs. Delicious recipe! The only things I felt it needed was some ginger-i put dried & powdered in. And sweetness-i put a load of maple syrup and brown sugar in. I think it needs the sweetness, even though it has sweetcorn & carrot in. Colleagues want the recipe! It’s very garlicky! Cheap & nutritious

  17. 5 stars
    I made this today in my instant pot and it was delicious!! Loved it! Great recipe!!

  18. 5 stars
    Absolutely delicious. I had celery in the garden, so also added two finely chopped sticks. Will definitely be making this healthy and hearty soup again soon.

  19. 5 stars
    I just made this tonight after my sister recommended it to me – I was honestly so sceptical (in my mind, lemon, cumin, and curry powder just sounds odd) – but it was delicious! I’ve finally met a lentil that I do like

  20. 5 stars
    This soup is so good! I’ve made it a few times, and definitely prefer it blended with an immersion blender to be a little chunkier – I pureed it in my vitamix the last time I made it and the texture was a little weird (I think from the lentils), but still tasted delicious! The lemon gives it such a great flavor.

  21. 5 stars
    Absolutely the MOST delicious soup ever I want to eat the whole pot!!!

    • It tastes good, but the texture is not chunky enough for me. Mine came out more like a drink and less like soup. I guess I overdid it.

  22. 5 stars
    This soup was sooooo good and so easy to make. Hubbie, 8 year old and 4 year old sons loved it, said it was the best soup I have made! I made it exactly as written (frozen corn), doubled the recipe, and instapot version. Will be in my regular rotation.

  23. 5 stars
    First meal that my husband daughter and I all ate together, lovely recipe, great bite.

  24. 5 stars
    Spectacular! Easy peasy, the saffron is key. I added garlic scapes and bumped up the cumin and turmeric.
    Originally wanted to make this in the slow cooker then thoroughly read the recipe and discovered that the cooking time was just about 20 minutes. Well worth making on stove.

  25. Would love the nutrition information on this yummy recipe.

  26. 5 stars
    This tastes exactly like my favorite soup at the local Mediterranean joint! I have been trying to find a soup like this for years! Delicious!

  27. 5 stars
    This is the best lentil soup I ever had. So delicious! I made it for brunch with my girlfriends and they all wanted the recipe. The lemon is the cherry on the cake!! I used the slow cooker method to make it.

  28. 5 stars
    Delicious! I used the saffron and cayenne, and threw in a sweet potato because I had it.

  29. Can you use a mix of lentils? Like red, pigeon and mung?

    • I only had black, and I threw in some Garbanzos with it….I bet you could use a whole mix of lentils as well. Blacks cook more quickly b/c they are smaller, but it I cooked the same time as recipe suggested.

  30. Verey easy recipe!

  31. Just curious as to what kind of curry you like to use?

  32. This soup is delicious!! OMG! This one is in my rotation for sure!

  33. I discovered this soup several months ago, and I make it almost EVERY single week. It is so delicious! I add a heaping tablespoon of Keema curry and more Indian spice to it. I also started adding two large handfuls of spinach to it, and it is just so delicious.

  34. My favourite soup! Perfect recipe, thank you!!

  35. Absolutely delicious. My husband deemed this the best lentil soup he’s ever had.

  36. I occasionally make a huge pot of lentil soup with the addition of black beans, kale and green beans. This is the absolutely best base lentil soup I’ve made and will be my permanent recipe. I just minused the carrots and corn (my goal is high protein) and added nutrional yeast. Oh and I make my black beans with coriander so those little bursts of flavor added some more depth.

    Absolutely amazing and thanks for sharing with us.

  37. Taste great and easy to make. I will purchase utensil to purée for next time.

  38. is pureeing the soup the end a must for this recipe?

  39. Absolutely delicious. I have a fav from a local restaurant and this one comes the closest to copying it. It warms you from the inside out. And includes all my favourites: cheap, easy, healthy and delicious. Thank you

  40. This recipe is a staple in our house, thank you!

  41. We didn’t have saffron or curry on hand and substituted the carrots with celery. Also, we only had the common colored lentils. Wow! FULL OF flavour! Delicious! Who knew?! Lemon Lentil Soup…and we did not purée at all and it is amazing tasty.

  42. Just repeating what everbody else seems to have written, but this soup was SO GOOD. I used black lentils since I was out of red, and I didn’t have Saffron, so I used a pinch of GOYA Sazon Unique Seasoning (with Saffron) since I unexpectedly had some…this is a great staple, I did it in the Instapot.

  43. Wow! Love, love, love this soup!! Made it exactly as directed in the recipe, and it was to die for. Can’t wait to make some more . . . yummy!

  44. I really, really love this soup. I reduced the garlic a little (3 cloves) and added a handful of spinach into my bowl. Definitely recommending to everyone I love.

  45. gonna make this for sure but not sure I’ll locate saffron here in my small town. Too eager to make it before ordering saffron online for delivery. Thank you for this amazing recipe, complete winner for tasty ingredients.

  46. This is my new favorite soup! Love everything about it and it was so easy to make. I added some extra heat with the cayenne. Yum, yum, yum.

  47. Made a double batch for a bunch of friends yesterday and everyone liked it! It was easy to make and I enjoyed some leftovers for lunch today. Curious to how it would taste with saffron, so I will invest in some next time I make this soup. Thanks for a delicious and simple recipe!

  48. Hello from KC. I’m late finding this recipe but I’m so glad I did. I followed it precisely, even buying saffron for the first time. It’s one of the best soups I have ever had.

  49. This is lovely. I only had canned lentils, canned corn and bottled lemon juice. It was still awesome.
    This recipe is a keeper.

  50. Fabulous! Love the lemon at the end. I didn’t have corn, and it was very good without it. I will try it with corn next time, for sure. Had saffron threads a friend brought me from Turkey, so I was happy to use my Turkish saffron!