Lemony Lentil Soup

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure policy.

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:

Print
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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

291 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

  1. Loved this soup, thank you! I’ve been on a bit of a lentil soup kick the past little while, and this is the third and best recipe I’ve tried. Wonderful lemon flavor. I followed the recipe exactly and found the soup a bit thinner than I like- easy fix though as next time I’ll cut down the amount of broth. I also added a bunch of chopped spinach at the end because I like to get my greens in where I can and I love spinach!

  2. This lentil soup was great! a lot lighter and more of a fresh taste than other lentil soups I make (which are usually loaded down with tomato product and paprika). I also added diced parsnips to this because I had some I needed to use up. I used the instant pot method but I think 8 minutes was a bit too long for my preference. Overall really glad I tried this recipe!

  3. My new favorite lentil soup recipe! The lemon lightens it up and makes it so delicious. Only changes I made were using canned corn (still good!), added a little coconut cream and shredded kale at the end of cooking, and served with cilantro, scallions and avocado on top. Yum!!!

  4. What can we use other than corn?

  5. a go-to recipe for me – sometimes I add spinach and more lemon, but, the recipe is perfect as is! thank you

  6. This was so good!! Any idea what the nutritional information is?

  7. This soup. OMG. I’m so sad I did’t make a double batch and it’s all gone now. Will definitely make a bigger batch so I can freeze some for easy reheats!

  8. This is the best lentil soup I’ve made. So easy, too! I just love it!

  9. First soup in my life, i was uncertain but at the end it was amafuckinzing.

  10. Such a fresh filling healthy soup! Made it many times, husband and I LOVE it.

  11. SQUEEEEE! I came here from a “Mediterranean lentil soup recipe Instant Pot” search. I was hoping to find a good starting point for a recipe to tweak into my favorite hometown lentil soup, which is, by total serendipity, Aladdin’s on 39th in KC!! 100% agree that it is the best, and now I’m so stinking excited to try this~!~

    • Soooooo yummy! I was making Focaccia with olives & wanted something Mediterranean to go with it. This was a perfect compliment to the bread. My kids loved it too!

  12. Really tasty and so simple to make. Added a large can of mushrooms (would have used fresh if I’d had any), didn’t have fresh or frozen corn so used a can of corn, didn’t add saffron or cayenne. Tastes a lot like the lentil soup at my local Middle Eastern restaurant. Will be making this again.

  13. What kind of curry do you use? I’m not really a curry fan, but I adore spicy foods. Is there another spice you would recommend?

  14. It’s a great recipe, especially with the corn. I know this is a vegan recipe, but it would taste awesome with some dark turkey meat…just saying. :D

  15. This is truly an amazing soup, easy to prepare and super healthy and delicious. I used more garlic and more lemon than it calls for, but super recipe.

  16. This was awesome! I absolutely loved it and ill have food to put in my freezer which will be great for right now. I didnt have any corn but it still turned out great.

  17. Awesome recipe! Made it today for lunch since I’m stuck working at home. I didn’t have saffron but it’s still delicious without. Can’t wait to try more of your recipes!

  18. Haaha.!! I was searching for a recipe with.. wait for it….. Aladins soup in mind. Went there 3 times last month just for the soup. And how crazy that I stumbled upon a person making this very Kansas City restaraunts recipe. . In the gigantic world wide web.. and you were the first one I clicked on. Yay! And thanks.

  19. I decided to to make this recipe because I happened to have all the ingredients on hand. This soup is crazy good, so delicious and refreshing. I will definitely make this again!

  20. So delicious!!

  21. Looks great. I will make it. Technique similar to a Tuscan white bean & kale soup I just made that turned out great.
    I’m thinking that this is a dish that might benefit from some Lobster or crabmeat mounded on top and maybe served room temp, slightly chilled in the Summer, or hot.
    I live in New England & these seafood options are more readily available here.
    I’ve downloaded -and cooked, several of your contributions , so much thanks for that. Keep up the good work
    Rik Wun

  22. What can I use instead of curry powder to season this? Really don’t care for curry.

  23. I don’t have red but I have green and yellow could I substitute either or both for the red lentils? Never made lentil soup but I really think this sounds DELICIOUS

  24. I am glad everyone enjoys it so much. It was not a selling point at our home and we like lentil soups and especially mulligatawny. We weren’t about to eat it. I possibly did something very wrong. I think the lemon zest may have sent plus over the edge, we usually use lemon grass or fresh squeezed lemons. Other than that, I am not sure why it wasn’t a hit. Darn it anyway. Kudos to you that so many people love it! (Serious)

  25. Fantastic feedback from my family of 3 males, one who is in the military and eats a huge (!) amount of food. I doubled the recipe and used chicken stock and smooth pureed the soup. Instead of placing the corn in the mix, I sauteed the kernels in olive oil and everyone added the amount that they wanted on top, like croutons. There was only a small amount left. Thanks very much:)

  26. This was an amazing recipe! I made this almost exactly to the original, except I didn’t have cayenne pepper. I used a dash of chili powder and paprika instead. We used a Jamaican style curry powder we had on hand. We cooked up some vegan Italian sausage, cut it up into small chunks, and sprinkled it in right before serving. Made some homemade garlic knots and a salad and it was a delicious meal. What we loved was the balance of flavors- nothing overpowered anything. First you tasted a light lemon taste, then the light curry flavor, then the lentils at the end. I was afraid that the cumin would be the biggest flavor, but it wasn’t. The bits of sausage we added made for some nice texture. My husband said this was a keeper! In this strange time waiting out the coronavirus at home, being able to make a comforting and delicious meal that was also easy on the pocket book was just what we needed.

  27. My first time on your website. I loosely followed your directions because of ingredient issues but what great soup! That was such a winner I can’t wait to see what other recipes you have.

  28. This soup is amazing. I didn’t pure or mash it. it was good the way it was.

  29. Delicious! Loves the freshness of the lemon flavor. My husband hates typical lentil soup but he said this recipe made him into a lentil soup believer! Will definitely make again and again.

  30. Our family loved this soup so much!

  31. Thank you so much for this recipe, we in the UK are under lockdown like most of the world and as a result a family friend had to shut his restaurant and was left with a lot of fresh unused stock, of which I was given 5kg of yogurt! Now at this time I would hate to throw any food away so already I’ve started making yogurt cake and fennel soda bread which I thought would pair so well with a lentil soup. Upon searching found your recipe, our family eat daal almost on a daily basis so rest of my family were a bit dubious as to how this soup would turn out, needless to say they all loved it! The lemon just lifts it spectacularly and it was perfect with the bread. Thanks for this wonderful recipe and I wish you and your family good health ❤️

  32. Best lentil soup recipe I can find. The lemon zest adds such an amazing flavor. So easy and quick. I added a package of mushrooms which was delicious. Thanks!

  33. Very bitter and pretty liquidy, if you want it to be thicker just add more ingredients or less broth

  34. Seems delicious and nourishing and easy to cook

  35. This was delicious! I made it tonight for my family, and everyone really enjoyed it even some of my picky eaters. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  36. Absolutely delicious!

  37. Currently on quarantine so I only had brown lentils and chicken stock and no saffron BUT this was so so good and simple. Will certainly make it again!

  38. The Aladdin Cafe/Jerusalem Cafe soup is the gold standard and this is spot on. This is my ultimate comfort food when I don’t feel well or even just had a bad day. Thank you for sharing!

  39. LOVED this soup :)

  40. How do you prepare the saffron strands for this recipe? Did you crush them or make a paste or just out the strands in there?

  41. This is the best lentil recipe my husband and I have ever had — even better than restaurant soup!

    I used fresh homemade chicken broth instead of vegetable broth and one lime instead of a lemon. I used an immersive blender and blended about 1/3 of the soup.

    This is now one of my go-to recipes!

  42. Made this and Ali’s foccacia recipe last night! Loved both. As a mom I really appreciate how her recipes are relatively low cost/simple and great taste. So many of her recipes are becoming part of my regular meal plans. This was another recipe that didn’t disappoint!

  43. I didn’t think I liked lentils, but I was given 2 bags of dried lentils and decided to try to make something. This is the first recipe that I tried….and I love it!! I followed the recipe exactly (except I think I have yellow and not red lentils) and it is awesome! I will definitely make again! Thank you!!!

  44. Gracias for the recipe. I’ve been looking for a good lentil soup similar to what I had in Mexico during holy week. This is awesome, no meat.

  45. I love making soups and just made this one exactly per the recipe and it was amazing! I don’t like corn but when it’s puréed you don’t even notice it. Will definitely double the recipe next time. It’s a definite winner!

  46. I thought this sounded like quite a unique soup and it is! Uniquely awesome that is! 😊 really love this and love how light but filling it is. The lemon is such a great touch and lifts it all up. Will be saving this into my go-to lunch recipes.

  47. Delicious recipe! It’s not compete until you add the lemon, salt and pepper. I also added some fresh feta cheese for garnish and it was delicious.
    Thank you!

  48. Oh! This was delicious. Thank you! Easy to make, easy to enjoy with a side of pita.

  49. This was my first time to make lentil soup and it was easy. I had a half bottle of V-8 juice so used it for part the liquid, 4 C Chicken broth and 2 C V-8 juice. It added a little kick to the soup and especially delicious.

  50. Perfect, absolutely delicious; thank you!