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

386 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

  1. I subbed chilli powder for curry powder as I don’t like curry and it was awesome! Adding to the fall rotation.

  2. Super delicious! The lemon added a bright note. Any veggies cook be hidden in this, like pumpkin puree. I didn’t have saffron and used brown lentils. Turned out great with some fresh tortillas to dip

  3. Unbelievably delicious and so healthy too! Now part of my regular rotation.

  4. Super easy and so delicious!

  5. Light, nutritiously satisfying, delicious and quick to make. Thank you.

  6. This was fantastic. So quick to make and absolutely delicious and nutritious. Added some chopped Kale at the end. Husband said it was the best soup he’s ever had (and he’s a big soup guy so I guess that says a lot haha) This is definitely going in the recipe vault to make again and again.

  7. This was great! I made it in Instant Pot. Very easy. I did make a few changes… I added 2 stalks of celery. I subbed veggie broth for chicken broth & paprika for cayenne.

  8. Absolutely Delicious! I’ve been trying to make a soup like this forever and have never come close. I first had it at a place called Aladdin’s Palace in Silverdale, WA, of all places. I have craved it for years since I moved away and have never come this close to duplicating it. This solved my craving. I’m pretty sure Aladdins had quite a lot more garlic in it and I may add more next time. It’s perfectly delicious just as written. This is a Winner!

  9. Recipe says 1 1/2 cups lentils… is this pre or post rinse??? Just got in a heated debate with my dad 🤣🤣 he claims that it was 1 1/2 when he went to rinse but there’s an unbelievable amount and I measured only 1 1/2 cups to add and there’s a lot left over….

  10. I’m SO confused. I expected a decent soup with some kind of lemony flavour and I got the best lentil dish I have ever eaten. I don’t comment in the internet all that much, but geeez you deserve to know just how amazing this soup is haha
    Keep up the good work!

  11. I did not read directions and have added the lemon zest and juice in ahead of time, I hope it will taste ok!

  12. Delicious soup , followed exactly but did add celery and after it cooked some zuccini – all spices were from the recipe and it is an easy tasty soup .

  13. This was DELICIOUS! Absolutely made my week of lunches, with some homemade pumpernickel dunked in. I’ve been topping with a fresh spiced cumin oil or toasted pine nuts and fried ginger batons and my mouth has been singing. Thank you!

  14. Can the leftovers be frozen?

  15. Perfect as is. YUM!

  16. This soup is sooooo good!

  17. Yum! This was so easy and super tasty! Definitely a keeper, thanks!

  18. Really great recipe, used my crock pot for it. The lemon juice makes this dish!

    • How did you go about making it in the crock pot? Did you just add everything at one time? Thanks!

  19. Even though I don’t usually enjoy curry, I love this soup! So tasty.

  20. I made this recipe on the stovetop and it was FANTASTIC!!! The only thing I omitted was the cayenne and saffron since I didn’t have any- nonetheless, it was amazing! Would definitely make it again, and I’ve already recommended it to others.

  21. This was delicious! I used a whole can of corn and it ended up turning out great. Made it in the slow cooker. Garnished with roasted shaved Brussel sprouts & Greek yogurt. My husband loved it!

  22. Absolutely beautiful. The addition of lemon takes this soup to next level. I also added a dash smoked paprika. Will definitely make again and try the variations too.

  23. Love the emphasis on lemon and garlic. I made this with green lentils and eliminated the corn, used a potato instead.
    Turned out great. The lemon brightens the flavor of the lentils. Will use red lentils when I have them.

  24. Seriously my favorite soup EVER. I add tumeric, ginger, and 2x much lemon and it’s SO good. Just made it for my sister after she brought her newborn baby home – best thing for her! Everyone must try!!

  25. I’ve never found a lentil soup that I liked as much as the soup at Aladdin Cafe in Westport. I was so excited to read that yours was inspired by this place! I’ve tried a bunch of recipes and they’ve never measured up. But…This recipe was PERFECT. The whole family gobbled it up!

  26. Awesome soup and this soup was a hit in my house. I used red split lentils and did not have to blend soup in a blender at all. Perfect texture and loved adding the lemon juice at the end to perk up the taste even more. For all you cilantro fans…we also added some cilantro and it so yummy. Thanks for sharing, this recipe is a keeper. I now must share:)

  27. Tried this tonight for the first time. Seriously delicious! Will be making on rotation from now on! My 2 year old had 3 helpings!

  28. I really wanted to love this recipe but the cumin was overpowering for my taste. I followed the directions and after one bowl I was done. All I tasted was cumin, curry and lemon. The corn flavor was lost. I probably won’t make this again. I did add a little olive oil, pepitas and extra lemon juice that made it taste better.

  29. Great recipe. Just wanted to point out this is a good go-to for anyone with anemia. Your get iron from the lentils and enhanced absorption from the vitamin C of the lemons. I make this soup frequently for this very reason!

  30. I’ve been making this ever since I saw the recipe about a year ago. I don’t usually add corn, but see the value. Basically makes me think of my favorite Mediterranean restaurant lentil soup. I also love how simple yet healthy it is! I encourage everyone to try! We always add; extra lemon, dollop of greek yoghurt, scallions and cilantro. Just my very favorite!

  31. This was SO unexpectedly delicious! I used low sodium veggie broth, left out the sea salt, and added an additional lemon. I just started a low sodium diet (ugh) and have been struggling to find flavorful recipes that don’t need additional salt. This one was perfect. Thank you!

  32. I read the reviews and thought “lentil soup…how good can it be”, and I was really surprised at how delicious it was! In addition to the recipe, I used a lemon curry powder, a bunch of green onions I had lying around, and I did not blend it. Definitely recommend!

  33. Fantastic recipe! While puréeing in the vitamin I added a whole head of cauliflower, extra lemon and cilantro. Tastes great!

  34. What are the quantities for each ingredient?

  35. So tasty and easy!

  36. This is my go-to recipe for lentil soup. Deeeelicious!! I’ve made it half a dozen times, no tweaking. It’s always perfect. Thank you!

  37. As a huge fan of lentils, I loved this recipe. The only change I made was not adding curry powder and using a bit more saffron. It was delicious and a definite keeper.

  38. Love this soup. It’s our new favorite. Easy as can be to make, cooks fast and freezes great. We prefer it chunky but it eats well both ways. I use a hand blender right in the pot. You can’t go wrong with this recipe.

  39. I don’t usually like lentils but I loved this red lentil soup. The extra squeeze of lemon and some cracked pepper in your bowl was excellent. Homemade cornbread on the side(!) brought it home.

  40. Delish! Will make again!

  41. I love lemon, limes too! Use them constantly. Especially when I make Pozole, and Mexican beef or chicken soup, but didn’t like in this soup. I like this without the lemon.

  42. Obsessed with the soup! I’ve made it twice now, both with red lentils and green lentils. It’s amazing and it’s going to become a regular in our house.

  43. Thank you so much for this recipe. It was amazing! I made it in my instant pot and it couldn’t have been easier. I’m definitely adding this into my daily rotation.

  44. Amazing soup! I love a good lentil soup but have been on a bit of a lemon kick so this was perfect. It’s a great balance between the warmth of the spices and the refreshing zest of the lemon. I added an entire can of corn because I wouldn’t know what to do with the rest and can’t imagine the extra made a difference. I also added some turmeric because it’s one of my favorite spices to add with little effect on the flavor but lots of benefits. This will be made time and again!

  45. Soup is light and fresh even though can be made thicker like a stew! I didn’t have enough red lentils, so I used a mixture of red and white lentils

  46. Delicious!

  47. Delicious, easy and quick. I didn’t have saffron and added cayenne to it. Smokey with a kick. The lemon isn’t strong but it add a depth of flavor I really like. It’s one of the best soup recipes I’ve tried.

  48. Great simple quick recipe. I added a little kale at the end for some colour.

  49. Used my slow cooker. Was so easy to prepare. I ended up using 2 lemons for the juice. I didn’t add zest since my lemons weren’t organic, but will def try it next time. Love the lemony flavors, really brightens and compliments the lentils nicely. Will absolutely make this again since it was so easy.

  50. I’m a Lawrence transplant who recently discovered Aladdin Cafe’s lentil soup. I’ve been searching for similar recipes to try to make it myself. I can’t wait to try this!