This simple delicious Red Lentil Soup recipe will soon become your new favorite! Easy to make, with simple, wholesome ingredients, in very little time! Vegan and Gluten-free.

red lentil soup in a bowl with drizzle of olive oil, parsley, sumac.

This red lentil soup has long been a staple around here; I love it so much that I crave it, and it’s a soup that always makes me feel full and satiated. Loosely based on Turkish Red Lentil Soup (Mercimek Corbasi), it is full of protein and delicious flavor and is probably the soup I make most often. It grounds me. After spending a long weekend in Savannah with girlfriends eating out for most meals, I couldn’t wait to get a pot of this simmering on the stove when I got home!

Made with split red lentils and simple ingredients, the cooking time is quick, and the soup is deliciously creamy without any dairy. It can easily be adapted if you don’t have a particular ingredient.

Why You’ll Love This

  1. Quick & easy to make. Only 15 minutes of hands-on time. Simple ingredients you may already have!
  2. Wholesome ingredients. Vegetables, spices, and broth come together in this nutrient-rich recipe.
  3. Satisfying! Rich in protein, and incredibly comforting and satiating.
  4. Adaptable. Easy to make with what you have on hand—many substitutes listed!
  5. Vegan & gluten-free! Creamy and flavorful, but dairy-free and gluten-free!

What are Red Lentils & What do they taste Like?

Red lentils, also known as Masoor dal in some parts of the world, are small, split legumes that have had their outer skins removed, revealing the orange-pink flesh inside. They are one of the quickest-cooking lentils available and get really tender, almost disintegrating without their skin, ideal for soups and stews.

When red lentils taste very mild, with a sweet, earthy flavor which allows them to absorb the flavors of the spices, herbs, and broths they are cooked with. This adaptability makes them a favored ingredient in many cuisines worldwide, from Indian dals to Middle Eastern soups to Turkey (Mercimek Çorbası).

bowl of red lentils next to lemon, red onion, tomato, celery, carrots, garlic, and spices to make red lentil soup.

Red Lentil Soup Ingredients

  • Red lentils -use split red lentils, with their outer skin removed for the fastest cooking.
  • Olive oil – both for sauteeing and drizzling afterwards.
  • Onion and fresh garlic cloves: Use a large onion, red onion is a great choice, or two fat shallots.
  • Carrots: Use 2 large carrots or sub with diced sweet potato.
  • Celery: optional, but adds flavor.
  • Spices: Salt, black pepper, ground cumin, sumac, paprika (or chili powder), and pinch of Aleppo chili flakes ( or cayenne). See notes for other options!
  • Tomato: A medium tomato, or sub a red bell pepper or 1-2 tablespoons tomato paste.
  • Vegetable broth: Or chicken stock, or just use water, see notes!
  • Lemon: a squeeze of fresh lemon juice.
  • Garnishes: A drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a sprinkling of fresh herbs (parsley, cilantro, or mint), Aleppo Chili flakes, Urfa Biber, or a sprinkle of sumac.

*See the full recipe card below for detailed ingredients and quantities.

How to Make Red Lentil Soup (instructions)

Step 1: Prep all of the veggies.

Step 2: In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion and garlic, and stir for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant.

Step 3: Then lower to medium heat, add carrots, celery, salt, and pepper, and saute for 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes, salt and spices and saute for 2-3 minutes. 

Step 4: Pour in the lentils, broth and water. Increase to medium-high heat, bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked through.

Step 5: Using an immersion blender, puree the soup- leaving a little texture. (Or blend half of the soup in the blender or food processor.) *If you prefer a thinner soup, add more broth or liquid to desired consistency, seasoning as necessary. 

Step 6: Squeeze with ½ of the lemon and a generous pinch of cayenne. Taste, adjusting salt, lemon juice and cayenne to taste.  The soup will start to taste more flavorful as it cools down a bit. If it tastes bland, it just needs salt. Just make sure salt and lemon are adequate and balanced. This is key.

creamy red lentil soup in dutch oven garnished with parsley and sumac.

Serve: Divide among bowls and drizzle with good olive oil, fresh herbs or microgreens, lemon zest, Aleppo chili flakes, or a sprinkling of sumac. Add chopped tomatoes when in season. You could also serve with a spoonful of coconut milk or a scoop of Greek yogurt (obviously not vegan!).

FAQs

Do I need to soak lentils before using them in soup?

You do not need to soak the lentils, but you should give them a rinse!

What is the difference between this Lentil Soup and Dal

They are, in fact, quite similar. This lentil soup recipe has Turkish spices, while dal is thicker and has Indian spices. You can easily add Indian spices here and give this an Indian spin.

Can this be made in an instant pot?

Yes! Follow the recipe using the saute function (shortening the time as needed) then add all the ingredeints to the instant pot. Pressure cook on high for 4 minutes, naturally release 15 minutes. Blend using an immersion blender, adjust salt and lemon to taste.

What to Serve with Red Lentil Soup

Storage & Reheating

You can store leftover Red Lentil Soup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.

The soup will last in the freezer for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge before reheating.

Reheat on the stovetop, adding more broth or water if the texture is too thick. You can also warm up in the microwave.

Health Benefits of Red Lentils

Red lentils are a nutritional powerhouse! Here are some of their key health benefits:

  1. Rich in nutrients: Red lentils are packed with essential vitamins and minerals, such as B vitamins, iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc.
  2. High in protein: With around 18 grams of protein per cooked cup, red lentils are an excellent source of protein, which is vital for muscle repair, immune function, and overall health.
  3. Source of fiber: Red lentils are high in dietary fiber, both soluble and insoluble, with around 15 grams per cooked cup. This fiber aids digestive health and may lower cholesterol levels.
  4. Heart health: The significant amounts of folate and magnesium in red lentils contribute to heart health. Folate helps lower levels of homocysteine, an amino acid that, at high levels, is associated with heart disease. Magnesium improves blood flow, oxygen, and nutrients throughout the body.
  5. Boosts energy: Lentils help to replenish your iron stores. Iron plays a critical role in energy production and metabolism.
creamy red lentil soup in pot with ladle, garnished with parsley, aleppo chili flakes, sumac.

More Favorite Lentil Soup Recipes

I know you will love this Red Lentil Soup! Please rate it for us and let us know what you think in the comments below!

xo- Sylvia

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best red lentil soup recipe

Red Lentil Soup

5 Stars 4 Stars 3 Stars 2 Stars 1 Star 5 from 15 reviews
  • Author: Sylvia Fountaine | Feasting at Home
  • Prep Time: 15
  • Cook Time: 30
  • Total Time: 45 minutes
  • Yield: 8 cups 1x
  • Category: soup
  • Method: stovetop
  • Cuisine: American
  • Diet: Vegan

Description

This simple delicious Red Lentil Soup recipe will soon become your new favorite! Easy to make, with simple, wholesome ingredients, in very little time! Vegan and Gluten-free. Adapted from the NY Times (Melissa Clark, Red Lentil Soup).  


Ingredients

Units Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, diced (red onion is nice here)
  • 4 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 2 cups carrots, diced (2 large carrots, or sub diced yam)
  • 1 celery stalk, sliced optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt, more to taste ( see notes)
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 medium tomato, diced (or sub 1 red bell pepper or 1 tablespoon tomato paste)
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon sumac, optional
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder, or red paprika (not smoked)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 4 cups vegetable broth, chicken stock or water ( see notes)
  • 1 cup water
  • Generous pinch cayenne pepper or aleppo chile flakes
  • Large squeeze of fresh lemon juice

Garnishes – a drizzle of olive oil, fresh herbs: parsley, cilantro or mint, microgreens, chopped tomatoes,  Aleppo Chili flakes, Urfa Biber, or a sprinkle of sumac.


Instructions

  1. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat, add the onion and garlic, and stir  for 3-4 minutes, until fragrant, then lower heat to medium, add carrots, celery, salt, and pepper, and saute for 7 minutes. Add the tomatoes and spices and saute for 2-3 minutes. 
  2. Pour in the lentils, broth and water. Increase to medium-high heat, bring to a boil, cover, and lower heat to a gentle simmer for 20 minutes or until lentils are cooked through.
  3. Using an immersion blender, partly puree the soup- leaving a little texture. (Or blend half of the soup in the blender.) *If you prefer a thinner soup, add more broth or liquid to desired consistency, seasoning as necessary. 
  4. Squeeze with ½ the lemon and a pinch of cayenne.  Taste, adjusting salt, lemon juice and cayenne to taste.  *If you use water instead of broth, you’ll need another ¾-1 teaspoon of salt. The soup will start to taste more flavorful as it cools down a bit. If it tastes bland, find the balance between salt and lemon, adding more to taste. Cayenne is nice too. 
  5. Divide among bowls, drizzle with good olive oil, fresh herbs,  Aleppo chili flakes or a sprinkling of sumac

Notes

Water: If using water and not broth, you’ll need to add more salt,  perhaps a teaspoon,  and maybe some  granulated garlic or onion powder and a bay leaf.  🙂 

Spices: Feel free to play around with spices! Try Garam Masala, Ras el Hanout, or turmeric and ginger, or even taco seasoning! As long as you get the salt/ acid ratio right, it should taste yummy. 

Storage: Soup will keep up to 4 days in the refrigerator or freeze for up to 3 months. When reheating the soup, feel free to add more broth or water to loosen it if it feels too thick. 

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1 cup
  • Calories: 200
  • Sugar: 5.1 g
  • Sodium: 608 mg
  • Fat: 6.4 g
  • Saturated Fat: 0.9 g
  • Carbohydrates: 30.3 g
  • Fiber: 5.4 g
  • Protein: 8.5 g
  • Cholesterol: 0 mg

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Comments

  1. Such a simple yet delightful soup – I can eat this all-year round. Fresh tomatoes make all the difference, and saving a little for the top to drizzle with olive oil.
    I haven’t tried sumac yet and keep forgetting to pick some up for the next batch – hopefully will remember for next time!






  2. I just made this for the first time today. It’s excellent! I had two helpings for lunch. I didn’t have sumac, but when I make this again (and I WILL make it again) I’ll get sumac to see how it makes a difference. In the meantime, this soup is wonderful even without the sumac!






  3. This is the most fabulous lentil ever! So good, that I am making it again this week. Prior to this, I always added a few drops of vinegar, but that sumac and lemon just makes this soup! I did not use the immersion blender but left it whole and added some spinach as I had to use it up. Tonight I topped it with more sumac and Urfa Biber. Thank you for the recipe!






  4. I love this soup! I’ve made it several times since the recipe was posted. It’s the best lentil soup I’ve ever made. Thank you!






  5. I added some more spices, but this is a great base! I’ve been eating the leftovers as a wrap :).






  6. I have been trying to find a way to cook lentils that I would like. When I found this recipe I was excited to try it and it was delicious! Will make again:)

  7. This was an excellent easy soup to help use up veggies. We topped it with Greek yogurt and served with a glass of Chardonnay and a Mediterranean Wedge Salad…perfection!

  8. Incredible flavor! My hubby, who is not a lentil fan, loved it. I had sweet potatoes on hand and used one instead of the carrots. I was a little hesitant about the lemon, but added it along with the cayenne. We have a new soup to add to our list of favorites. Paired it with your suggested Classic Greek salad.






  9. I had a partial bag of red lentils in my pantry that I kept moving aside for other things. I saw this recipe come up and knew I had to try it. It was so flavorful and quick to make. Now I need to buy more red lentils…






  10. This is so simple, nutritious, and delicious! It was quick – l blended it smooth and didn’t add lemon or seasoning. Nonetheless, I enjoyed it with a just drizzle of olive oil – thank you for the recipe!!






  11. I love red lentils AND Feasting at Home, so when I saw this recipe, I was pumped to try it. Definitely a winner. I did not add the cup of water or blend it, resulting in a creamy, thick soup (like dal). I also used Oceans Organic Halo Pho Broth, which was soooo yummy!






  12. Easy, delicious and came together very quickly. Loved the combo of warming spices and lemon. Coming out of winter a lighter soup that still feels substantial is just perfect. The sumac is a great addition and balances with the other spices nicely. I didn’t have Aleppo chili flakes for topping but I think they’d be a great addition so will be sure to get some for next time. Thanks for another great recipe Sylvia!






  13. Wow! So delicious. This recipe just sings – the fresh lemon with sumac, just the right amount of the other spices. The words about the salt and lemon at the end are so important. When it got to the right level of salt, it became like a whole other soup. And then the garnishes took it to a whole other level again. That’s a high level! I loved a drizzle of olive oil, Aleppo chili flakes, and diced fresh cilantro on top. I might have skipped the oil without the guidance. I will always use it now. Thank you, Sylvia! You bring me so much joy!






    1. Thanks so much and appreciate your notes here! I agree, salt, lemon and olive oil make the recipe. I often make this with just water and not broth, if the salt is right, it works. 🙂

  14. I realized I had some red lentils in my pantry so thought I would try this recipe. I had to substitute harissa for the chili powder as I was out but followed the recipe otherwise. I was surprised at how good it was as I can’t remember how long I’ve had the red lentils (LOL) or what I made with them before. Thank you for another delicious meal.






  15. Delicious! It’s almost done cooking, my kitchen smells divine! Followed the recipe to a T, the flavors are wonderful. Thank you! I am keeping this recipe for the future!






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