Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | Gimme Some Oven (2024)

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This Lemony Lentil Soup recipe is full of 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 | Gimme Some Oven (1)

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 lately. So for any of you who have yet to give it a try, 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 one million times over the years and missed something fierce after we moved away. So a few years ago, I set to work trying to recreate it. And while nothing will compare in our memory to the original, I have to say that I’m really pleased with how my version turned out!

This cozy red lentil soup is simmered with 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.

Let’s make some lemony lentil soup together!

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | 1-Minute Video

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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 are welcome to use chicken stock if you prefer.
  • Red lentils:Which I love for this soup because they break down quickly 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 (which is 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.

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How To Make Lentil Soup:

I have included detailed instructions in the full recipe 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 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 their best flavors. (This step may require an extra sauté pan, if using a Crock-Pot, or using the sauté feature in the Instant 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 (or pressure cook or slow cook) until the lentils are tender.
  3. Blend (optional).Using either ahand blenderortraditional blender, puree the soup until it reaches your desired consistency.
  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 lemon slice, and enjoy!

Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | Gimme Some Oven (4)

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 for a creamy twist.
  • Add greens.You could also stir some fresh baby spinach or chopped kale into the soup just before serving if you’d like to add some greens.

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More Lentil Soup Recipes:

Looking for more easy lentil soup recipes to try? Here are a few of my faves:

  • Turkish Lentil Soup
  • Italian Lentil Soup
  • Tomato Lentil Curry
  • Vegetarian Lentil Chili
  • Mexican-Inspired Chicken Lentil Soup

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Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | Gimme Some Oven (7)

Lemony Lentil Soup

5 Stars4 Stars3 Stars2 Stars1 Star4.9 from 326 reviews

  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 25 minutes
  • Total Time: 35 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
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Description

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.

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 the onions, carrots, garlic if you can before cooking them in the Instant Pot or slow cooker, in order to give them the best flavor. But if you’re in a rush, no worries, you can skip the sauté and just add them in together with all of the other ingredients. :)

Storage instructions:Any leftovers can be refrigerated in a food storage container for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months.

Source: Recipe inspired by my favorite lentil soup from Aladdin Cafe in Kansas City.

posted on March 21, 2022 by Ali

Dairy-free, Gluten-free, Main Dishes, Mediterranean-Inspired, Soups / Stews, Vegan, Vegetarian

458 Comments »

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458 comments on “Lemony Lentil Soup”

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  1. Shaye July 9, 2022 @ 1:24 pm Reply

    My daughter, aka my executive chef (she picks out recipes for me to make each week for dinner), chose this recipe and it has become part of our monthly rotation now. Very good.

  2. Laura August 2, 2022 @ 12:54 pm Reply

    Delicious! I omitted the corn and added a few baby potatoes
    Even better on second day!

  3. Frances August 17, 2022 @ 2:25 pm Reply

    Best Red Lentil soup recipe that I have tried. So much flavor. I think the corn really added something for me. Thank you for a wonderful recipe.

    • Jeanette Decharo January 31, 2024 @ 4:46 pm

      I made this soup and it is so delicious, I can’t get enough. I substituted turmeric and added fresh grated ginger. I will be making it again in a few weeks. Thank you for the recipe. It’s definitely a winner

  4. Trixee August 20, 2022 @ 1:55 pm Reply

    This soup is a staple in our house. Quick, easy and delicious. I added some pumpkin puree based on a comment below and it was good that way too.

  5. Sharon September 22, 2022 @ 4:45 pm Reply

    It was very good. Used a shake of turmeric in place of the saffron.

  6. ChrisKC September 23, 2022 @ 7:15 pm Reply

    Made this a second time tonight but added a pinch of turmeric and some fresh grated ginger it’s so good!!! I live in the Kansas City area was the restaurant Jerusalem Cafe?

  7. Katy September 28, 2022 @ 7:29 am Reply

    This has been in my rotation now for the last 4 years or so. SO delicious. I go overboard with the spices, and I love to top it with guacamole and some sweet salsa if I have any (like Trader Joe’s corn salsa!).

    It’s so perfect, easy to prep and keep in the fridge all week. 10/10 thanks so much for sharing this. + shout out to my friend Sophia for sending me this when we were back at St. Edward’s!

  8. Jenni September 29, 2022 @ 7:26 am Reply

    I love this recipe. I’ve made it at least a dozen times. It’s so delicious and filling, without being heavy. It has such well developed flavors. And it’s a perfect soup for a pot luck, or to take to work for lunch, or wherever you need to travel. It thickens up a bit when cooled, hence no spilling or sloshing around. And when reheated, this soup is the perfect consistency. Love it! Love it! Love it! Thank you so much for this recipe.

  9. Daria manzoli October 11, 2022 @ 2:19 pm Reply

    I did make this soup but it wasn’t yellow I did use the red lentils I did not use saffron .it was good but it was brown in color

  10. Barbara Kimball October 13, 2022 @ 5:49 am Reply

    I won’t use corn, because it’s GMO in this country and it’s high glycemic. Would I have to substitute something else to make up for omitting the corn?

    • Ali October 13, 2022 @ 7:50 am

      Hi Barbara, you’re welcome to just omit the corn entirely.

  11. Nicole November 14, 2022 @ 12:41 pm Reply

    This soup was my first time making anything with lentils and I love it! Super easy to make, quick and very delicious. Didn’t have curry so I added a little turmeric, ginger and chili powder, as well as a scoop of pumpkin and it tastes amazing! Will be making this one often through winter!

  12. Sandy November 15, 2022 @ 4:03 pm Reply

    I love this recipe, and have made it several times. Always a hit with guests. Just wondering if you have any nutrition info to share. It could be per cup, or for the entire recipe and I will do the math. Thanks.

  13. Nancy December 16, 2022 @ 11:46 am Reply

    We are absolutely loving this soup. I didn’t have a lemon so it just got 2-3 tsp lemon juice. It was so creamy out of the instant pot that I didn’t blend. The texture of the corn and the visual of the carrots made it perfect. Thank you for another “keeper” recipe.

  14. Amanda January 2, 2023 @ 9:55 pm Reply

    I’ve been using this recipe for a few years. It’s a regular at our house. Never gets old. Healthy, filling, easy to prepare and full of flavor. It’s delivious!

  15. Aubrey January 6, 2023 @ 2:26 pm Reply

    Yummy!!! This was so easy to make and tastes great. My picky husband ate 2 bowls. I only used the lemon juice, not the zest and was still great.

  16. Melissa January 6, 2023 @ 3:55 pm Reply

    I’ve made all kinds of lentil soup and this was by far the best one! My husband has asked me to make it 3x in the last month. Something about the carrots & corn make such a difference. I did add in some shredded rotisserie chicken I had leftover for some added protein.

  17. Mark Hansen January 10, 2023 @ 1:20 am Reply

    I fell totally lucky crossing paths great news this lentil soup recipes I included all never made before but always on my mind so thanks for the quick start ! This outta be good I actually have a pressure / slow cooker not a insta pot but rather another brand does the same thing exactly I’ve always made my split pea soup in it dries yellow or green with my chicken or veggie stock a bag of store bought coleslaw butternut squash onion grated carrot and I’m basically off 2 the races at a 15 min pressure cook no purée necessary comes out like I put it in my ancient vita mix purée directly bout of the cooker it’s really quite amazing how that works did it by mistake 1 day now every day I make it that’s the way ! Thanks again Ali ! Mark

  18. Tobie January 17, 2023 @ 1:09 pm Reply

    What is the serving size? 1 cup? 2?

  19. Janice Farren January 29, 2023 @ 2:10 pm Reply

    One of my favorite soup recipes ! Quick and easy and full of flavor. I like to add celery with the onion and carrot.

  20. Joseph February 2, 2023 @ 5:56 am Reply

    I know I’ll be hated but I found it to be the most disgusting tasting soup. It may look pretty on the table but stick with a basic simple lentil soup and don’t puree it. The curry is not for everybody.

  21. Anna August 12, 2023 @ 4:54 pm Reply

    Amazing recipe! I’ve been looking for a dupe for this citrus lentil soup a local market had, and this tastes just like it. Quick and easy too. This is definitely going to be added to our regular rotation. Thank you!

  22. Michelle September 20, 2023 @ 6:44 pm Reply

    This is absolutely the best lentil soup. Hands down. I can never make enough for my family. 🥣👨🏻‍🍳
    Here is a small tip. I can not afford saffron, so I sprinkle 1t of turmeric. It won’t be as pretty as with the saffron but pretty enough. Enjoy.
    Michelle

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Lemony Lentil Soup Recipe | Gimme Some Oven (2024)

FAQs

Why is my lentil soup tasteless? ›

To avoid a bland lentil soup, use a flavorful broth—whether that's homemade or store-bought chicken or vegetable broth. The other key is building flavor. To do so, use aromatics like onions and garlic, include fresh or dried herbs, and season well with salt and pepper.

Do you rinse lentils before making soup? ›

The other good news: Lentils don't need to soak as beans do (though you do need to sort and rinse them before cooking). Different types of lentils cook in different amounts of time. Red lentils are the fastest cooking and they dissolve as they cook and make for a smooth soup.

What makes lentils taste better? ›

Use flavorful broths or stocks: Instead of plain water, cook your lentils in vegetable broth, chicken broth, or other flavorful stocks. The lentils will absorb the savory flavors, making them more tasty and satisfying.

Do you cook lentils covered or uncovered? ›

Cook your lentils uncovered on low heat for 20-45 minutes (based on the variety) to plump them up while avoiding split skins and mushy results. Add more liquid as needed until the lentils are done. A good ratio to start with is 1 cup of lentils to 2½ cups of liquid.

How can I deepen my soup flavor? ›

Adding umami-rich ingredients like tomato paste or a parmesan rind to the soup will add a deep, rich savoriness and body to the soup.

How do I increase the depth of flavor in soup? ›

Add acidic ingredients.

Foods that have a great deal of acidity, like lemon juice, vinegar, white wine, and tomato puree, can help liven up the flavor of bland-tasting bone and other broths. "The acidity of these ingredients works to complement and enhance the broth's flavors, not mask it.

Can you overcook lentils in soup? ›

Yes, cooking lentils for too long will cause them to become mushy. Cooking them at a rapid boil will also cause them to get mushy. Simmer them slowly to keep them intact.

What happens if I forgot to rinse lentils? ›

It is generally recommended to rinse lentils before cooking them to remove any debris or impurities [1]. However, forgetting to rinse them before adding them to your soup does not necessarily mean that the meal is unsafe to eat.

Why did my lentil soup turn brown? ›

As the veggies hit the boiling water, volatile acids are released into the water and are carried away in the steam. When the pot is covered, the steam and the acids it contains are forced back into the water. Once there, the acids react with the chlorophyll in the vegetables, turning them an unsightly shade of brown.

What is the best lentil flavor? ›

Black Beluga lentils have the most flavor, adding a rich, earthy taste and a firm texture that holds up well during cooking. Black lentils will be ready in 20–25 minutes; however, they will fall apart like their brown, green, and red partners once you cook them for too long.

Why do I feel so good after eating lentils? ›

Lentils are rich in fibre, folate and potassium making them a great choice for the heart and for managing blood pressure and cholesterol. They are also a source of energising iron and vitamin B1 which helps maintain a steady heartbeat.

What are the most flavorful lentils? ›

These are the most flavorful lentils around. Black lentils might not be quite as common as the other varieties, but buy them if you can find them. They're small, nearly spherical, and can be mistaken for brown lentils with a darker shade of brown. What sets them apart is a thicker skin.

How do you know when lentils are done? ›

Lentils are cooked as soon as they are tender and no longer crunchy. Older lentils may take longer to cook and shed their outer skins as they cook. Strain the lentils and remove the bay leaf, if used. Return the lentils to the pan and stir in 1/4 teaspoon salt.

Why should you not season lentils until the end of cooking? ›

Be sure to season with salt after cooking – if salt is added before, the lentils will become tough. Canned lentils are also another great time-saving option – just be sure to rinse them under fresh water for about one minute in order to reduce the sodium content.

How do you fix bland lentils? ›

Follow this tip: Add a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf, a spring of rosemary, half of an onion, or a combination of these aromatics to the cooking water or stock to help flavor the lentils.

Why are my lentils bland? ›

The simple answer: you cooked them too long. Lentils are actually quite difficult to get right.

Why does my soup have no flavor? ›

Let the Broth Evaporate and Cook Longer

If your broth tastes thin and bland, you may want to cook and let it evaporate for longer. That helps concentrate its flavors and gives you a better-tasting soup broth. Be sure to remove the lid to let the steam escape.

Why are lentils so bland? ›

You're not cooking them with aromatics and spices

Lentils need a little bit of love to really make them shine, which is why you should always cook with plenty of aromatics and spices. According to Taste of Home, aromatics are different herbs or vegetables designed to add nuance and taste to your dish.

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