This easy Lebanese-inspired soup is a one-pot meal that can be made in 30 minutes! Serve it with hummus, veggies, and pita bread for dipping.
The inspiration for Lemon Lentil Soup comes from my favorite restaurant in Cleveland, Ohio. It’s called Taza, and it’s where I fell in love with Lebanese food.
Their hummus, schawarma, fattoush, and falafel are must-trys, but I come back to the lemon lentil soup every time.
When I moved to Chicago, I had to re-create the soup. Over the years I’ve tinkered with a recipe, and finally landed on this version.
It’s easy to make and only uses one pot. It’s quick cooking too—the whole soup cooks in just about 30 minutes.
- Yellow onion, carrot, and garlic add lots of great flavor.
- Red lentils are key here—they break down as they cook, resulting in a creamy soup.
- Turmeric adds a beautiful golden hue, and cumin adds a warm earthiness to the lentils.
- Veggie stock or chicken stock will work well here (obviously use veggie stock if you want this to be vegetarian).
- We’ll use both the zest and the juice of a lemon for lots of bright, fresh citrus flavor.
How to make lemon lentil soup
Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté the onion and carrot until soft.
Add the garlic, cumin, and turmeric, and sauté for 30 seconds. Sautéeing the spices before adding liquid helps them “bloom”, which releases their flavor. And the aromas are heavenly!
Then, add the lentils and chicken stock, and cook for 18–20 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
I always clean up while the lentils cook. I love a meal where you can clean up while in the process of cooking. I’m not a fan of doing the dishes (is anyone?) but I’ll happily do them while my meal cooks so I can relax afterward.
I also chop some veggies, get out the hummus, and warm up some pita bread to serve with the soup. To warm pita bread in the oven, wrap the pita in foil and place in a 350°F oven for 5–8 minutes, or until warm.
Finally, add the zest and juice of one lemon. The lemon really brightens the flavor, perking up the modest lentils into something amazing.
Garnish with cilantro and a drizzle of olive oil.
The verdict? It tastes just like it does at the restaurant! It’s such a comforting dish on a chilly day.
I love serving it to friends who come for dinner. It’s vegetarian and vegan, too!
Do lentils need to be soaked before cooking?
Lentils do not need to be soaked. Rinse the lentils in cool running water before using. This will remove any debris.
Can I use brown lentils for this soup?
Red lentils taste the best, as they are milder tasting than other lentil varieties.
Can I freeze lentil soup?
To freeze lentil soup, let it cool and ladle it into resealable plastic freezer bags. Seal the bags and lay flat in the freezer. The soup can be stored in the freezer for up to 2 months. To defrost, place the bag in the refrigerator overnight, or place the bag in a bowl of warm water, and let sit until defrosted. You may need to add more hot water as the water cools down.
Is lentil soup vegetarian?
Lemon lentil soup is vegetarian, provided that you use vegetable stock (and not chicken stock). It’s vegan, too!
How to serve lemon lentil soup
The soup is creamy (despite not having cream in it), so it’s nice to add garnishes that contrast with the soup.
Chopped cilantro adds a fresh flavor, and crushed pita chips contrast nicely with the soup. I also like to serve it with warm pita for dipping.
This is crossing cultures here, but it would also be delicious with Garlic Butter Naan.
And speaking of other cultures, if you love red lentils, you’ll love this Vegetarian Red Lentil Dal!
Lemon Lentil Soup
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion, finely diced
- 1 large carrot (or 8 baby carrots), finely diced
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric
- Pinch of cayenne pepper (or more if you like it spicy!)
- 1 cup red lentils
- 3½ cups vegetable or chicken stock
- ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
- Zest and juice of 1 lemon
- For garnish: chopped cilantro and olive oil
- Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot. Sauté until the carrot is soft and the onion is translucent, about 4–5 minutes.
- Meanwhile, rinse the lentils in a colander under cool running water.
- Add the garlic, cumin, turmeric, and cayenne pepper to the pot. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
- Add the lentils, chicken stock, and salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Cook for 18–20 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until the lentils are tender.
- Stir in the lemon zest and juice.
- Divide the soup among 3–4 bowls. Garnish with chopped cilantro and olive oil. Crushed pita chips are nice, too!