Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup

By Rena |

A healthy Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup recipe that is hearty, filling, and full of comforting flavor. This one-pot soup is super easy to make and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Plus it’s vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free. 

top view lentil soup in white bowl with spoon in it and lemon slice garnish

If you’re looking for a good Meatless Monday dinner this winter, Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup is the perfect recipe! This soup is fast and simple to make, and all made in one pot for easy cleanup. It’s made with onions, carrots, red lentils, seasonings, and fresh lemon for a burst of bright flavor. It’s a very filling and hearty soup that will satisfy kids and adults alike.

Why you should make this vegan lentil soup recipe

  • It’s healthy. Lentils are a great vegan or vegetarian option because they are full of plant-based protein and fiber. Plus this soup is full of vitamin B, iron, folate, and other nutrients. 
  • It’s budget-friendly.  Lentils are so affordable, which makes this a great Meatless Monday dinner or meal to serve to a large family. 
  • Delicious and flavorful. The flavors in this lentil soup come from the earthy turmeric and warm cumin. Add some fresh lemon to pull it all together. So delicious!
top view of lentil soup in white bowl with hand holding spoon

Ingredients You’ll Need

This is just a list of ingredients you will need to make this easy Lentil Soup Recipe. Full measurements are listed further down below.

Olive oil
Onion
Garlic cloves
Carrots
Ground turmeric
Ground Cumin
Kosher salt
Black pepper
Red lentils
Water
Lemon
Fresh curly parsley

Ingredient for red lentil soup on counter before cooking

How to Make Lentil Soup

  • Saute veggies. Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch Oven. Sauté the onion, garlic, and carrots for 3-4 minutes, until softened and slightly golden.
  • Add other ingredients. Stir in the remaining ingredients except for parsley. We love washing the lentils before adding it in.
  • Cook soup. Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender and soup has thickened.
  • Serve with garnishes. Once the soup is ready, taste, and adjust the salt if needed. Serve hot, garnished with freshly chopped parsley and lemon wedges. 
Top view of Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup garnished with lemon and parsley

Tips and substitutions

  • Olive oil: You can substitute it with avocado oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, or sunflower oil. 
  • Onion: You can use yellow onion, white onion, or sweet onion. 
  • Lentils: You can substitute the red lentils for green, although the flavor and texture will be slightly different. 
  • Use fresh lentils: Old lentils won’t soften, even with a long cooking time. Use lentils that are newly bought for best results. 
  • Sort the lentils: Before cooking, quickly sift through the lentils to remove any small debris or pebbles. Wash/rinse the lentils thoroughly.
  • Simmer gently: Lentils can easily get mushy if they are cooked on too high of a heat. Simmer the soup gently for soft, but not mushy, lentils.
Spoon scooping vegan red lentil soup from bowl garnished with parsley

How to make this lentil soup in your instant pot

  • First, place the instant pot into sauté mode. Heat the oil.
  • Then, add the onion, garlic, and carrots and cook for 2 minutes. Stir frequently until onion and carrots have softened.
  • Next, add the remaining ingredients in the pot except for the parsley. Don’t forget to rinse out the lentils before adding them in.
  • Place the lid over the pot. Press the pressure cook button, place it on high, and let it cook for 15 minutes. When it’s done, quick release, open the lid, and mix.
  • If it’s not thick enough to your liking, you may keep it on saute mode for another 5 minutes.
  • Serve with some fresh parsley and lemons

FAQs

Do lentils need to be soaked? 

It is not necessary to soak the lentils before cooking, but you can do so if you prefer. Soak in cold water for about 30 minutes, then remove any debris that floats to the top. This is a completely optional step and does not seem to have a big effect on cooking time or the final soup. 

How long does lentil soup last? 

This red lentil soup recipe will last in the fridge for up to 1 week. You can reheat in the microwave or on the stove. 

Can I freeze Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup?

This vegan or vegetarian lentil soup is great for freezing and serving later. Cool the soup completely, then freeze in a sealed container for up to 4 months. Thaw, then reheat in the microwave or on the stove. 

What should I serve with vegan lentil soup? 

Here are some side ideas that go well with red lentil soup. 
Bread: naan, pita, or artisan bread loaf
Simple salad: A simple green salad or this Cucumber and Tomato Salad would be good pairings. 
Veggies: Roasted Garlic Cauliflower or our Crispy Baked Parmesan Zucchini Fries would be good sides.

Bowl of Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup with pot in background

Other soup recipes

spoon in lentil soup

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top view lentil soup in white bowl with spoon in it and lemon slice garnish

Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup

A healthy Middle Eastern Red Lentil Soup recipe that is hearty, filling, and full of comforting flavor. This one-pot soup is super easy to make and perfect for a weeknight dinner. Plus it’s vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free.
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Course: Main Course, Soup
Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 40 minutes
Servings: 6
Calories: 211kcal
Author: Rena

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 large onion chopped
  • 2-3 garlic cloves pressed or minced
  • 3-4 medium carrots chopped into big chunks
  • 1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp kosher salt or to taste
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 5 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 1 lemon half juiced, half cut into wedges to serve with
  • A small bunch of fresh curly parsley for garnishing

Instructions

  • Heat the oil in a large pot or Dutch Oven.
  • Sauté the onion, garlic and carrots for 3-4 minutes, until softened and slightly golden.
  • Stir in the remaining ingredients except for parsley.
  • Bring the soup to a boil, then cover and reduce heat to low. Cook for 20-25 minutes, or until lentils are tender and soup has thickened.
  • Once the soup is ready, taste and adjust the seasoning, if needed.
  • Serve hot, garnished with freshly chopped parsley.

Notes

  • Olive oil: You can substitute it with avocado oil, peanut oil, vegetable oil, or sunflower oil. 
  • Onion: You can use yellow onion, white onion, or sweet onion. 
  • Lentils: You can substitute the red lentils for green, although the flavor and texture will be slightly different. 
  • Wash the lentils: Make sure you wash the lentils thoroughly. This will remove starched and debris from the lentil.
  • Use fresh lentils: Old lentils won’t soften, even with a long cooking time. Use lentils that are newly bought for best results. 
  • Water or broth: If you prefer using vegetable broth it’s fine. But water works just as great.
  • Sort the lentils: Before cooking, quickly sift through the lentils to remove any small debris or pebbles. 
  • Simmer gently: Lentils can easily get mushy if they are cooked on too high of a heat. Simmer the soup gently for soft, but not mushy, lentils.
  • Storage: Store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 1 week. 
  • Freezing: Cool completely, then store in an air-tight container for up to 4 months. 

Nutrition

Calories: 211kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 13g | Fat: 3g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Sodium: 423mg | Potassium: 603mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 4g | Vitamin A: 5113IU | Vitamin C: 15mg | Calcium: 57mg | Iron: 4mg
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