A quick and easy, thick and hearty, Red Lentil Soup with Lemon. It's fragrant, super tasty, healthy, nourishing, simple, and versatile!
"Mel, you have a knack for flavor profiles! The soup is so balanced in flavor. The lemon is one of your great additions...We have made it multiple times and it will stay in our "much-used" recipes. Thank you!" - Stanzy ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ More reviews →
Things you need to know about this Red Lentil Soup with Lemon ... It is PACKED with flavor (yes throw out ALL of your lentil preconceptions), it's thick and hearty in an almost cross-between soup and stew kinda way, and it's lemony, garlicky, and fragrant, and packed with vegetables.
It's also super healthy and flexible, just like my vegan vegetable soup and chickpea curry soup. Not got one of the veggies? Leave it out or throw in whatever you do have. You can even omit the lemon and it still tastes amazing. I'll give some ideas for great subs and additions below.
It's savory, fresh, and bright whilst also being healthy, pantry-friendly, warm, and cozy.
It all starts with the usual vegan soup recipe gang ... onions, garlic, celery, carrots, and stock but then along to the party comes:
- Red lentils - I don't recommend using green or brown lentils in this recipe, but if you do you will need to reduce the liquid accordingly. They won't break down and thicken the soup like red lentils do.
- Potatoes - My go-to potato for soups is Yukon Gold. Red potatoes work well too. They both keep their shape. Starchier potatoes like russets will break down more.
- Dried herbs - Italian seasoning or Herbs de Provence. Or you can use a couple of individual herbs like oregano, parsley, marjoram, or thyme.
- Kale - A good choice in soups because it keeps its shape and texture. Any other greens will work instead though. If using spinach bear in mind that it cooks very quickly so you should add it in the last couple of minutes.
- Lemon juice - We're talking excessive amounts for lots of zippy fresh citrus flavor.
- Sugar - This is used as a seasoning rather than a sweetener. It's just a small amount and makes a huge difference. It mellows the tartness of the acidic lemon, provides balance, and enhances all of the other flavors.
How To Make Red Lentil Soup
Can't wait to make it? The full printable recipe is below, but first, let me give you a quick walkthrough to set you up for success when it's your turn:
Step 1 - Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery (so important for amping up those flavors so don't rush them!)
Step 2 - Add the lentils, potatoes, garlic, herbs, and seasonings and cook a bit more.
Step 3 - Add the stock then bring to a gentle simmer. Cook until the lentils and veggies are tender.
Step 4 - Add the greens and let them simmer for a few minutes then turn off the heat, add the lemon juice, stir, and serve.
Make It Your Own
This is a very flexible recipe and you can switch up most of the ingredients to suit what you have on hand. Here are some ideas:
- Use sweet potatoes instead of regular potatoes.
- Use spinach (fresh or frozen), collard greens, or Swiss Chard instead of kale.
- Omit the greens completely.
- Omit the lemon.
- Add leftover cooked grains (like brown rice, sorghum, farro, or quinoa) at the end of cooking to make it even more thick and hearty.
- Add a teaspoon of ground turmeric or curry powder.
I like to serve this Red Lentil Soup with my vegan feta cheese (the unbaked version) sprinkled all over. Its creamy, melty saltiness works well with the lemon and lentils. Vegan parmesan cheese works well too, and who could say no to some vegan croutons?
With all of those lentils and the potatoes, this is a seriously hearty soup, but it's also great ladled over some fluffy rice, and if you're anything like me and always need bread on the side of soup, then these are great options:
Allow the soup to cool completely then store in the fridge for 5 days or the freezer for up to 3 months. Reheat in a pan on the stovetop or in a microwave. It does thicken a lot as it cools, so add additional stock or a bit of water as needed.
Red lentils cook and break down very quickly so there is no need to soak them before using. Because they break down so quickly and easily they aren't a great choice for recipes where you need the lentils to retain their shape, but they are perfect for making soups, dhals, and stews.
Yes. I recommend sautéing as per the recipe for the very best flavor. Then put everything in the slow cooker (except the lemon and greens) and cook on high for 3 hours or low for 5 to 6 hours. Once everything is tender, add the greens and allow them to wilt down. Turn off the heat. Add the lemon juice and serve.
More Lentil Recipes
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Red Lentil Soup with LemonAuthor:
- 1 tablespoon olive oil , (use a few drops of water to sauté instead for oil-free)
- 1 large onion , diced
- 3 sticks celery , diced
- 2 large carrots , diced
- 5 cloves garlic , chopped finely
- 3 to 4 potatoes , diced
- 1½ cups (300 grams) dried split red lentils , sometimes labelled Masoor Dal
- 1 tablespoon dried mixed herbs blend , such as Herbes de Provence or Italian seasoning
- 2 teaspoons salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 to 7 cups (1440 - 1680 mls) stock
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 3 fresh lemons
- 4 to 5 big handfuls chopped kale , or other greens of choice
- Warm a large soup pan or Dutch Oven over a medium heat and add the olive oil.
- Sauté the onion, celery and carrots together until turning golden. Don't rush them. It will take about 10 minutes.
- Add the garlic, potatoes, lentils, herbs, salt, and pepper and continue to cook for a few minutes.
- Add 6 cups of the stock and the sugar and stir well. Bring to a simmer and cook uncovered until the potatoes are fork tender and the lentils have more or less broken down. It should take about 20 minutes. Check the thickness. If you prefer it thinner add the rest of the stock. (Remember that lemon juice goes in at the end and will thin it a little more).
- Add the greens, stir and allow to cook in the simmering soup for 5 minutes, unless you are using spinach, in which case it will be cooked more or less immediately once it's been stirred in.
- Turn off the heat. squeeze in the juice of the lemons, stir well. Taste to check seasoning and add more as necessary. Check the thickness again. Add some hot water from a kettle if you want to thin it down, then serve immediately.