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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

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

Lentil Soup Ingredients

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.

Step by step photos for how to make lentil soup

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 a hand blender or traditional 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!

Red lentil soup in pot

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.

Lemony Red Lentil Soup in Bowls

More Lentil Soup Recipes:

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

Closeup of Lemony Lentil Soup in Bowl

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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.



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.

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