This nutritious and comforting vegan Red Lentil soup recipe is made with simple pantry ingredients but delivers a punch of flavor.
I had tasted Turkish lentil soup many years ago on my first visit to Istanbul and went from a soup hater to a soup lover. I realised that they always added a squeeze of lemon juice before eating and that makes such a difference to the flavor.
Read more: Culinary backstreets food tour of Istanbul
My first taste of Arabic lentil soup or Shorbat Adas, was on a business trip to Oman a few years ago. After a long day I was tired and hungry, but not inclined to go down to the hotel restaurant for dinner. I ended up ordering the simple red lentil soup and piping hot kibbeh from the room service menu.
I subsequently tried making lentil soup using green lentils, but it looked more like dishwater and did not taste any better. Thankfully I found this recipe for Arabic lentil soup that looked very easy, on the Chef in Disguise website (along with many easy and authentic Middle Eastern recipes).
My version of easy red lentil soup recipe is nutritious has a creamy, rich flavor that is elevated with a sprinkling of parsley and grating of lemon zest, if you have it available. The lentils provide protein and fibre in a delicious and light meat free meal.
You may find that even the soup avoiders in your family will love this. I am not a fan of lentil recipes but this is by far one of the best lentil recipes I have come across. When we made it in Cape Town during Winter my family could not believe how easy it is to make and how quickly it was ready. The longest part of the recipe is the soaking time of the lentils!
This red lentil soup recipe was one of the first recipes on the blog in June 2015 but has now been updated with better photos. I have made this recipe often over the years and even Katriena is a fan.
How to make incredibly tasty Red Lentil Soup
- Soaking the lentils for at least two hours before cooking removes the anti-nutrients in the outer shell. It also cooks down well and gives a smoother finish to the end result.
- My first adaptation includes 1/2 cup of chopped celery and 1/2 cup of chopped carrots added when sautéing the onions.
- The second and my favorite version of red lentil soup included only grated carrots. For now I prefer the red lentil soup without the celery as I find the celery too overpowering a flavor. It may be that fasting makes my taste buds ultra sensitive because even the chili seems spicier than before.
- Adding flour or cornflour gives the lentil soup a creamy texture. Cooking out the flour with the onions ensures that the finished soup doesn’t leave a gritty mouth feel.
Red lentil soup makes a perfect first course and can be served with the following:
- Daltjies Spinach and Corn fritters
- Sweet corn and Polenta fritters
- Cape Malay pancakes with coconut
- Cardamom bollas with saffron syrup
- Creamy Mushroom Soup
A word of caution for readers suffering from compromised immune systems. Lentils, chickpeas, beans and other legumes may cause an inflammatory response so be careful with consumption if you have a compromised immune system.
Incredibly Easy Vegan Red Lentil soup
- 250 ml dried and split red lentils approximately 1 cup
- 60 ml olive oil divided, approximately ¼ cup
- 1 red onion finely chopped
- 1 carrot grated
- 15 ml flour approximately 1 tablespoon
- 500 ml vegetable stock approximately 2 cups
- 500 ml water approximately 2 cups
- 1 clove garlic sliced
- 1.25 ml chili flakes approximately ¼ teaspoon
- 2.5 ml Salt adjust to taste
- Black pepper
- 30 ml Parsley chopped
- 1/2 Lemon juice and rind, to taste
- Rinse the lentils twice then cover with cold water and soak for at least 2 hours. Rinse once more before use.
- Heat 30 ml of olive oil in a medium sized pot and sauté the onions until soft and translucent but not brown or scorched.
- Add the flour and cook for 1 minute before adding the drained lentils, grated carrot, garlic and chili flakes.
- Add the stock and water and bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 40 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
- Blend the soup until creamy and completely smooth. I used a stick blender.
- Add the remaining 30 ml oil and blend until incorporated.
- Adjust the thickness with more hot stock or water, if required.
- Check the seasoning and add salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Serve with a sprinkling of chopped parsley and lemon zest and a wedge lemon and crispy pita croutons.
Disclaimer: Nutritional information for the recipe is an approximation and varies according to the ingredients and products used.
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