Red Lentil Soup

This image courtesy of Jim Scherer

Lately, Out favorite way to make warm, golden lentil soup flecked with red and green and wonderfully fragrant with cilantro and spices is this, a blending of the two recipes we’ve previously published. Red lentils don’t stay red when they are cooked; they turn a nice golden color, and in this soup we add turmeric to enhance that color. Ground cumin and coriander are both fresher and more aromatic and flavorful if you keep whole cumin and coriander seeds in your pantry and, when they are called for in a recipe, toast them in an unoiled skillet or on a tray in a toaster oven until headily fragrant.


This soup tends to get thicker as it sits-just add more water for the consistency you like and then adjust the lemon and salt to taste.


This soup is so delicious and satisfying that it can be the meal. Of course, it would be nice with a green salad or vegetable. Some bread might be welcome. Then some Creamy Vegan Rice Pudding for dessert ... ummm. This is also, a great starter for any North African or West African or Latin American or Indian dish.

9 cups

Cooking Time45 min

Cooking Time - Text45

Cooking Methodsauteeing



Total Timeunder 2 hours

Make Ahead RecipeYes

One Pot MealYes

OccasionCasual Dinner Party, Family Get-together

Recipe Coursemain course

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, halal, kosher, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free, vegan, vegetarian

Mealdinner, lunch

Type of Dishsoup


  • 1 1/2 cups dried red lentils
  • 5 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 slices peeled fresh ginger
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1/4 cups finely chopped onions
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 1/2 cups diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced potatoes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin seeds
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander seeds
  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup seeded and diced red bell peppers
  • 2 cups chopped fresh tomatoes, or one 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
  • Ground black pepper


  1. Rinse the red lentils in a sieve. Place them in a soup pot with the water, turmeric, bay leaves, garlic, ginger, and 1 teaspoon of the salt and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally as they come to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, until soft, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

  2. Meanwhile, warm the olive oil in a covered skillet or saucepan on medium-low heat. Add the onions and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Increase the heat, add the carrots, and cook for about 2 minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cumin, and coriander and cook, stirring constantly, for about 2 minutes. Stir in the water and bell peppers and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Add the tomatoes and simmer for another 5 to 10 minutes.

  3. Remove the bay leaves and ginger slices from the cooked lentils and discard them. Stir in the cooked vegetables. Stir in the lemon juice, cilantro, and the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. Season with black pepper to taste.


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