This Red Lentil Soup is packed with vegetables and fresh herbs! Healthy, cheap, and nutritious, this soup has tons of flavor from spices like cumin, garlic, and chili powder, with natural sweetness from sweet potatoes and carrots. The broth is INCREDIBLE, especially after stirring in some fresh lemon juice and herbs at the end! It’s a fast, easy, one-pot, high-protein plant-based meal, and it just so happens to be vegan and gluten-free, if that’s your thing.
Red lentils are a miracle of the dried legume family. Why? They only take 20 minutes to fully cook, with NO SOAKING NEEDED! But they’re just as cheap and nutritious – high in protein, fiber, vitamins, and minerals – as any of their more needy cousins.
Buy any other dried legume and you’re looking at hours of soaking and a lengthy cooking time. Which is easy if you plan ahead, or use a slow cooker or pressure cooker, but if you want dinner in a half hour? Reach for those red lentils, friend.
Now this soup is not your average lentil soup. This is PACKED with flavor, inspired by Turkish red lentil soup (Mercimek Corbasi). Spices, garlic, fresh lemon juice, and a large dose of fresh herbs – almost any kind you want – abound in this soup. And it’s packed with veggies.
I love serving it with a swirl of good extra-virgin olive oil and crushed red pepper flakes in each bowl. Now here is a true “Bowl of Delicious” if ever I saw one!
Ingredients in Red Lentil Soup
- Red Lentils
- Onion and Garlic
- Chili Powder
- Canned diced tomatoes
- Broth (chicken or vegetable, either will work)
- Sweet Potato
- Fresh lemon juice
- Fresh herbs (any combination of mint, chives, cilantro, parsley, dill, basil, oregano, etc.)
How to make Red Lentil Soup with Vegetables and Herbs
In a large pot, sautè the onion in olive oil, then add garlic, cumin, and chili powder. Add the broth, diced tomatoes, rinsed lentils, carrots, and sweet potatoes, and simmer covered for 20 minutes until everything is cooked. Turn off the heat and add herbs and fresh lemon juice and season to taste. Serve!
Please scroll to the bottom of the post for the full recipe including ingredient amounts and detailed instructions.
Wait… aren’t you not supposed to cook tomatoes with dried legumes?
Well, yes. When dried legumes are cooked with something acidic, like tomatoes, they can turn out tough and not fully cook until soft. HOWEVER, red lentils are so fast cooking and tender, in the case of this red lentil soup, it’s fine, and allows the flavors to develop more. So rid yourself of this expectation here, and add those tomatoes!
But CAN I soak red lentils if I want to?
I wouldn’t recommend it. I think they would turn out mushy if you tried soaking them before cooking them in this soup.
Can I freeze red lentil soup?
Absolutely! It freezes wonderfully in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
What can I serve red lentil soup with?
This red lentil soup is a balanced nutritious meal in a bowl, with protein, healthy carbs, and healthy fats. But it would also be delicious served with pita bread or a crusty no knead bread for dipping.
What fixings should I top red lentil soup with?
I love serving the red lentil soup with a swirl of good quality extra-virgin olive oil, some red pepper flakes (or Aleppo pepper flakes, which would harken back to its Turkish roots), and some more fresh herbs, as well as a squeeze of extra lemon juice. It would be great with a dollop of Greek yogurt or sour cream as well.
Other Mediterranean soup recipes
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Red Lentil Soup with Veggies and Herbs
- Large Pot or Dutch Oven
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion diced
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- 15 oz. canned diced tomatoes
- 6 cups chicken or vegetable broth (see notes)
- 1 large sweet potato peeled and diced (about ½-inch pieces)
- 2 large carrots peeled and diced (about ¼-inch pieces)
- 8 oz. red lentils sorted through and rinsed (about 1 heaping cup, see notes)
- kosher salt and black pepper to taste
- ¼ cup fresh herbs (dill, mint, oregano, parsley, chives, basil, and/or cilantro, see notes)
- juice of one lemon about 2 tablespoons
- more olive oil, Greek yogurt, red pepper flakes, lemon wedges, and/or extra herbs for topping (optional)
- Heat the olive oil (2 tablespoons) in a large heavy pot with a lid, such as a Dutch oven, over medium-high heat. Sauté the onions until softened and starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
- Add the minced garlic (2 cloves), cumin (1 teaspoon), and chili powder (½ teaspoon). Stir to coat the onions in the spices and continue heating for 30 seconds to one minute, until fragrant.
- Add the rinsed red lentils (8 oz.). Stir to coat. Pour in the chicken broth (6 cups) and add the diced sweet potato, the diced carrots, and the canned diced tomatoes (15 oz.). Bring to a boil, turn the heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes, or until lentils, sweet potatoes, and carrots are tender.
- Turn off the heat. Stir in the lemon juice (about 2 tablespoons) and fresh chopped herbs (¼ cup). Serve, with optional extra olive oil, herbs, Greek yogurt, red pepper flakes, and/or lemon wedges.
- Broth: I almost always prefer to use homemade broth (chicken or vegetable) for soups, which is what I used here. You can also use a bouillon substitute, like Better than Bouillon. Be careful, as store-bought broth and bouillon tend to be salty, so you may need very little, if any, additional salt for the soup, or buy a low-sodium version. Be sure to use vegetable broth to ensure the soup is vegetarian/vegan, if that’s your goal.
- Red lentils usually come in a 16 oz. (1 pound) bag. This recipe uses half that amount, 8 oz., which comes out to a little more than 1 cup. You can use more or less than that depending on what you have, but keep in mind you may need more or less broth accordingly.
- Fresh herbs: I use a combo of dill, mint, parsley, and oregano, because it’s what I had. You can truly use what you want here, what you have growing, or what’s on sale at the store. Just stay away from tougher and stronger herbs, like rosemary, thyme, and sage, as their flavors and textures may overpower in this recipe.
- Don’t skip the fresh lemon juice here – that added acidity adds a ton of flavor (though you may be able to get by with a tablespoon of red wine or apple cider vinegar in a pinch).
- Adding a swirl of extra-virgin olive oil at the end when serving is highly recommended. It adds satiating healthy fat, amazing flavor, and a beautiful rich texture. I also recommend a dash of red pepper flakes if you enjoy spice, which takes the flavor of the soup to the next level without overpowering.
- Freeze the leftovers in an airtight container for up to 6 months.
Nutrition Information Disclaimer
The provided nutrition information is my best estimate and does not include any added sodium from seasoning to taste, any optional ingredients, and it does not take brands into account. I use an automatic API to calculate this information. Feel free to calculate it yourself using one of these tools: