Lebanese Red Lentil Soup Recipe

This Lebanese Red Lentil soup is seasoned with cumin, turmeric, paprika and a touch of cayenne pepper … not too spicy but enough to add a little zip! A simple soup made in just over 30 minutes that is sure to become a weeknight favourite!

pic of two bowls of lentil soup surrounded with pita bread and decorated with chili flakes and dollops or yogurt.

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The flavor of this Lebanese Red Lentil Soup can’t be topped. Every sip will give you hints of cumin, turmeric, paprika – and a little bit of spice! Fill your bowl full, and get ready to want more. There is nothing going to warm your belly like the flavor of this vegan red lentil soup. 

Do you know how sometimes food recipes just fall into your lap? The inspiration for this Lebanese Lentil Soup was actually given to me by a woman that I was talking to at the pharmacy. (I may love the flavor of this soup – but the story of how it came to warm my heart just as much as the warmth of the yummy soup!) 

Since this simple Middle Eastern soup recipe takes just a tad bit over 30 minutes to make, it’s one that can easily be cooked up and served for a simple weeknight meal. 

This hearty soup provides a flavor that is unlike other soups and a texture that you’re going to crave. Get the biggest soup bowl you can find, and fill it up! 

When I think of this creamy lentil soup, I instantly think of a giant bowl of goodness on a cold and snowy day. This is the perfect time of year to make all your soup dreams come true! 

One of my other new favourite soups is this Tortilla Soup… chicken is optional!

Pic of a bowl of lentil soup with a piece of pita bread being dipped in it.

This soup is very very easy to make and is done in about 40 minutes. It is important to use red lentils for this soup because when simmered they break down much quicker than the green or yellow lentils. The texture of red lentils is sort of velvety. I added one medium potato and used a hand blender to make my Red Lentil Soup smooth.

If you like it to be a little more rustic simply omit the potato and the blender. Want a more brothy soup? Add more broth. This recipe is so accommodating it is very easy to make it whatever you like.

Ingredients And Substitutions

All you need are these lentil soup ingredients to get started! It couldn’t be easier! 

  • Olive oil – Grapeseed or avocado oil can also be used.  
  • Onion – I prefer to use yellow or white onions.
  • Garlic cloves – Because garlic is life.
  • Turmeric, cumin, paprika, and black pepper – The seasonings that add flavor to this spicy red lentil soup. Be careful not to get turmeric on your clothes or counters because this spice stains quickly.
  • Red lentils – Don’t use other types of lentils – stick with the red ones! 
  • Vegetable stock – Any type of stock will work. If you don’t want this dish to be vegan, bone broth could work as well. 
  • Potato – Be sure to peel and quarter. White potatoes or red potatoes would work. 
  • Cayenne pepper – This is optional but perfect for bringing the heat! 
  • Lemon juice – A squeeze on top just before serving brightens up the flavor.
Two green bowls of lentil soup on a black table with a beige napkin and pita bread

Can I use other lentils in this soup?

No, I don’t recommend it. Red lentils are softer than other types of lentils, which is perfect for making the texture of this soup. 

Red lentils are great because they cook faster and have a great flavor. Why work harder when you don’t have to? 

How to make Lebanese Lentil Soup

In a large saucepan or dutch oven, heat 2 tbsp of oil over medium heat, and add the onions. Sauteé until they begin to become transparent.

Add in the minced garlic, turmeric, and cumin, cooking for about 2 minutes longer. Make sure to stir often to keep the spices from sticking and burning.

Then add in 1 additional tbsp of olive oil and the lentils. Let them simmer for about 1-minute, stirring often.

Go ahead and add the vegetable stock to the saucepan along with one peeled medium potato that has been quartered. Add in paprika, black pepper, and cayenne pepper (optional) and stir.

Let simmer for about 30 minutes, stirring often. Add in lemon juice and let simmer for 2 minutes more.

Use an immersion blender to blend the soup and potatoes together to create a smooth consistency. If you don’t have a blender you can also carefully pour the hot soup into a blender and blend until smooth. This soup makes quite a bit so you may need to do this in batches.


Add more heat – If you like your soup spicy, add chili powder to the soup! 

Add toppings – Everyone knows that soup toppings are the best. Some simple soup toppings include fresh cilantro, chopped peanuts, diced onions, chives, croutons, or anything else that you like. 

A bowl of spicy red lentil soup with a spoon.

Split vs Whole Lentils

Do you know the difference between split lentils and whole lentils? It’s important to know that they’re not the same! 

Whole lentils are actually still in the husk, which means that they take a lot longer to cook. Split lentils are out of the husk, giving them a faster cooking time. Make sure that you use red split lentils because they do also sell whole red lentils as well. 

I love using red lentils that are split because it cuts the cooking time down in half. 

How to know when the lentils are done cooking?

There are a few ways to tell that lentils are done cooking. The first way is to take a spoon, scoop out some, and take a bite. They should be a little bit soft – but not mushy usually but for this soup since you will be blending until smooth you want them pretty soft.

You can also visually look at the lentils and see that the water is boiling and that the lentils are soft and almost mushy looking on the edges.

Two bowls of spicy red lentil soup on a table with chili flakes and lemons.

Why is my lentil soup gritty?  

If you fail to cook the lentils long enough to soften them enough, you’re going to have bits of lentils in the soup, giving your soup a gritty texture. Some people like their lentil soup recipe to be a little rougher or chunkier and that is fine but if you want a smooth soup the lentils need to be soft.

If you add a potato while cooking so it too is soft enough to be mashed and blending with an immersion blender helps give this soup a creamy texture.

This potato trick works wonders for other soups too!

Why is there a potato added to lentil soup? 

Adding the potato to the soup helps to make the texture smooth and creamy. The more potatoes that you add, the creamier it will get.  A great trick to use if you are trying to avoid adding dairy to a soup but want a creamy texture.

Leftovers and Storage 

This soup makes a hearty batch, so you’re more than likely going to have leftovers. If you do, just let the soup cool down and then store the leftovers in an airtight container. 

To reheat, you can pour it into a saucepan on the stove or add it to a microwave-safe bowl. 

Keep in mind that if it’s too thick when you reheat, you can always thin it out with a little more vegetable stock. 

A bowl of Lebanese lentil soup with a spoon and some sour cream.

What to serve with Red Lentil Soup

  • Warm pita bread or crusty bread
  • Baked pita bread pieces that have been tossed in olive oil, salt, pepper and oregano to make pita chips
  • A dollop of dairy-free yogurt or if you are not vegan greek yogurt or sour cream
  • Additional chilli flakes if you like your soup spicy
  • Garlic Toast
  • Side Salad

More soups to try

Easy Chicken Tortilla Soup 

Irish Leek and Potato Soup

Vegan Thai Pumpkin Soup 

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A bowl of middle eastern lentil soup with a dollop of sour cream and chili flakes.

Vegan Red Lentil Soup

Alisa Infanti | The Delicious Spoon
This Lebanese Style Red Lentil soup is seasoned with cumin, turmeric, paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper. A simple soup made in just over 30 minutes!
4.87 from 22 votes
Prep Time 3 minutes
Cook Time 37 minutes
Total Time 40 minutes
Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine gluten free, Middle Eastern, vegan, Vegetarian
Servings 6 servings
Calories 290 kcal


  • Large saucepan
  • Chopping Knife
  • Wooden Spoon
  • Measuring Cups
  • Measuring Spoons
  • Soup Ladle


  • 3 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves minced
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 ½ cups red lentils
  • 8 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 medium potato peeled and quartered
  • 1 tsp paprika
  • ½ tsp black pepper
  • tsp cayenne pepper optional or more to taste
  • ½ lemon juiced


  • Heat 2 tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the chopped onions and garlic and sautee until the onions become transparent. Add 1 tsp turmeric and 1 1/2 tsp cumin and continue to mix and cook for another 2 minutes.
  • Add 1 additional tsp of olive oil and 1 1/2 cups of red lentils. Sautee for another minute stirring frequently so that lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Add 8 cups of vegetable stock, 1 medium potato peeled and cubed, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp black pepper and 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper (optional) and stir well. Let simmer for 30 minutes on medium-high heat stirring occasionally to ensure lentils do not settle and stick to the bottom.
  • Add in the juice of half a lemon and let simmer for another 2 minutes. Remove from heat and serve immediately. For a smoother soup texture remove from heat and carefully use a hand mixer/blender to blend the soup to a smooth texture. Serve immediately.


Serving: 14ozCalories: 290kcalCarbohydrates: 44gProtein: 12.7gFat: 8gSaturated Fat: 1.2gPolyunsaturated Fat: 1.3gMonounsaturated Fat: 5.3gTrans Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1261mgPotassium: 538mgFiber: 6.7gSugar: 3.9gVitamin A: 907IUVitamin C: 11.1mgCalcium: 41mgIron: 4.7mg


Vegetable broth can be swapped out for chicken broth for non-vegan or vegetarian diets.
This soup can be stored in the fridge in a sealed container for up to 5 days.  Freeze in individual portins for up to two months.
Please Note:

The information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s advice.

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Pinterest pin of lentil soup in green bowls with pita bread.

For the step-by-step version of this recipe, check out the How to Make Lebanese Style Red Lentil Soup.

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  1. 5 stars
    Just made this substituting two cups of frozen cubed sweet potato for the regular potato and it was delicious! Perfect blend of spices!

  2. 5 stars
    I made this soup this evening. I used a medium sweet potato, (next time I will use a large sweet potato) it was delicious! I’m not a great cook but this recipe was easy and simple to follow. I will make it again!

  3. 5 stars
    Made as is and it was delicious. Do you know how to adjust the timing if I were to try and make it in an insta pot? Seems like it should be easy enough to do.

    1. Hi Selkie, Sorry but I don’t have an instapot to say and really don’t know anything about them.

    2. 5 stars
      I made it this evening in my instant pot. I used 6 cups of broth and set it for 15 min on high. Delicious!

  4. 5 stars
    This soup is perfect for a chilly, rainy day. I usually follow recipes as-is when I make them the first time but I only had 1 cup of lentils. I kept the ratios mostly the same otherwise, but also added extra garlic, a carrot, 1/2 tsp celery seed powder and a few small bay leaves. Once cooked, I blended it until smooth. Highly recommend! Although if you decide to blend it, be careful to let it cool before blending in small batches or use an immersion blender if you have one (I ended up getting hot soup everywhere and slightly burned myself 🙁 rookie mistake, I know). It would definitely be good with a side salad and bread for a more complete meal as the recipe states but I thought it was hearty enough on its own!

    1. Thanks for sharing this Alexandra. It is great that you could make this soup your own!

  5. 5 stars
    I’ve tried this a few times Alisa, not realizing it was your recipe on your own site!!! It’s excellent and reminds me of a soup I would buy for lunch from a food court I used to go to, the only thing I would ever eat from Jackson Square!

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