This Lebanese lentil soup is the kind of soup you could eat 3-4 days in a row without complaining – an easy recipe for a rich, nourishing, healthy, and flavorful one-pot meal.
A spicy and delicious Lebanese lentil soup made with cupboard ingredients and ready in about 30 minutes. Make a big pot and keep reheating it; it will get better every day.
Why is this one of my favorite lentil soup recipes?
- I use spices in very liberal quantities whenever I cook this dish. We’re not talking about a pinch or ½ teaspoon of cumin and coriander, but of 2 teaspoons of each.
- I’ve learned this way of cooking Middle Eastern recipes from a Syrian friend. The first time I saw her cooking, I was shocked to see her add one handful of ground coriander and one whole bulb of grated garlic to a dish. But the food was beyond amazing!!!
- The pulses are incredibly nutritious; they are a great source of plant protein, they are full of fiber, iron, and folate.
- A great recipe for the whole family; my kids love it just as much as we do.
- And if you like soups with pulses, you should also try this delicious Panera Black Bean Soup.
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What do you need?
You will only need a handful of ingredients, basic ingredients that you probably have in your cupboard all the time. That’s what makes this hearty Lebanese red lentil soup so perfect for weeknight dinners when you just don’t have the time and energy to go shopping anymore.
Cupboard ingredients: red lentils, onions, garlic cloves, extra virgin olive oil, canned tomatoes, vinegar, vegetable or chicken stock. Chicken bouillon or vegetable broth cubes are fine. I prefer to use low sodium and adjust the taste with salt the way I like it.
Whole or split red lentils?
- You can use either whole or split lentils. Just keep in mind that whole ones need a longer cooking time, while the split ones are cooked after about 15 minutes. When cooked with split lentils the dish will be thicker, as they will disintegrate slightly. However, both versions are equally delicious.
Can I use another kind of lentils?
- Theoretically, you can, although this recipe is typically made with red ones. Other types of lentils, like green, brown or yellow lentils make a great soup as well. However, I don’t recommend black pulses; they keep their shape a little too well and don’t soften like the other sorts; they are better suited to make salads.
Can I use canned pulses?
You can, but I don’t recommend it. Dried ones only need about 10 minutes longer to cook, they are much cheaper and taste so much better.
The only fresh ingredients: heavy cream and parsley. You will only need 2-3 tablespoons of cream; it mellows the dish nicely. However, it’s not mandatory to use it. If you don’t have it, just leave it out.
Spices: ground cumin, ground coriander, red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper, salt, and black pepper. A bit of turmeric is also great.
As you can see, on top of being super delicious, filling, and healthy, this Lebanese Lentil Soup is also super cheap.
Can I make the soup vegetarian or vegan?
- Of course.
- Use vegetable stock instead of chicken.
- Leave out the cream or replace it with soy cream or another plant-based substitute.
How to make Lebanese lentil soup?
- Use a large, heavy-bottomed pot; my standard pot is a Dutch oven.
- Chop onions and garlic but keep them separated. You will have to start cooking the onion first and only add the garlic later.
- Heat oil and cook the onions for a couple of minutes. (1)
- Stir the garlic for another minute, add the spices and stir a little more. (2)
- Add the canned tomatoes and the stock and bring to a boil. (3)
- Wash the pulses thoroughly in a sieve. Add them to the soup, bring to a boil again. (4)
- Turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 until the lentils are soft. You will have to check; whole lentils need about 25-30 minutes of cooking time, while the split ones are already done after about 15 minutes. (5)
- Stir in the heavy cream and the vinegar. Add some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the taste accordingly. (6)
- Adjust the amount of stock to suit your taste. For example, if you like a thicker dish, use only 3-4 cups of stock; you can always add an extra cup at the end to thin as desired.
- As mentioned above, using split pulses makes for a thicker, creamier soup. Whole ones need a longer cooking time (about 25-30 minutes as instructed in the recipe), and they will not disintegrate so much in the soup. I used whole lentils when I took the pictures, but I often cook this recipe with split ones.
- The lentils break down and thicken the dish naturally, but blend with an immersion blender if you want an even smoother, thicker texture.
- Add some other vegetables. I love adding potatoes or sweet potatoes together with the pulses and a good handful of spinach or chopped kale leaves towards the end of the cooking process, as they will only have to wilt in the hot liquid.
How to serve?
Serve the Middle Eastern lentil soup immediately or reheated. I honestly think it tastes better after each reheating, that’s why I always make a big pot, and we eat the food for about three days in a row.
The dish is very filling; it makes a complete meal on its own. We only need a piece of bread with it: either regular bread, pita bread, crusty baguettes, sourdough, or flatbread.
Reheat and freeze
- Keep: in the fridge, covered, for 4-5 days.
- Reheat: on the stovetop, covered, stirring occasionally. You can also reheat it in the microwave for a few minutes and maybe stir halfway through.
- Freeze: This simple soup freezes very well. Let come at room temperature, place in an airtight container, freeze for up to 6 months, and defrost in the fridge or on the counter. Add a little water, if necessary, when reheating.
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More vegetarian meals:
- Simple Fried Gnocchi
- Easy Halloumi Fajitas
- Mascarpone Pasta
- Cucumber Cream Cheese Wraps
- Creamy Tahini Pasta
Easy Lebanese Lentil Soup
- 2 small onions about 5.5 oz/ 150 g
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 garlic cloves
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 teaspoons ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes more to taste
- 1 can chopped tomatoes
- 4-5 cups chicken stock Note
- 1 ¼ cups red lentils
- 2-3 tablespoons heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon cider vinegar more to taste
- 3 tablespoons parsley chopped
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt or Kosher more to taste
- 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
- Chop the onions and the garlic finely, keep them separated.
- Saute: Heat the oil in a large heavy-bottomed pot. Cook the onions for 2 minutes. Add the finely chopped garlic and stir for 1 minute. Add the spices and stir for 1 minute.
- Simmer: Add chopped tomatoes and chicken stock and bring to a boil. Add washed lentils, bring to a boil again, turn the heat down to medium-low and simmer for 20-30 until the lentils are soft. Split lentils will cook sooner, so check.
- Adjust: Pour in the heavy cream and the vinegar. Add some salt and pepper. Taste and adjust the taste accordingly.