Moroccan lentil soup is the perfect recipe to discover the aromatic flavors and heartwarming essence of Moroccan cuisine.
Earthy lentils are simmered in a flavorful broth with tomato and spices like cumin, paprika, turmeric, and a hint of cinnamon, creating a perfect balance of warmth and depth.
You’ll love this recipe because it’s easy to make, in one pot, and with pantry staples. Its comforting texture and heartwarming flavors will fill you with the wanderlust to try more Moroccan dishes.
Table of Contents
Dietary Note: this recipe is suitable for a vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free diet.
What is Moroccan lentil soup?
Moroccan lentil soup is a tasty, nourishing, and satisfying recipe you can serve as a main course with pita bread or Couscous, topped with quick pickled red onions and a dollop of yogurt tahini sauce.
Its texture and consistency are rustic, thick, and creamy, almost like a lentil stew or chickpea stew.
Spices and traditions brought over from traders and invaders were adopted by the local Berber population and harmoniously combined to create a perfect tapestry of flavors.
For example, while the simplicity of this recipe reminds us of a Mediterranean lentil soup, its use of turmeric and coriander reaches the borders of India with its aromatic curries – red lentil curry being one of the most popular.
Arab and Persian customs of mixing sweet and savory ingredients are evident through the use of cinnamon and lemon juice. And paprika, brought over from the Spanish (think of our Romesco sauce), is a recurring spice in Moroccan recipes.
Try this Moroccan lentil soup on top of our Moroccan Couscous with dried fruits, spices, and nuts to really understand the full flavor palette of Moroccan cooking.
Also, having a diverse geography, fertile soil, and a Mediterranean climate, Moroccan cuisine is heavy on vegetables. So feel free to add potatoes, eggplant, sweet potatoes, and leafy greens like spinach and kale to this Moroccan lentil soup.
Ingredients & Substitutions for Moroccan Lentil soup
Quantities are in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Extra virgin olive oil
Extra virgin olive oil is a staple in Mediterranean cooking. It’s heart-healthy, packed with polyphenols, and adds a pleasant fruity flavor.
Substitute regular olive oil, avocado oil, or another vegetable oil for extra virgin olive oil.
Onion adds sweetness. You can use white, red, or yellow onion. Substitute a shallot for onion.
Carrots also add sweetness when gently cooked in olive oil.
Celery is to balance the sweetness of carrots and onions. It adds freshness and crunch.
Use fresh and avoid garlic powder if you can. You can press it, mince it, or grate it.
Tomato paste enriches this Moroccan lentil soup with umami. We recommend it, but it’s not a deal breaker if you omit it.
Some common spices used often in Moroccan lentil soups are:
- Ground cumin
- Ground coriander
- Turmeric powder
- Harissa, red pepper flakes, or cayenne pepper.
In Moroccan cuisine, those spices are sometimes replaced by one spice to rule them all, called Ras El Hanout.
Ras El Hanout is a traditional spice mix that sometimes includes more than 40 different spices.
It’s a staple in Moroccan cooking. However, it can be hard to find outside of Morocco. That’s why we decided to recreate authentic Moroccan flavors using more common spices that you can find at your local supermarket.
We recommend using brown lentils, green lentils, or black lentils because they keep their shape better than red lentils.
You can use dried or canned lentils. We use, and recommend using dried green lentils.
We find that they taste better, you can control the amount of sodium you use, and, at least for us, they are much easier to digest than canned lentils.
If you use dried lentils, rinse them to remove dirt and small debris before adding them to the pot. They take 30 to 45 minutes to cook and don’t need to be soaked beforehand.
If you use canned lentils, drain them and rinse them well. They are pre-cooked and take about 15 minutes of simmering to get flavorful.
We recommend a low-sodium vegetable broth.
Substitute water for vegetable broth; in this case, add a bit more salt.
Canned tomatoes, such as crushed or diced tomatoes, are best. Tomato puree or passata is also a good option.
Alternatively, you can use whole canned peeled tomatoes, but you must crush them with a fork before adding them to the soup.
If in season, you can also use ripe vine tomatoes.
Flat-leaf parsley and cilantro or fresh coriander are often used in Moroccan lentil soup. Pick your favorite.
Salt & Black Pepper
We recommend sea salt or kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
A squeeze of fresh lemon juice is essential to balance out the warmth of the spices. Louise loves this so much she adds as much as half a lemon squeezed on top.
Honestly, don’t forget the lemon. It’s an essential ingredient.
Substitute fresh lime juice for lemon.
Serves well with
- Moroccan Couscous: pile the Couscous on a plate, pushing down the center with a spoon to make a well, and top with the soup.
- Pita bread: or some other type of Arabic bread like Kobhz.
- Quick pickled red onions: to add freshness, crunch, and tanginess.
- Yogurt: we recommend plain Greek-style yogurt or non-dairy yogurt. Excellent is also our Yogurt Tahini Sauce.
How to make Moroccan Lentil Soup
US cups + grams measurements in the recipe box at the bottom of the page.
Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add chopped onion, celery, and carrot, and cook for 4 minutes or until translucent.
Stir in pressed garlic, tomato paste, red pepper flakes, cumin, turmeric, coriander, and paprika, and cook for a minute or until you can smell their fragrant aroma.
Rinse the dried green lentils and stir them to coat them with the spice mixture.
Pour the vegetable broth and canned tomatoes, and season with salt and black pepper.
Stir well, cover with a lid, and bring to a gentle boil.
Reduce the heat to low, crack the top open, and let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.
Stir occasionally and add more vegetable broth as the soup thickens.
Once the lentils are cooked, use an immersion blender to puree only some of them – about a cup. You can blend more or less, depending on your preference.
You can also use a standing blender, but be cautious with the hot liquid if you do so.
Now stir in the cinnamon, then taste and adjust for salt.
Also, adjust the consistency of the Moroccan lentil soup to your liking by adding more broth or water.
Serve the Moroccan lentil soup hot. You can have it as a starter or main dish.
Don’t forget to add a generous squeeze of fresh lemon juice and garnish with chopped cilantro or parsley.
Top it with a thick Greek-style yogurt or non-dairy yogurt and quick pickled red onions for extra flavor. We also like to add a pinch of sumac (a red citrusy spice) on top.
Add more vegetables
You can customize this Moroccan Lentil Soup by adding more vegetables.
We think you’ll love it with:
Potatoes: Peel them, cut them into bite-size pieces, and add them 15 minutes after you add the lentils. Potatoes take about 30 minutes to soften.
Leafy greens: try chopped kale, spinach, and chard. They take about 15 minutes to cook.
Sweet potatoes: peel them and chop them into bite-size pieces. They take about 20 minutes to soften.
Red bell pepper: chop it into bite-size pieces and add it to the lentils.
Moroccan red lentil soup
You can substitute red lentils for green or brown lentils and make a creamy and comforting red lentil soup. Cooking time will be around 20 to 30 minutes. The other ingredients stay the same.
In this case, the soup will be more puree-like because the red lentils will lose their shape as they cook. It’s more similar to an Indian Dal or a Turkish Red Lentil Soup Recipe.
It’s still delicious but substantially different.
Consistency: Lents soak up a lot of liquid, so you’ll probably have to adjust and add more vegetable broth to reach your desired consistency.
The more the lentils cook, the more liquid you must add.
Storage & Make Ahead
Make ahead: Moroccan lentil soup is an excellent recipe to make ahead and use for meal prep for the week. The soup keeps well for days; the day after it’s made, it will taste even better.
Refrigerator: Let the soup cool down at room temperature, transfer it into an airtight container, and keep it in the fridge for 4 – 5 days.
Freezer: You can freeze this recipe for up to 3 months. To do so, let it cool down first, then transfer it to a freezer-friendly container and freeze it.
Thaw & Reheat: Defrost it in the fridge over several hours. Warm in the microwave or a saucepan on the stovetop. You might need to add more broth or water as you do so because the lentils will soak up some of the liquid.
More lentil soup recipes
- Lentil vegetable soup
- Curry lentil soup
- Italian lentil soup
- Red lentil soup
- Creamy lentil curry (technically not a soup, but it’s so creamy and delicious).
More Moroccan-inspired recipes
Get more inspiration from these easy meals inspired by Moroccan recipes:
For more curries, stews, and soups, check out our soups category page.
Moroccan Lentil Soup
- Immersion blender or standing blender optional
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large onion chopped
- 2 carrots chopped
- 1 rib celery chopped
- 2 cloves garlic pressed
- 2 tablespoons tomato paste
- ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
- ½ teaspoon paprika
- 1 heaping cup dried green lentils or 2 small cans rinsed (15 ounces/400 grams). In this case simmer for just 15 minutes and add only 2 cups of vegetable broth.
- 6 cups vegetable broth add more if required
- 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon salt or more to taste
- ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 lemon
- 1 handful parsley or cilantro, chopped
- Heat 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add 1 large onion, 2 carrots, and 1 rib celery (all chopped), and cook for 4 minutes or until translucent.
- Stir in 2 cloves garlic (pressed), 2 tablespoons tomato paste, ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground coriander, ½ teaspoon ground turmeric, and ½ teaspoon paprika.Cook for 1 minute until fragrant.
- Rinse 1 heaping cup dried green lentils and stir them in the spice mixture.
- Pour in 6 cups vegetable broth, 1 can (15 ounces) crushed tomatoes, and season with 1 teaspoon salt and ⅛ teaspoon black pepper. Stir well, cover with a lid, and bring to a gentle boil.
- Reduce the heat to low, crack the top open, and let it simmer for 30 to 45 minutes or until the lentils are tender.Stir occasionally and add more vegetable broth if necessary.
- Once the lentils are cooked, use an immersion blender to puree only some of them – about a cup. You can blend more or less, depending on your preference.You can also use a standing blender, but be cautious with the hot liquid if you do so.
- Now stir in ¼ teaspoon cinnamon, then taste and adjust for salt.
- Serve in bowls with a generous squeeze of lemon, chopped parsley or cilantro.Make it a meal with pickled red onions and a dollop of Greek-style yogurt on top, and pita bread on the side.
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