This red lentil soup is a tasty, earthy, and wholesome dish that is naturally plant-based and ready in just 30 minutes.
It's excellent as an easy weeknight dinner, meal-prep-friendly, and delicious with a thick slice of toasted bread on the side.
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This red lentil soup recipe has it all! It's tasty, creamy, comforting, wholesome, and nutritious.
It's perfect for autumn or winter weeknight dinners as it's easy to make with a few pantry staples, and it only needs to simmer for about 20 minutes.
The red lentils cook fast and make the soup creamy. They are also very healthy; a superfood rich in dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, wholesome plant protein, B vitamins, iron, and more.
To make them taste delicious, we cook them in a flavor base of olive oil, garlic, onion, celery, and carrot.
We then season them with bay leaves, rosemary, and cumin to bring out their earthy flavor.
Finally, we add crushed tomatoes and vegetable broth and simmer them gently for about 20 minutes until the soup gets creamy and delicious.
Serve this red lentil soup with a thick slice of toasted crusty bread brushed with garlic and drizzled with extra virgin olive oil and a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh parsley to freshen things up. Or you can serve it on rice, like a curry.
We hope you love this naturally vegan and gluten-free recipe as much as we do.
Red lentils are perfect for this soup because they cook fast, are tasty, and get all creamy as they soften up.
You can substitute any other type of lentil, such as green, brown, and black lentils, for red ones; however, you'll have to extend the cooking time and add more vegetable broth.
You can also substitute canned chickpeas for red lentils.
Important: there are two types of red lentils; split red lentils (the bright-orange-colored ones you find in most western grocery stores) and whole red lentils (those are darker red and are whole, not split. They take a little longer to cook than red split lentils). We prefer to use split red lentils.
Tip: nowadays, you can find red lentils in most western grocery stores. Alternatively, you can find them in every Asian grocery store that carries Indian or South-East Asian products.
We gently fry chopped celery, onion, carrots, and garlic in extra virgin olive oil to make a tasty flavor base that makes this red lentil soup recipe stand out.
Starting with a flavor base is common practice in some of the best cuisines in the world, from Italian to Asian cooking traditions.
We use a sprig of fresh rosemary, a couple of bay leaves (optional), ground cumin or cumin seeds, and red pepper flakes (or cayenne pepper).
Other spices that go well with lentils are curry powder and turmeric, but if you are thinking of adding these, we'd recommend you follow our red lentil curry recipe instead.
Vegetable broth is the primary liquid we use to cook red lentils. You can use store-bought broth or make it yourself.
Using vegetable broth instead of chicken broth or beef broth is an easy way to reduce meat consumption without realizing it.
You can use canned crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, or tomato puree, and you can add a couple of tablespoons of tomato paste to make the soup richer, although that's not necessary.
You can substitute canned tomatoes for fresh ripe tomatoes.
We like to use fresh flat-leaf parsley (Italian parsley). You can substitute fresh cilantro for parsley.
A squeeze of lemon on top of the red lentil soup before serving adds a touch of acidity that will make the other flavors pop.
Salt and pepper
Use sea salt of kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper to season the soup.
Finely chop celery, onion, and carrots. You can do so with a chef's knife or a food processor.
In a large pot or dutch oven, warm up the olive oil, add the chopped veggies, and fry them on medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir often.
Add grated garlic, cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and bay leaves, and fry gently for another 2 minutes.
Rinse the red lentils under running water to wash away dust and impurities. Check for small stones hiding between the lentils.
Add the red lentils, canned tomatoes, and vegetable broth to the pot, then season with salt and black pepper.
Bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and you reach your desired consistency. Stir occasionally.
Note: you can make red lentil soup more or less liquid based on your preferences by adding more or less vegetable broth.
Tip: There is no need to blend the soup with an immersion blender to make it creamier because the red lentils are already soft and creamy.
Our favorite way of serving this soup is in bowls with thick slices of toasted or grilled crusty bread. Brush the toasted bread with garlic, drizzle it with good quality extra virgin olive oil and serve alongside the soup.
You can also add freshly squeezed lemon juice, chopped parsley, and freshly ground black pepper.
If you want to add a veggie-based side dish, then we can recommend our:
- Roasted eggplant: perfectly tender and with a brush of garlic marinade
- Side salad with fresh and crunchy greens and a simple dressing
- Green bean salad with crumbled feta and a creamy mustard dressing
- Roasted broccoli with a garlic and lemon marinade
Red lentils soup with leafy greens
Frozen or fresh spinach, chard, or kale are all great addition to our red lentil soup recipe. Add them 10 minutes into cooking the lentils.
Another earthy, easy, and delicious soup is our Italian-inspired chickpea soup. It's very similar to this red lentil soup recipe, and we make it with canned chickpeas so that you can enjoy it as a simple everyday dinner.
This one, too, is delicious and perfect for the whole family.
Check out our chickpea soup recipe.
Refrigerator: store red lentil soup leftovers in the fridge, in an airtight container, for up to 4 days. Reheat in the microwave or a saucepan with a dash of water.
Freezer: let the soup cool down completely at room temperature, then transfer it into a freezer-friendly container and freeze for up to 3 months—Thaw in the refrigerator or the microwave.
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More lentil recipes
Lentils are great for stews, salads, and all kinds of easy dinners! Take your pick from these reader-favorite recipes:
- Italian lentil soup with greens and collards
- Lentil bolognese with a rich and rustic flavor
- Creamy lentil curry: ready in about 30 minutes, the easiest curry recipe you'll find!
- Stuffed zucchini boats with lentils and tomato sauce
- Cauliflower lentil salad with a Mediterranean cumin dressing
- Tabbouleh with lentils and fresh greens
- Lentil pasta with ditalini pasta and fresh Italian herbs, a reader's favorite comfort dinner!
- 5-minute lentil hummus: a perfect dip and appetizer for autumn and winter
For many more dinner ideas, check out our mains category page.
Red Lentil Soup
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1 stalk celery
- 1 large carrot
- 1 medium onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- ½ teaspoon cumin ground or seeds
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 2 bay leaves optional
- ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1 can (15 oz) crushed tomatoes
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 heaping cup red lentils (dry, not cooked)
- 1 teaspoo salt
- 2 twists black pepper
SERVE IT WITH
- 4 wedges lemon to squeeze on top
- 1 tablespoon parsley chopped
- Finely chop celery, onion, and carrots. You can do so with a chef's knife or a food processor.In a large pot, warm up the olive oil, add the chopped veggies, and gently fry them on medium heat for 3 minutes. Stir often.
- Add grated garlic, cumin seeds, red pepper flakes, rosemary, and bay leaves, and fry gently for another 2 minutes.
- Add rinsed red lentils, canned tomatoes, and vegetable broth, then season with salt and black pepper.
- Bring to a boil on high heat, then lower the heat to medium and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the lentils are cooked and you reach your desired consistency. Stir occasionally.
- Our favorite way of serving this soup is in bowls with thick slices of toasted or grilled crusty bread. Brush the toasted bread with garlic, drizzle it with good quality extra virgin olive oil and serve alongside the soup.You can also add freshly squeezed lemon juice, chopped parsley, and freshly ground black pepper.
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