This Lebanese lemon lentil soup is a warming, hearty, yet fresh-tasting soup that is light and zesty, perfect for the Spring season. Flavored with earthy turmeric and fresh garlic, this vegetarian lemon lentil soup is nutritious and full of goodness.
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Classic Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
Lentil soup with lemon is a traditional dish favored in countries such as Lebanon and Syria. There are also similar dishes in reaches as far as Morocco, which locals call Harira.
Most of these dishes include lentils cooked with garlic and onion and earthy spices such as turmeric and cumin.
These soup dishes are incredibly versatile and can be served as part of a main course or on their own as a hearty lunch.
Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
Soup is one of my favorite things to make because it’s easy, healthy, and can be made using all kinds of ingredients. I also love that it can be made in large batches for lunches throughout the week and freezes well. I find it’s the perfect dish to make on cold winter afternoons. Plus, you can’t beat the smell of homemade soup around the house.
This Lebanese lentil lemon soup is not only great in the middle of winter, but all year round. Because of its light, zesty flavors and vibrancy, it works perfectly as a springtime lunch.
Regarding the lentils, it’s really down to preference which ones you use. This is because the soup is going to be blended to a smooth consistency, so any lentils will work. However, personally, I think red lentils work best for this recipe, mainly because they cook quickly and get to a softer consistency, meaning they don’t leave your soup with any grainy texture.
Lebanese Lemon Lentil Soup – Handy Tips
When I make this recipe, I opt for a dutch oven over a saucepan, just because I love the heavy-bottomed feel and always love the idea of a hot stew or soup simmering away in a big pot on the stove, but that’s just me.
Also, for this recipe, you will need some form of a blender. This can be a hand-held or an immersion; both will work fine. I usually use an immersion blender to make my soups because it means fewer pots and keeps everything in one place, because who doesn’t love a one-pot dish?
Lebanese Lentil Soup – Ingredients
Like many of my soup and stew recipes, the base for this lemon lentil soup consists of onion, garlic, and olive oil.
Although you will blend the ingredients for the end result, I still find it best to press your garlic and finely dice your onions. This will make the soup easier to blend and will also mean it cooks more quickly.
This Lebanese lentil soup includes some really earthy, deep spices, such as turmeric, cumin, and paprika. The paprika and turmeric give the dish a vibrant appearance. The color also compliments the lemony flavor perfectly and reminds you that you’re eating something nutritious.
Cumin gives an earthy, almost nutty flavor. We joke that it’s the secret ingredient in a lot of my recipes, including a lot of Moroccan and Spanish dishes. Check out some other recipe I’ve made with cumin including thus Creamy Vegan Moroccan Pumpkin Soup With Chickpeas or a Traditional Vegetarian Spanish White Beans Stew.
Aside from the spices, onions, and garlic, of course, you’ll be needing lentils. As I said before, I think red works perfectly for this dish, but others will work. Ensure you cook other lentils for longer so they soften and don’t leave your soup with a grainy texture. (Unless this is what you like, of course).
Combined with rice, the lentils will form the main body of your soup and give it its structure. White rice works best for this soup because it thickens it perfectly and blends well.
You can use any broth you like for this lentil lemon soup. I use vegetables, but chicken also works well if you’re not vegetarian, of course.
Lastly, the lemon is what makes this dish unique and gives it its fresh, zesty flavor. It also provides the soup with a bit of acidity, which breaks up the earthy, nutty flavors of the spices.
How To Make Lebanese Lemon Lentil Soup
One thing I love about making this soup is its lack of preparation. It takes only a couple of minutes to prepare your ingredients, such as dicing the onion and garlic and slicing your lemon. That’s it! You’re ready to cook.
In a medium-sized dutch oven, warm your oil over medium to high heat before adding in your onion and garlic. Cook this for around 5 minutes until they have started to soften and color slightly. They should be starting to turn golden but not browned.
Next, add in your spices and coat with olive oil. Mix all the ingredients well in the pan, and continue stirring until the aromas from the spices are released.
Add in the lentils, rice, salt, and pepper, and stir for around 3-5 minutes.
Add four cups of broth, and bring the pot to a boil before reducing it to a simmer. Leave this dish to cook, uncovered, for around 30 minutes until the lentils and rice are soft.
Keep an eye on the pan during these 30 minutes to ensure it’s not drying out. If you find the liquid is being soaked up too much, add in some warm water or more broth.
Once the lentils and rice are cooked, taste the mixture for seasoning and add more salt or pepper if required. Add in a dash of lemon juice to taste.
Handy Tip: Adding a bit of olive oil while blending will give your lentil soup a beautiful silky texture.
Blending The Soup
Remove your soup from the heat, and if you’re using an immersion blender, place it directly into the pan (make sure it’s deep enough, the head of the blender should be completely immersed) and blend your soup until smooth.
If your pan isn’t deep enough, or you don’t have a hand-held blender, then you can transfer the soup to a food processor and blend in batches.
After blending, your soup should be the consistency of a rustic pea soup, meaning that you will still be able to feel the texture of the lentils slightly but not have any whole lentils. However, if you prefer a chunkier or smoother soup, then you can blend more or less to suit your taste.
To finish your soup perfectly, garnish with a bit of fresh parsley and a wedge of lemon and serve with some warm, crusty, buttered bread.
Lebanese Lemon Lentil Soup Recipe
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 4 cloves of garlic, crushed or pressed
- 1 small onion, diced
- 1 tsp turmeric
- 2 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1 ½ cups red lentils
- ½ cup raw white rice
- 5 cups vegetable broth
- Salt and pepper
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Heat olive oil over medium heat in a dutch oven (or saucepan).
- Add garlic and onions and cook for around 5 minutes until softened.
- Add in the spices and stir well to coat with the oil.
- Add in rice, lentils, and season. Coat the lentils with the oil and spices, and sweat for 3-5 minutes.
- Add 4 cups of broth, and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the pan to a simmer, and leave to cook, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- After this time, check the texture of the lentils, and cook for a further 5 minutes if needed. They should be becoming soft but not mushy.
- If your dish is beginning to dry out, add more stock or water, and check again for seasoning.
- Add lemon juice and more salt and pepper if required.
- Remove from the heat, and blend to the desired consistency.
- Garnish with fresh parsley and lemon wedge, and serve with crusty, warm bread.
This recipe will serve four to five people as a main course, or six or seven people as a side dish.
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 245Total Fat: 5gSaturated Fat: 1gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 1093mgCarbohydrates: 42gFiber: 7gSugar: 4gProtein: 10g
This nutritional data is provided by a third-party source and should not be relied on if you are on a strict diet.