How To Make Greek Red Lentil Soup
This creamy red lentil soup, prepared Greek-style, will surprise your taste buds in the best way possible! Red lentils, combined with onions, garlic, and sweet carrots in a tomato-based broth. Infused with cumin, oregano, and rosemary. Finished with a bright splash of lemon juice and fresh parsley. Keep it vegan, or add a sprinkle of salty feta, if you like.
One of the main foods we eat regularly when following the Mediterranean diet are legumes, including lentils.
Lentils are easy to use and are a great way to get a wide range of nutrients, from B vitamins, to iron, fiber and more. And because they are made of up over 25% protein, lentils are an excellent meat alternative.
And if you ever thought lentils were boring, this tasty red lentil soup with lemon, cumin, fresh herbs, and a dash of chili flakes is anything but bland. It hits the perfect balance of warm, tangy, and just a bit spicy (although, you can totally leave the chili flakes out if they’re not your thing.)
Best part, this easy red lentil soup takes one pot and comes together in less than 30 minutes!
Let’s dive into more about red lentils, and how to make this tasty soup while achieving the ultimate creamy consistency…
How to cook red lentils?
I used all-natural red lentils that you can find here at our online shop. Generally, to cook red lentils you’ll use 1:3 ratio lentils to liquid, meaning 1 cup of dry lentils to 3 cups water or broth. You do not need to soak red lentils for any amount of time, because they’re split they are fast-cooking and require just a few simple steps. Here is what you do:
- Rinse red lentils off in the water in a fine-mesh strainer or colander.
- Add the lentils to a pot with water or broth. Make sure your pot is large enough, so it does not boil over.
- Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer. This will be on low heat.
- Cook for 15 minutes or until tender.
Using water to cook the lentils is totally fine and works well. Water is particularly good when you want the flavor of the lentil neutral or the natural flavor to shine through But you can also use the cooking opportunity to infuse lots of flavors right into the lentils. You can do this by cooking them in a flavorful broth! You can use beef, chicken, veggie, or even bone broth for the liquid instead of water.
And, of course, we’re going the extra mile today and doing our red lentils up in a Greek-style red lentil soup!
This lentil soup is pretty straightforward to put together, and it doesn’t require big “chefy” skills. But a few small tips for you:
- Make sure the lentils are fully cooked before blending. Again, red lentils do cook quickly (15 to 20 minutes tops), so allow them the time they deserve, otherwise, if you have under-cooked your lentils, they won’t blend properly and the soup may be more gritty than creamy.
- Use an immersion blender to create a creamy lentil soup. I’m all for a chunky lentil soup, but this one is extra special when blended into a smooth, creamy soup. I like to use an immersion blender right in my pot (but do this carefully on lower speed, and make sure the heat is off.) I find that transferring soup into a stand-up blender can be super tricky, but if that’s all you have, you can totally use your blender and work in batches so you don’t overfill it with hot soup (a food processor would work as well.)
- Don’t skip the lemon juice! All the flavor makers in this recipe are important, but I know some may be tempted to skip that last squeeze of lemon juice before serving. It’s amazing what a little bit of acid, added at the end of cooking, can do to brighten up your lentil soup and bring about just the right balance.
- Extra virgin olive oil (I used Early Harvest)
- 1 large onion, chopped
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 carrots, chopped
- 3 tsp dry oregano
- 1 ½ tsp cumin
- 1 tsp rosemary
- ½ tsp red pepper flakes
- 2 dry bay leaves
- 1 cup crushed tomatoes (from a can)
- 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
- Kosher salt
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Juice of 2 lemons
- Fresh parsley for garnish
- Crumbled feta cheese to serve, optional
- Heat 3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook 3 to 4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add spices and bay leaves. Cook for a few seconds till fragrant, keep stirring so spices don’t burn.
- Add crushed tomatoes, broth, lentils. Season with kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are fully cooked.
- Remove from heat. If you have the time, let soup cool a bit before using an immersion blender to puree. Pulse a few times till you reach the creamy consistency you are looking for.
- Return soup to heat, and stir to warm through. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and fresh parsley.
- Transfer soup to serving bowls and top with extra virgin olive oil. If you like, top each bowl with a generous sprinkle of feta cheese. Serve with your favorite crusty bread!