Spicy and full of goodness, this delicious Middle Eastern lentil soup will transport you to exotic places. It’s thick, filling, and full of flavor, yet simple and easy to prepare.
Every time I cook this lentil soup, Jordan and the Middle East come to mind. This recipe is inspired by a soup we had during our trip to Petra, where we spent a wonderful evening at Petra Kitchen.
Cooking this lentil soup is so quick and easy (it’s ready in less than 30 minutes) that it has become one of my favorite evening meals, especially during the fall and winter months when we really need something to warm us up!
This lentil soup is packed full of goodness, is very filling, and the scent of spices is so inspiring!
All you need to make a bowl of red lentil soup are 10 simple, easy-to-find ingredients!
- Red split lentils: These quick-cooking lentils are low in calories and high in nutrition. Lentils are a great source of protein and their nutty, hearty flavors make them perfect for soups. Unlike other lentils, red lentils don’t stay intact when cooked which gives the soup a perfect creamy texture.
- Onion: A great starter for soups to add flavor.
- Extra virgin olive oil: One of my favorite healthy oils for cooking.
- Ground cumin: Its earthy, spicy flavor, brings depth to the soup. I know it’s a bit more hassle, but grind your cumin at home as you will get a much more intense flavor out of the seeds, and believe me, it’s worth it!
- Turmeric: Turmeric gives the soup that extra color. It has a mild flavor, slightly bitter and peppery, and it’s full of superpowers. With its incredible antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, it helps the liver, lowers cholesterol, and aids digestion.
- Ground black pepper and salt: Black pepper, with its antioxidant and antibacterial effects, gives the soup a bit of heat and the salt brings all those flavors together.
- Parsley: Just a touch for a little brightness and color to the top of the soup.
- Lemon wedges: Once the soup is ready and plated, add the juice of a lemon wedge. The acidity of the lemon with the nuttiness of the lentils creates a seriously delicious and earthy flavor.
How to Make
This soup cooks up in a few easy steps and only requires a few minutes of hands
- Rinse and drain: The lentils to get started.
- Cook the onions: Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the finely chopped onion and cook until it starts to soften.
- Add the spices: Add the cumin and turmeric to the pot.
- Heat the spices: Slightly to release their flavors while stirring into the onions.
- Add the drained lentils: To the pot and stir for one minute.
- Pour the water: Into the pot and season with salt and pepper.
- Boil and cook: Bring the ingredients to a boil and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Add more water if needed, to thin the soup.
- Sprinkle: The soup with finely chopped parsley and serve with a lemon wedge.
- Squeeze: In the lemon just before eating. I promise you won’t be sorry about this step!
How to Store
Middle Eastern Lentil Soup is great for meal prep because it stores and reheats so easily.
Fridge: You can store Middle Eastern Lentil Soup in the fridge for up to five days.
Freezer: When stored properly, you can also store the soup in the freezer for up to three months. Once the soup is fully cooled, transfer it to an airtight container or mason jar for storage.
When you’re ready to serve, reheat in the microwave or on the stovetop in a saucepan over medium-low heat, mixing well, until warmed through.
Fresh lemons: The squeeze of lemon at the end really gives the soup that special touch. Fresh is so much better than bottled!
Red lentils: This soup is definitely best when made with red lentils. These break apart when cooking and give the soup a naturally creamy texture.
Blend the soup? There’s no need to blend this soup as it cooks up creamy with just a tad of texture all on its own.
Heat the spices: Adding the spices to the onions and cooking them briefly helps to revive the dried spices intensifying their flavor.
Variations and Substitutions
Don’t have red lentils? You can also use yellow split lentils as well since they cook up with a similar texture, but green or brown lentils will not work in the same way.
Like fresh turmeric? If you prefer cooking with fresh turmeric, you can replace the ground with two tablespoons of finely grated fresh turmeric.
Toppings: I often keep things simple with just a squeeze of lemon juice and fresh parsley over the top but you can also add tri-colored sesame seeds, chopped nuts, or a sprinkle of microgreens.
Want the soup heartier? If you are looking for a heartier meal, you can serve this soup up with some cooked quinoa, brown rice, or another healthy grain.
Why I Love This Recipe
- It cooks up in one pot, which means fewer dishes for me!
- This soup is a healthy addition to meals and satisfying enough to serve on its own.
- Made using simple, inexpensive, and easy-to-find ingredients.
- Red lentils cook quickly, so you can get dinner on the table in less than 30 minutes.
Other Soup Recipes You’ll Love
If you enjoy flavorful and delicious soups for meals, you definitely need to try these!
- Fresh Pea Soup
- Red Lentil Soup with Peas and Carrots
- Vegan Carrot Ginger Soup
- Pumpkin Soup With Mushrooms
- Quick Tuscan Farro Soup
If you try this Middle Eastern Lentil Soup recipe, please leave a comment and a rating and let me know how much you liked it.
Middle Eastern Lentil Soup
- 2 cups red split lentils
- 1 onion - diced
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 6 cups water
- 3 teaspoon ground cumin
- 2 teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
- pinch parsley - finely chopped
- 4 lemon wedges - see note 1
- 1 teaspoon salt - more to taste, if desired
- Rinse the lentils and drain.
- In a large pot, heat the olive oil and add the finely chopped onion and cook until it starts to soften.
- Add the spices to the onions and stir, heating slightly to release the flavors.
- Add the drained lentils to the pot and stir for one minute. Then, add the water, salt, and pepper.
- Bring the ingredients to a boil and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Add more water if needed, to thin the soup
- Sprinkle the soup with finely chopped parsley and serve with a lemon wedge.
- Squeeze in the lemon just before eating.
Did you make this recipe? Tag @gatheringdreams on Instagram. I want to see it!
This is the soup I have been looking for for so long. I buy it at a local Middle Eastern shop/restaurant, and now I can make it at home. I made it for supper tonight, and am SO grateful. It is perfect. Yum!
Sara @ Gathering Dreams says
Soo happy you like it, Kyrras 🙂
Best match to the soup we love at our favorite Lebanese restaurant. Keeper for sure.
Sara @ Gathering Dreams says
So glad you loved it!
Oh my goodness, this is so AMAZING. I followed the recipe exactly, and it tastes just like the lentil soup at the Mediterranean cafe in my home town. My new go to, I can’t explain how happy I was when I tasted this.
Sara @ Gathering Dreams says
Thanks so much, Alyssa! It’s my favorite soup too!