Red Lentil Soup

I’ve never been a big fan of lentil soup. I kind of can’t deal with those big brown lentils. It’s the texture. But then a couple months ago I saw this recipe in the New York Times. It reminded me of the delicious lentil soup at the Middle Eastern restaurant around the corner from my old apartment down in Park Slope. It was made with red lentils and lots of caramelized onions and I ate it a lot. I eat red lentils and rice all the time (from the recipe on the goya bag) but I never really thought to make them into soup. Red lentils are tiny so they cook really fast and they pretty much just dissolve. They make for a much lighter tasting soup than brown lentils.

After all that cheese and butter I’ve been eating lately I was feeling a little sluggish, and with all the rain we had on Saturday it was a perfect day to make a big healthy pot of soup. Here’s my recipe, loosely based on the one in the Times.


  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 medium to large yellow onions
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 15oz can of diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 1/3 cup quinoa
  • salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and coriander to taste
  • juice of 1 lemon


Thinly slice the onions and mince the garlic. Heat the olive oil in a large pot and add the onions and garlic. Add a little salt and cook over medium low heat, stirring frequently to make sure the ones on the bottom don’t burn. Cook the onions until they start to caramelize, about 20 minutes or so. Meanwhile finely dice the carrots. Once the onions are soft and starting to turn a nice golden brown color, toss in the carrots. Cook a few more minutes, until the onions are really nice and brown.

Add the can of tomatoes, including the juice. Add a few grinds of pepper, a little more salt, and a couple shakes each of cayenne and coriander. Turn the heat back up to about medium high and add the chicken stock and water. Pick through the lentils for pebbles and whatnot and give them a good rinsing. Add the lentils and the quinoa and simmer until the lentils and quinoa are tender, about 20 to 30 minutes.

Puree about half of the soup so it’s thicker but still a little chunky. I found that the onions and tomatoes tend to float, so if you use an immersion blender and try to keep it just below the surface, you can break up most of the big onion and tomato chunks without totally pureeing the whole thing.

Stir in the lemon juice and season to taste.



10 thoughts on “Red Lentil Soup

  1. fcassis

    I love this soup! I am half Egyptian and we used to eat that a lot at home ….thank you for reminding me a good recipe to do again here with my family.

  2. christa

    I’m planning a soup-making marathon for this weekend and this one sounds fantastic. i was contemplating lentil soup, but i’m tired of brown lentils. perfect solution.

  3. fcassis

    did you ever heard about the KOSHARI RICE?
    It´s typical egyptian: brown lentils+ rice+brown fried sliced oignons
    you eat in Eastern period.
    bye bye ,i ´m in a rush 🙂

  4. Toronto Chicken

    We made this today and it was absolutely delicious! We have soup every week and this has moved right to the top of our favourite list. I poached an egg right in the soup for each serving. That, combined with the lentils and quinoa makes for a nice protein-rich meal. And the colour is beautiful.
    Thank you for sharing this recipe.


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