Get ready to enjoy a Moroccan-style red lentil soup recipe that's ready in just 30 minutes! This comforting soup has a lemony zing and rich flavor thanks to a unique combination of spices.
If you love flavorful soups as much as we do, don't miss out on this delicious Moroccan-style lentil soup recipe! Just like our Turkish red lentil soup and turmeric ginger red lentil soup, this recipe is easy to follow, calls for only a few ingredients and is so comforting.
Table Of Contents:
All about lentils
Lentils are a staple of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean cuisines and are used in salads, soups and rice dishes such as mujadara, adas polo, and even our recipe for vegan lentil balls. There are different varieties of lentils including green, brown and red; each has a different texture and consistency.
Like other legumes, lentils are packed with nutrients including iron and vitamin B. They are also heart-healthy and a good source of plant-based protein and fiber, which supports the digestive system.
How to cook lentils
It's very easy to cook lentils, all you need to do is place them in a pot with water, bring to a simmer, cover and cook until tender. The ratios of water to lentils and the cooking time would vary for different types of lentils.
For red lentils, which is the main ingredient in today's recipe, you usually need 3 cups of water for 1 cup of dry lentils. It usually takes 25 minutes for red lentils to cook.
Why this recipe works
- One pot: You can make this easy red lentil soup in one pot, which means cleaning will be a breeze!
- Bright flavors: Do you think lentils are bland? Not this recipe! Thanks to spices and lemon, this soup is super tasty.
- Quick: Ready in 30 minutes, this lentil soup is perfect for a quick weeknight dinner.
Ingredients and substitutions
- Olive oil: I use extra virgin olive oil to make this recipe because of its benefits and depth of flavor.
- Onion, garlic, celery and carrots: These vegetables make the base of the soup and are going to be sauteed in the olive oil to release their aroma and flavor.
- Red lentils: There is no need to soak red lentils prior to cooking since they cook very fast. They expand when cooked, so make sure the pot is large enough.
- Spices: I use ras el hanout for this recipe, which is a combination of several spices. You can also use Lebanese seven spice or Persian advieh as well.
- Tomatoes: I prefer canned diced tomatoes for this recipe, but fresh tomatoes would do as well.
- Lemon: I love using preserved lemons for extra flavor which would minimize the use of salt as well. If preserved lemons are not available, use fresh lemon juice.
The keys to a great red lentil soup
- Choose the right pot: Red lentils double and even triple in size when they cook, therefore it's best to use a pot large enough to keep them from boiling over.
- Stir: Make sure to stir the soup a few times while it's cooking so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the pot.
- Season well: A delicious soup is a well-seasoned one. Be sure to add enough spices to the soup and always taste before serving: a pinch of salt or a squeeze of lemon can take a soup to the next level.
How to make red lentil soup
- In a large pot sauté the onion in olive oil until translucent. Add in the garlic, celery and carrots. Cook for a few minutes until they're a bit tender.
- Add in the red lentils and ras el hanout and give it a good stir.
- Stir in the tomatoes and chopped preserved lemons. Add the water and bring it to a simmer. Cover and cook for 20 to 25 minutes until the lentils are fully cooked.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. If using a regular blender, make sure it's heat proof. Serve this red lentil soup with olive oil and red pepper flakes if desired.
Looking for ways to elevate this humble red lentil soup recipe? Here are a few suggestions:
- Make it spicy: Add some cayenne pepper to the lentils, it's best to start with ¼ teaspoon and add more if needed.
- Use broth: Instead of water, use beef, chicken or vegetable broth for more flavor.
This red lentil soup is a tasty light dinner on its own and would go perfect with some barbari or Turkish pide bread on the side. You could also serve this soup with Mediterranean salad, Greek salad or couscous salad.
Storage and freezing
Red lentil soup keeps very well in the fridge, so you can always make a large batch and enjoy it through the week. Store the leftovers in an airtight glass container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. To reheat, transfer the soup to a saucepan and place over medium heat. Stir occasionally for the soup to reheat evenly.
To freeze red lentil soup, place it in a freezer-safe container and freeze for up to 6 months. To serve, thaw the soup in the fridge overnight and then reheat in a saucepan over medium heat.
Frequently asked questions
Red lentils cook in about 15 to 20 minutes, so there's no need to soak them.
It takes about 30 minutes to make this soup on the stove top, but if you'd like to use the instant pot, sauté the vegetables as instructed until they're tender. Then add the red lentils, spices, tomatoes and preserved lemon. Add the water and seal the lid. Pressure cook on high for 10 minutes and let the pressure release naturally.
It takes 15 to 20 minutes for red lentils to cook completely. Make sure the pot is large enough so the lentils don't boil over since they double in size.
More lentil soup recipes
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Moroccan Style Red Lentil Soup
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Saute the onion until translucent. Add the garlic, celery and carrot. Cook for 2 minutes until partially tender.
- Stir in the red lentils and ras el hanout. Add in the diced tomatoes.
- Rinse the preserved lemon, remove and discard the pulp. Finely chop the peel and add it to the lentils.
- Add 5 cups of of water to the pot and turn the heat to medium high. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium, cover and cook for 20 minutes until the lentils are tender.
- Using an immersion blender, blend the soup until creamy. Taste and add more salt if needed. Serve with olive oil and red pepper flakes.
- You can make your own ras el hanout or purchase it at Mediterranean or Middle Eastern shops.
- You can use beef, chicken or vegetable stock instead of water.
- If preserved lemons are not available, use 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and adjust the salt to your liking.
- Store the leftovers in an airtight container and refrigerate for up to 5 days. Reheat in a pot over medium heat.