Red Lentil Soup

What to serve with lentil soup?

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Lentil soup is a highly nutritious soupserved as an appetiser before a full course meal. It can also be served as a light meal, with salads. My mother always served it with chapatti, rice or sweet potatoes, as a complete meal and it was very filling, especially when served with sweet potatoes. She would boil whole green lentils and then mash them. She would then sauté onions and garlic with sunflower oil in a pan, add curry powder, tomatoes and cilantro (coriander), and then add the mashed lentils and some coconut milk to make a thick soup.

Lentil soup is good source of protein. It can be made from black, brown, green, yellow or red varieties. It’s best to use the dried, split lentils, which take 15-30 minutes to cook, depending on the variety and are readily available in all stores but the canned ones can also be used. You can be soak them before cooking or just cook them directly.

Simple lentil soup is made with onions, tomatoes, some spices, salt, pepper and vegetable, chicken or beef stock. To enhance flavour, other vegetables like carrots, potatoes, celery, spinach or mustard green and herbs like parsley, thyme, fresh mint or cilantro can be added. Acidic ingredients like vinegar, fresh lemon or orange juice, red or white wine vinegar, tamarind pulp, yoghurt and sour cream can also be added in small quantities or an alcoholic beverage like dry sherry,

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Lentil soup is healthy choice for vegetarians but chunks of beef or chickensmoked fish or other meats like ham, bacon, pancetta and sausage can be added to it.  It’s a matter of personal choice. If you prefer a spicy or curried lentil soup you can add spices like cloves, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds, peppercorn, turmeric powder, asafoetida (asafetida), mustard seeds, cayenne pepper, green chillies and curry leaves. If you are not fussy about calories, you can also add cream or coconut milk. The soup is best served hot.

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What to serve with lentil soup is a matter of personal choice. I served mine with Chapati. You can serve it with salad and cornbread as a complete meal; with cheese bread, garlic bread or toast; with chicken or beef flauta; with taquito or quesadilla; with chapatti, puri or naan bread; or even rice or quinoa. To garnish, use chopped fresh cilantro, Parsley or chives; cheese, lemon slices, plain yoghurt or cream. I hope you enjoy the lentil soup!

In this recipe, I used split red lentils which cook in 12-15 minutes without pre-soaking.

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Please always remember to assemble all ingredients before you start

Heat butter or margarine in a pan. Saute garlic and onions for 2-3 minutes

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Add the celery, carrots and capsicum, if using and let sweat for 5-7 minutes.

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Stir in coriander, cumin, tomato paste, lemon rind stir for 30 seconds.

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Add lentil and stir thoroughly to combine

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Add the stock, season with salt and pepper, bring to the boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes or until tender. Mine cooked in 12 minutes.

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You can either serve the soup without blending

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Or blend the soup to a smooth consistency. It’s entirely up to you.

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Serve hot with accompaniment of your choice

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I served mine with Chapati

Red Lentil Soup

Preparation time: 15 minutes; Cooking time: 15-20 minutes; serves: 4-6


  • 30g (2 tablespoons) butter or margarine or two tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 3 clove garlics, pressed in a garlic press
  • 40g (¼ cup) finely chopped celery
  • 40g (¼ cup) finely chopped carrots
  • 1 small red bell pepper (capsicum) finely chopped (optional)
  • I teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste, blended with 2 tablespoons water 
  • Grated rind (zest) of 1 lemon or lime (I used lime rind)
  • 250g (1⅓ cups) split red lentils, picked and washed thoroughly (they cook in 12-15 minutes)
  • 1000ml (4 cups) vegetable or chicken stock (broth)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper


  1. Heat butter, margarine or oil in a pan and sauté the onions and garlic for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Add the celery, carrots and capsicum, if using and let sweat for 5-7 minutes.
  3. Stir in coriander, cumin, tomato paste, lemon rind stir for 30 seconds. Add lentils, stir to thoroughly combine.
  4. Add 4 cups stock, season with salt and pepper, or your favourite seasoning and bring to the boil. Simmer for 15-20 minutes or until the vegetables are tender.
  5. Serve the soup or using a blender, puree to your desired consistency, check seasoning and serve immediately.

Points to note:

  • The split red lentils I used cooked in 12 minutes. If you use green or brown they will need longer cooking time (30-40 minutes) depending on variety.
  • If you want a thicker soup, use 1000ml stock (four cups) or 900 ml for an even thicker soup.
  • If you like it hot add some cayenne pepper, tabasco sauce or finely chopped chillies.
  • If you prefer coconut milk, substitute a third or half of the stock with coconut milk.
  • If you want to contribute a recipe through this website, please contact me on (myfavouritepastime(at)yahoo(dot)com)
  • Last updated May 03 2018

Author: Liz

I love everything food: eating, cooking, baking and travelling. I also love photography and nature.

16 thoughts

    1. Thank you. Lentil soup is one of my favourite soups and I love eating it with some naan or chapati. Thanks for visiting me. Have a lovely day!

    1. Thank you so much for adapting my soup and for mentioning me on your blog. I appreciate, am honoured too. I have bookmarked the green lentil soup. I shall give you a feedback.

  1. Hey! This looks really good – I am thinking of making a big batch and freezing it, sounds like it will freeze well, wish me luck!

    1. Talk about making batches, I have a big batch of yellow lentils that I boiled and froze in little packets (it takes a bit longer to cook than the red one) so whenever I feel like eating lentils, I just whip it out, thaw it and make the soup. I like adding coconut milk most of the time. Thanks for stopping by, I have tried to look for your blog but couldn’t find it. Will see If I can look one more time! Thank you for having a conversation with me and thanks for stopping by!

      1. Hi Liz,
        Thank you so much for stopping by my blog, Nana’s Tasty Traditions. It gave me a chance to discover yours. I am loving it so much. I just had to comment on your frozen lentils tip. I prep and freeze almost everything, but I never thought of freezing plain cooked lentils for future use. I freeze them in a cooked dishes like soup, stew etc…, but never have I thought of cooking them and freezing them plain! Thank you so much for this tip!

        1. I do that all the time especially with varieties that take 20-40 minutes to cook. I cook a big batch, separate it into smaller batches and freeze and when needed I just thaw and make my soup. It’s very convenient. I’m glad you find the comments here useful. That’s what blogging is all about. I have learnt a lot of things from others too. Thanks for being here and thanks for joining the conversation.

    1. “Dengu” is actually the Kiswahili name for Mung (Moong) Bean (Vigna radiata), commonly known as green gram. Dengu soup is usually thicker than this and takes longer to cook. Thanks for visiting my blog!!!

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