Bringing you major warm, cozy and comforting vibes with a tasty red lentil soup! This recipe is so easy to make and it’s loaded with nourishing vegetables, warm spices and red lentils, all simmered in a savory veggie broth. An easy one pot dinner option that the whole family will love!

red lentil soup served with crusty bread

Perfect dinner soup!  Everything about this was delicious!

— Kylie

It’s that time of year, friends. It’s comfort food season! For me, there is just about nothing more comforting than a bowl of hot soup to warm the body and soul. My family loves when they smell a big pot of my red lentil soup cooking away on the stove. This flavorful soup is the perfect meal for a chilly day! It’s thick, creamy and so satisfying.

When the weather starts to cool off, soup is one of our favorite family dinners! Whether it’s a slow cooker chicken tortilla soup or a hearty vegetable beef soup, soup is always a hit in my house. This lentil soup is full of flavor, color and texture and is a total crowd pleaser.

Why you should make this recipe

  • It’s healthy. Lentils are a great vegan or vegetarian option because they are full of plant-based protein and fiber. Plus this soup is full of vitamin B, iron, folate, and other nutrients. This recipe is also naturally gluten-free and dairy-free.
  • It’s budget-friendly. Lentils and all of the other ingredients in this recipe are very affordable, which makes this a great meatless dinner to serve the family.
  • Delicious and flavorful. It has the most wonderful taste! The flavors in this lentil soup come from the earthy turmeric and warm cumin, cinnamon and cardamom. Add some fresh lime juice to pull it all together. So delicious!

Ingredients needed

If you’ve never tried or cooked with lentils, it’s time to change that with a delicious and very easy red lentil soup. Not only do red lentils make this soup thick and creamy, but they also give it a super nutritious boost! Each serving contains a good amount of protein, fiber, and minerals. Here’s everything you need to make this soup recipe:

  • Red lentils. Red lentils cook quickly and get somewhat mushy, which is perfect to make a thick and creamy soup.
  • Onion & garlic. Major flavor enhancers!
  • Spices. You’ll need turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, salt and pepper. This blend of spices adds the perfect warm and cozy flavor. Feel free to add a dash of cayenne pepper, if you like spicy.
  • Canned tomatoes. Diced tomatoes add liquid and great flavor to the soup. Feel free to sub diced tomatoes with crushed tomatoes, if you prefer.
  • Vegetable broth. It’s important to use a high quality vegetable broth because it’s the base for this soup. Use low-sodium broth to control the saltiness of the dish.
  • Coconut milk. This adds a slight sweetness that complements the warm spices perfectly. You can use light coconut milk, but we prefer full fat because it gives the soup such a lovely creaminess. If you’re not a fan of coconut milk, simply sub with another cup of vegetable broth.
  • Spinach. Extra veggie goodness!
  • Lime juice. Don’t forget this last step! Just a splash of lime juice really makes the flavor of this soup pop. If lemon juice is what you have available, a squeeze of lemon juice will totally work too.

How to make this recipe

This soup is as easy as 1, 2, 3 and it takes under 30 minutes to cook! Here’s the simple process:

For the full, printable recipe, see the recipe card.

  1. Sauté. Cook the onion and garlic in a little bit of olive or avocado oil in a large soup pot. While the onion is getting nice and soft, you can be measuring out the seasonings and prepping the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Seasonings. Once the veggies have sautéed a bit, stir in the seasonings.
  3. Simmer. Add in the tomatoes, coconut milk, broth and lentils. Bring the soup to a boil, then simmer, until everything is cooked through — about 20 minutes.
  4. Finishing. Once the lentils are tender, it’s time to add in the spinach. You can turn off the heat and let the spinach gently wilt into the soup.
  5. Serve. Just before serving, stir in a bit of lime juice. Garnish with fresh parsley or fresh cilantro, a dollop of yogurt or sour cream and slices of lime or anything else you desire. Serve with a crusty hunk of bread and enjoy!

Make it in an instant pot

  • First, place the instant pot into sauté mode. Heat the oil.
  • Then, add the onion and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Stir frequently until onions have softened. 
  • Next, add the remaining ingredients in the pot except for the spinach, parsley and lime.
  • Place the lid over the pot. Press the pressure cook button, place it on high, and let it cook for 15 minutes. When it’s done, quick release, open the lid, and stir in spinach, lime juice and parsley. 

Expert tips

Here are some helpful substitutions, shortcuts and tips to make sure this cooks up perfect every time!

  • Sort the lentils. Before cooking, quickly sift through the lentils to remove any small debris or pebbles. Wash/rinse the lentils thoroughly.
  • Change up the texture. To make the soup creamier with less texture, transfer about 1/4 to 1/2 of cooked soup to a blender. Blend until smooth and then stir back into the soup. Alternatively, you can use an immersion blender to do this.
  • Add more veggies. Feel free to add more vegetables to this soup. Carrot, cauliflower, celery, corn and/or mushrooms would all be great added to the soup. You could also save time by using pre-cut frozen veggies or those available in the produce department.
  • Don’t skip the lime juice! All the flavor makers in this recipe are important, but I know some may be tempted to skip that last squeeze of lime 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.

Frequently asked questions

Is red lentil soup good for you?

Yes! Lentils are a highly nutritious food. They are rich in minerals, protein, and fiber while also being low in calories. Plus, the soup is filled with lots of other wholesome ingredients.

Which color lentil is best for soup?

We recommend red or yellow lentils for this recipe. Both red and yellow lentils cook up quicker than other lentil varieties and have a similar texture. Red and yellow lentils also break down during the cooking process, which is actually what we want for this particular lentil soup recipe. If you only have brown or green lentils available, they can be substituted for the red lentils. Simply extend the cook time by about 10 to 15 minutes. It’s also important to note that the soup won’t have a creamy texture. The soup will still be delicious though!

Do you have to soak lentils before making soup?

Since red lentils cook up so quickly, it’s not necessary to soak them. You’ll just want to rinse them off.

ladle serving Red Lentil Soup

Serving suggestions

This red lentil soup recipe is delicious on its own, but we love to pair it with a little side dish to make it a filling meal. Here are some ideas:

  • Salad. A light, fresh green salad pairs so nicely with this flavorful soup.
  • Grilled cheese. This is my favorite way to eat this soup! My kids and I love dipping a classic grilled cheese sandwich into this soup. So good!
  • Bread. Crusty bread, pita or naan bread is an easy, yet satisfying counterpart to this meal.
  • Add protein. To make this even more protein-packed, stir in shredded rotisserie chicken or other cooked chicken. However, this is plenty satisfying on its own.

Make ahead + storage recommendations

  • Make ahead. You can save time by chopping the onion and garlic and measuring out the spices up to 1 day in advance. Store onion and garlic in the refrigerator.
  • Leftovers. Store leftovers in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat. Warm up on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add additional broth as needed to thin the soup. You can also rewarm this in the microwave.
  • Freeze. Once completely cooled, place in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
red lentil soup with crusty bread

If you try this recipe, let me know! Leave a comment and if your family loves it as much as mine does, be sure to give it a five star ⭐️ rating! Also, tag @kimscravings on Instagram with a picture of your creation. It’s so fun to see what you’re cooking! Be sure to subscribe to our mailing list to receive more healthy delicious recipes straight to your inbox.

red lentil soup served with crusty bread
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Red Lentil Soup

Bringing you major warm, cozy and comforting vibes with a tasty red lentil soup! This lentil soup is so easy to make and it's loaded with nourishing vegetables, warm spices and red lentils, all simmered in a savory veggie broth. An easy one pot dinner option that the whole family will love!
Author: Kim

Ingredients

  • 1 to 2 tablespoons avocado or olive oil
  • 1 large diced onion
  • 2 cloves garlic , minced
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (15 oz.) can diced tomatoes with juices
  • 4 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 can full-fat coconut milk
  • 3/4 cup uncooked red lentils
  • 1 (5 oz.) package baby spinach
  • juice from one lime
  • optional for garnish: wedge of lime, fresh parsley or cilantro, a dollop of yogurt, crumbled feta cheese or other preferred cheese

Instructions 

  • In a large pot over medium-high heat, add the oil, then onion and cook, stirring often until onion is soft and translucent.
  • Add the garlic and cook, stirring for another minute until fragrant.
  • Add the salt, turmeric, cumin, cinnamon, cardamom, and pepper; stir with the onion and garlic until well combined. Cook for one minute.
  • Add the tomatoes, broth, coconut milk, and lentils. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer uncovered about 20 minutes or until lentils are soft.
  • When lentils are soft, turn off the heat and add the spinach; let it gently wilt into the soup.
  • Serve immediately and garnish with a generous squeeze of fresh lime juice and any other preferred garnish.

Notes

  • Store. Store leftovers in an airtight storage container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  • Reheat. Rewarm leftover soup in a large pot on the stovetop over medium-low heat. Add more broth as needed to thin the soup. You can also reheat this soup in the microwave.
  • Freeze. Place leftover soup in an airtight freezer-safe storage container for up to 3 months. Let thaw overnight in the refrigerator before reheating.
Make it in an instant pot
  • First, place the instant pot into sauté mode. Heat the oil.
  • Then, add the onion and garlic; cook for 2 minutes. Stir frequently until onions have softened. 
  • Next, add the remaining ingredients in the pot except for the spinach, parsley and lime.
  • Place the lid over the pot. Press the pressure cook button, place it on high, and let it cook for 15 minutes. When it’s done, quick release, open the lid, and stir in spinach, lime juice and parsley. 
Serving: 1large serving, Calories: 371kcal, Carbohydrates: 30g, Protein: 11g, Fat: 25g, Saturated Fat: 19g, Sodium: 1249mg, Potassium: 611mg, Fiber: 11g, Sugar: 4g, Vitamin A: 537IU, Vitamin C: 5mg, Calcium: 52mg, Iron: 7mg

Did you make this recipe?

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