This creamy red lentil soup, prepared Greek-style, will surprise your taste buds in the best way possible! Red lentils, combined with onions, garlic, and sweet carrots in a tomato-based broth. Infused with cumin, oregano, and rosemary. Finished with a bright splash of lemon juice and fresh parsley. Keep it vegan, or add a sprinkle of salty feta, if you like.

Watch the video for how to make red lentil soup and read through for important tips below!Greek red lentil soup served in a bowl with a sprinkle of feta cheese on top. Crusty bread to the side

Lentils: a Mediterranean diet staple

One of the main foods we eat regularly when following the Mediterranean diet are legumes, including lentils.

Lentils are easy to use and are a great way to get a wide range of nutrients, from B vitamins, to iron, fiber and more. And because they are made of up over 25% protein, lentils are an excellent meat alternative.

I love that lentils are fast-cooking and can be used in many ways--salads, soups, and even vegan sauces (black lentils make a great substitute for meat in my vegetarian moussaka!)

A couple of fan favorites here on the blog are Turkish lentil soup, chunky vegetable lentil soup and this spicy spinach and lentil soup made with black lentils.

Today, I'm leaning into sweet, fast-cooking red lentils. Because of their creamy consistency, I think red lentils shine best in a hearty soup like today's Greek red lentil soup.

And if you ever thought lentils were boring, this tasty red lentil soup with lemon, cumin, fresh herbs, and a dash of chili flakes is anything but bland. It hits the perfect balance of warm, tangy, and just a bit spicy (although, you can totally leave the chili flakes out if they're not your thing.) 

Best part, this easy red lentil soup takes one pot and comes together in less than 30 minutes! 

Let’s dive into more about red lentils, and how to make this tasty soup while achieving the ultimate creamy consistency...

Greek red lentil soup in pot garnished with parsley

What are red split lentils and what do they taste like? 

Red lentils have a lot going for them in my book.

Like other lentils, red lentils are brimming with nutrition. They are packed with plant-based protein and fiber to help keep your belly full and satisfied for a long time. Not to mentioned they are packed with potassium, folate, iron, and magnesium.

What do they taste like? Red split lentils are nutty and sweet tasting, and they have a great creamy consistency that makes them perfect for hearty soups and stews.

Plus, they cook so fast, and you never have to soak them in advance. That's why, they make a perfect go-to on busy weeknights.

How to cook red lentils?

I used all-natural red lentils that you can find here at our online shop. Generally, to cook red lentils you'll use 1:3 ratio lentils to liquid, meaning 1 cup of dry lentils to 3 cups water or broth.  You do not need to soak red lentils for any amount of time, because they're split they are fast-cooking and require just a few simple steps. Here is what you do:

  • Rinse red lentils off in the water in a fine-mesh strainer or colander.
  • Add the lentils to a pot with water or broth. Make sure your pot is large enough, so it does not boil over.
  • Bring the pot to a boil, cover, and then reduce to a simmer. This will be on low heat.
  • Cook for 15 minutes or until tender.

Using water to cook the lentils is totally fine and works well. Water is particularly good when you want the flavor of the lentil neutral or the natural flavor to shine through.

But you can also use the cooking opportunity to infuse lots of flavors right into the lentils. You can do this by cooking them in a flavorful broth! You can use beef, chicken, veggie, or even bone broth for the liquid instead of water.

And, of course, we're going the extra mile today and doing our red lentils up in a Greek-style red lentil soup!

Ingredients for red lentil soup. red lentils, onions, garlic, carrots, parsley, spices, lemon etc.

Greek-style red lentil soup

This easy red lentil soup takes on a bold Greek twist! A creamy, extra smooth red lentil soup with a few ingredients that bring about the robust Greek flavors we love:

- Aromatics: garlic, onion, and sweet carrots are sauteed in quality extra virgin olive oil until tender and fragrant. This starts the flavoring process.

- Spices & herbs: a combination of dry oregano, warm cumin, piney rosemary, bay leaf and just a pinch of red chili pepper for subtle heat.

- Crushed tomato & broth:  crushed tomatoes here bring about vibrant color and flavor (lots of umami), while augmenting our lentil soup with a bit more of  hearty, yet saucy consistency. And I used a low-sodium vegan broth as the liquid base here (you can use chicken or even beef broth if you prefer.)

-Red lentils: the star ingredient here, obviously. I used 2 cups of split red lentils, which are plenty to feed a crowd! The lentils are thrown into the broth in the last 15 minutes to 20 minutes or so of cooking (remember, they don't take long to cook). And to achieve the perfect creamy consitency without adding a drop of cream, once the lentils are finished, give the soup a blitz or two using an immersion blender.

-Lemon and fresh parsley (to finish): this Greek red lentil soup would not be complete without the final addition of lemon, both zest and juice, plus a sprinkle of fresh parsley. This final layer bright flavors sorta wakes this soup up.

-Feta cheese (optional): you can totally keep this as a vegan red lentil soup, but if you want the added benefit of creamy, salty feta, sprinkle a little bit over your bowl of soup and enjoy. A pleasant surprise, trust me!

Red lentil soup finished with lemon zest and parsley

Important tips

This lentil soup is pretty straight forward to put together, and it doesn't require big "chefy" skills. But a few small tips for you:

1.  Make sure the lentils are fully cooked before blending.  Again, red lentils do cook quickly (15 to 20 minutes tops), so allow them the time they deserve, otherwise, if you have under-cooked your lentils, they won't blend properly and the soup may be more gritty than creamy.

2. Use an immersion blender to create a creamy lentil soup. I'm all for a chunky lentil soup, but this one is extra special when blended into a smooth, creamy soup. I like to use an immersion blender right in my pot (but do this carefully on lower speed, and make sure the heat is off.)  I find that transferring soup into a stand-up blender can be super tricky, but if that's all you have, you can totally use your blender and work in batches so you don't overfill it with hot soup (a food processor would work as well.)

3. Don't skip the lemon juice! All the flavor makers in this recipe are important, but I know some may be tempted to skip that last squeeze of lemon 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.

Can I make red lentil soup in the instant pot?

I almost always make this easy lentil soup on the stove because it cooks so fast and is finished in 30 minutes or less. But if you're a fan of the pressure cooker, you can totally use it here.

Just make sure to leave out the lemon, parsley, and feta till after the soup is done.  Here's how to make this vegan lentil soup in your Instant Pot:

1. Put your pot on the sauté function and add the onions, garlic, chopped carrots and extra virgin olive oil. Cook for 3-4 minutes while stirring.

2. Add in your spices and bay leaf and stir until they are fragrant. Stir a lot to make sure they don’t burn.

3. Add the tomatoes, broth, and lentils. Season with a pinch of salt. Give it a good stir. Lock the lid and set the pot to high pressure and cook for 10 minutes. Allow it to release naturally.

4. Blend the soup, return to the instant pot, and stir in the lemon juice, lemon zest, and parsley. Transfer to serving bowls and add crumbled feta, if you like.

One bowl of red lentil soup

Leftovers and reheating 

Store leftover lentil soup in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. When you are ready to heat the soup again, place in a pot and heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly. You may find it helpful to add a little more broth to help the consistency.

What to serve along?

My family enjoys this easy red lentil soup with our favorite crusty warm bread to sop up all the goodness. And it never hurts to start with a plate of simple Greek salad. 

You may also like these recipes:

Simple Italian Minestrone

Foul Mudammas: Egyptian Fava Beans

Greek braised eggplant and chickpeas

Greek chicken and potatoes

Watch the video for how to make this easy red lentil soup:

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Red lentil soup finished with lemon zest and parsley

Easy Greek Red Lentil Soup Recipe


Description

This creamy red lentil soup, prepared Greek-style, will surprise your taste buds in the best way possible! Red lentils, combined with onions, garlic, and sweet carrots in a tomato-based broth. Infused with cumin, oregano, and rosemary. Finished with a bright splash of lemon juice and fresh parsley. Keep it vegan, or add a sprinkle of salty feta, if you like.


Ingredients

Scale
  • Extra virgin olive oil (I used Early Harvest)
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 tsp dry oregano
  • 1 ½ tsp cumin
  • 1 tsp rosemary
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 2 dry bay leaves
  • 1 cup crushed tomatoes (from a can)
  • 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • Juice of 2 lemons
  • Fresh parsley for garnish
  • Crumbled feta cheese to serve, optional

Instructions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil until shimmering but not smoking. Add onions, carrots and garlic. Cook 3  to 4 minutes, stirring regularly. Add spices and bay leaves. Cook for a few seconds till fragrant, keep stirring so spices don't burn.
  2. Add crushed tomatoes, broth, lentils. Season with kosher salt. Bring to a boil, then lower heat to simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until lentils are fully cooked.
  3. Remove from heat. If you have the time, let soup cool a bit before using an immersion blender to puree. Pulse a few times till you reach the creamy consitency you are looking for.
  4. Return soup to heat, and stir to warm through. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, and fresh parsley.
  5. Transfer soup to serving bowls and top with extra virgin olive oil. If you like, top each bowl with a generous sprinkle of feta cheese. Serve with your favorite crusty bread!

Notes

  • Cook's Tips: Be sure the lentils are fully cooked before blending. To achieve creamy consistency, don't skip blending the soup. I find using an immersion blender on low speed (and while heat is off) is an easier and less messy way to blend the soup. But if you need to, you can use a food processor or a stand-up blender. If you do so, blend the soup in batches to avoid it overflowing.
  • Vegan option: simply omit the feta cheese.
  • Leftovers & reheating: Store leftover lentil soup in an airtight container for 3-4 days in the fridge. When you are ready to heat the soup again, place in a pot and heat on the stove over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until bubbly. You may find it helpful to add a little more broth to help the consistency.
  • Visit our online shop to browse Mediterranean ingredients, including our all-natural red lentils, extra virgin olive oils, including Early Harvest EVOO, and all-natural and organic spices, including cumin and rosemary!
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 23
  • Category: Soup
  • Method: Stovetop
  • Cuisine: Greek

Keywords: red lentil soup, easy red lentil soup, vegan red lentil soup

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I'm Suzy; born and bred right on the shores of the Mediterranean. I'm all about easy, healthy recipes with big Mediterranean flavors. Three values guide my cooking: eat with the seasons; use whole foods; and above all, share! So happy you're here...
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Comments

  1. Hi. I have to say...this soup is absolutely deliciously delicious. Will be making it very often. I will definitely check your other recipes. Thanks.

  2. Such a simple recipe, it's filling and tastes incredible! Really enjoyed this! I'll be making this weekly throughout the winter months here in Winnipeg. Thank you 🙂

  3. Hi Suzy, a fan from the Mediterranean here. Love your recipes, but any chance of giving metric measurements also?

    The soup is a winner!

    1. Hi, Angus! Thanks for reaching out. I'm so sorry we don't have metric measurements for this recipe available. We do try to add them when we can, but we just haven't found the right metric conversion tool for every recipe on our website quite yet. It's something we're working on solving.

  4. Amazing dish. Very easy to make, perfect healthy weeknight meal. Even my picky 6 year old daughter finished the bowl.

  5. So very good and easy, too.
    I love your recipes.
    Thank you!
    My guy is pescatarian and you have so many recipes we both like.

  6. This is probably one of my all time favourites ! I’ve made this 3 times and everyone who tries it loves it. This will definitely be one of my staples.

  7. Amazing recipe! So easy and really delicious. The addition of lemon juice, feta and olive oil at the end really takes it to the next level.

    1. Hi, Diana. I guess you probably could, but I'm not sure how it would affect the overall flavor profile as it's not something we've tried with this recipe.