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  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. Seriously the best lentil soup recipe I’ve tried, and I’ve made MANY! I’m Greek and loved all the flavours. Delightful. Thank you!

  2. Suzy, as always, it's simply perfect. Honestly. I had to use a parsnip and a carrot, because I had a very sad parsnip wanting desperately to be used, and I seriously wouldn't have changed a thing. The splash of lemon just ZINGS the cumin, and pureeing the lentils gives it an almost... idk, velvety? mouth feel! It's SO luxurious!

  3. Made this last night for my family and they really enjoyed it. I've tried a few red lentil soup recipes and this is the best by far. So flavorful. I only used 1 lemon for juice but next time I will definitely try two.

  4. My family raved about this soup. I make a version of this but for some reason, yours is so much simpler and more delicious. Suzy - I so love your vibe and passion for food. I spent a few years early in my career living in, and traveling around the Middle East and LOVE the flavors. Thank you for sharing your food and your wonderful self. I am definitely going to pre-order your book through an independent bookseller in my Seattle neighborhood.

    1. You are very sweet, Heather! Thank you so much for your kind words and support of The Mediterranean Dish!

  5. I made this wonderful soup today, thank you so much for the lovely recipe, Suzy! It is so flavourful, and it was also my first time cooking with red lentils! I only used juice of 1/2 lemon, though, and it turned out to be amazing for us! Many thanks <3

  6. Made this on Sunday and have been enjoying for lunch all week. Even my meat and potatoes husband can’t get enough of this. It’s incredible how filling this is. The only thing I changed on his is a bit less lemon because he’s not a fan! What’s wrong him? Who doesn’t LOVE lemons!! Tonight making the whipped feta! Make at least one or two of your recipes a week. It’s helped me lose 65lbs. Thanks for making healthy taste so good!!

  7. This is a great cold weather, soup for supper meal. I added some cooked shredded chicken once the soup was finished, just to give it some extra protein. Either way, we love this recipe!

  8. This is delicious! Best recipe I've tried in years! I didn't have vegetable broth so I used chicken bone broth. I used a whole 14 ounce can of diced tomatoes because I didn't want to waste the extra. I didn't bother blending it. I was skeptical of using so much lemon juice but it's perfect. It almost doesn't need the feta because it's so flavorful. Bookmarking this page.

    1. Absolutely delicious!
      I love Mediterranean cooking so trying to eat more of it, and find wonderful recipes like this one.
      I only had homemade frozen chicken stock, so used that. Didnt blend as waiting for it to cool. Ate it unbranded and love the broth just drank it because it was so good.
      For me I love lemon and can never have enough lemon. Lemon in this recipe was a wonderful add. Also had it with feta, just great. This is a keeper!

  9. Very delicious combination of flavors. Just a note, my family IS Greek, living in Greece. While lemon, garlic, feta and oregano are common in Greek recipes, as with many other cuisines, this is definitely not a “Greek” inspired recipe, Authentic Greek recipes do not include red lentils, cumin or red pepper flakes. These ingredients actually make it more Middle-Eastern.

    1. Suzy,
      I made this soup today and it was delicious! Using feta cheese to top off the soup is a must. I did not use an immersion blender as it was creamy enough. We will definitely be eating this frequently!! We had not had red lentils before, and really like the taste and consistency better than other types.

  10. Wonderful dish, however ...I think there is too much lemon. I loved it but I would use less lemon juice..thanks, Nice dish!

  11. This surprised me!! I'm not a fan of lentils, but the recipe sounded intriguing. I found it needed more salt than stated and I upped the chili because I'm a chili head, what can I say, lol! Overall, very yummy, thanx Suzy!

  12. Hi Suzy,
    I am going to make this soup today. Looking for to it!
    I saw the nutrition facts. I just wanted to know what the serving size was. I am currently logging my food intake so just wanted to know what the serving size was. Thank you so much.

    1. Hi, Neela.The whole recipe can be divided by 6 to get the "serving size". The nutrition info here is our best effort and we use a program that calculates that for us based on the ingredient list. The exact serving size measurement (by cups, etc) is another layer that's harder for us to precisely calculate at this time. Hope you enjoy the soup! It's a great one!

  13. My first time making this and it was a hit!!! I feel like im a pro already. Thank u so much for sharing your talent to us.

  14. Absolutely amazing soup! Didn’t add feta cheese or chilli flakes but it was delicious anyway.

  15. I like all your vegetarian recepies. I am vegetarian and trying to go for a vegan diet.

    This lentil soup must be really good. I will try.

    Can I make this soup and all the other soups in INSTANT POT?

    Thanks for your time to read this questions.

    1. Hi, Priti. You can definitely make this on in an Instant Pot. I've included instructions in the section of the post titled "Can I make red lentil soup in the instant pot?". We also include specific Instant Pot instructions for other soups we have tested with that method. If you type "Instant Pot" in the search menu of the blog it will bring up these recipes.

  16. Excellent soup! I love all these flavors, and it kept me full for HOURS. Definitely will make again. Thanks!

  17. We loved this soup!!! Made exactly as directed. I doubled the recipe so we could take it for lunch during the week. My favorite was the lemon juice & zest, added so much flavor.

  18. This is delicious; it's restaurant quality. My 1 lb package of red lentils was about 2-1/3 cups....so I added another 1 cup of broth. I didn't bother to blend the soup, either. I used only one lemon. I could only find the big (28 oz) can of crushed tomatoes, so I divided it into thirds and I am freezing the leftover in plastic freezer bags for the when I make this soup again!

      1. Amazing tastes. I’ve never loved lentils but this soup I did love a ton! The best lentil soup so far!