This easy red lentil soup is creamy, hearty, and also dairy-free, gluten-free and nut-free. It's loaded with veggies and a fragrant blend of spices for a healthy and delicious weeknight dinner or lunch.
Soup season means I'm whipping out my stock pots to make big batches of hearty soups and stews with seasonal produce.
And this red lentil soup has the heartiness and protein of a stew with tons of veggies and spices for added nutrients and flavor. This recipe is sure to become a favorite!
Why You’ll Love This Red Lentil Soup Recipe
Here's what makes this red lentil soup one of my go-to fall dinners:
- Hearty and filling. Red lentils are packed with protein, making this the kind of soup that will keep you full and satisfied for hours.
- Super healthy. There are tons of good-for-you ingredients in this soup—it's high in fiber, protein, and vitamins.
- Easy to make. Although the soup needs to simmer to perfection for a bit, there’s very little hands-on time involved in this recipe.
- Perfect for meal prep and make-ahead meals. Red lentil soup is one of those glorious recipes that tastes even better after a day or two in the fridge. All the flavors mix and mingle!
What You’ll Need
Here are all of the ingredients you’ll need to make red lentil soup. Make sure to check out the recipe card at the bottom of the page to see the exact quantities for each ingredient.
- Olive oil – You can use avocado oil or ghee if you prefer.
- Onion – I use white, but yellow is fine too; it simply has a milder flavor.
- Tomato paste – For added umami. Freeze the extra tomato paste and you’ll have what you need the next time you make this soup!
- Cumin, chili powder, and Aleppo pepper – A combination of spices that’s warm and earthy, making them an exceptional pairing with red lentils.
- Tomato sauce
- Vegetable broth – Use homemade or store-bought.
- Red lentils – These puree into a creamy texture.
- Lemon juice
Can I Substitute Green Lentils for Red Lentils?
No, green lentils are larger and will not break down as quickly or as smoothly as red lentils, so it's best to stick with the red lentils for this recipe. Red lentils have a creamy texture when cooked, which makes them perfect for soups and stews like this one.
How to Make Red Lentil Soup
Ready to get started? Here’s what you’ll need to do.
Cook the aromatics. Heat the oil in a pot set over medium heat, then sauté the onion, garlic, and carrot until the onion is translucent.
Add the spices and tomato paste. Stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin, chili and Aleppo pepper and cook for about a minute.
Simmer. Pour in the tomato sauce, broth, and water, then stir in the lentils. Bring the soup to a boil, then partially cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the lentils are tender.
Puree. If desired, puree half the soup in a blender or food processor, or use an immersion blender.
Finish. Add the pureed portion back to the pot and stir in the lemon juice. Serve with fresh herbs and vegan yogurt or sour cream.
Tips for Success
This is a straightforward red lentil soup recipe, but these additional tips will make it even better.
- Toast the tomato paste. Toasting the tomato paste and dried spices adds caramelized notes to the soup and brings out the natural flavor compounds in the spices for a bolder and richer taste.
- Make it creamy. I like to puree half the soup for a consistency that's smooth and creamy, but not totally flat. If you're short on time, you can skip the blending altogether. For a smoother soup, puree all of it. You can also use an immersion blender to blend until you reach your desired texture.
- Season to taste. Taste and adjust the seasonings before serving. If you’re using vegetable stock instead of broth, for example, you’re likely to need a little more salt.
You can serve your red lentil soup with any of your favorite toppings. Here are some I love:
- Vegan sour cream or coconut yogurt
- Fresh cilantro or parsley
- Red pepper flakes
- Croutons or Crispy Chickpea Croutons
How to Store Leftovers
Leftover red lentil soup can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stove or in the microwave before serving.
Can I Freeze This Recipe?
Yes, this soup is very freezer-friendly! To freeze, store it in a freezer-safe zip-top bag or container for up to 6 months. Be sure to leave some room at the top of your container, as the soup will expand as it freezes.
More Cozy Soup Recipes
- Sweet Potato Lentil Soup
- Chunky Vegan Potato Soup with Kale
- Instant Pot Vegan Wild Rice Soup
- Vegan Cream of Broccoli Soup
- Tuscan Kale White Bean Soup
Red Lentil Soup Recipe
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 white onion , chopped
- 2 – 3 garlic cloves , minced
- 1 large carrot , chopped
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- Generous pinch of salt and pepper , to taste
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- ½ teaspoon chili powder
- ½ teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1 (15oz) can tomato sauce
- 4 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- 1 ½ cups red lentils
- Juice of 1 lemon
- Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, garlic, and carrot and saute until the onion is translucent.
- Stir in the tomato paste, salt, pepper, cumin, chili and Aleppo (if using). Cook another minute or so to allow the spices to bloom a bit.
- Pour the tomato sauce, broth and water into the pot and stir in the lentils. Bring the soup to a boil then partially cover and reduce to a simmer for 20 – 25 minutes.
- Once the lentils are cooked, blitz half of the soup in a blender, food processor, or with an immersion blender. This step is optional but gives the soup a really amazing texture!
- Add the blended portion back to the pot and stir in the lemon juice just before serving.
- Garnish with fresh herbs and a dollop of vegan yogurt or sour cream.
- Refrigerator: store in a sealed container in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat on the stove or microwave.
- Freezer: store in a sealed container (preferably glass) in the freezer for up to 6 months. Be sure to leave some room at the top of your container as the soup will expand as it freezes. To heat, allow soup to thaw for 1 – 2 hours at room temp, then heat through on the stove or in the microwave.