Do you need a tasty and wholesome meal for dinner? Look no further. Lentil soup is a popular family dish, and for good reason.

It is quick to prepare, and the primary ingredients include staples on your weekly grocery list.  How convenient!

Even better, when you don’t feel like cooking, you can still whip up a healthy and satisfying dinner in under an hour.

Of course, lentil soup recipes vary globally, and everyone has their favorite. 

On the other hand, when you’re in the mood for an adventurous Mediterranean twist, this recipe is a must-try!

Keep reading to discover these enticing flavors, the differences between lentil varieties, nutritional aspects, and creative ways to serve lentil soup.

Let’s get started!

How to Make the Best Lentil Soup: Creamy and Comforting

Making lentil soup is easy and ready to serve in a flash. However, depending on the variety of lentils you use, the cooking time, taste, and texture will differ. 

It is tricky to pinpoint which variety makes the best lentil soup. That said, Mediterranean-inspired soups bring deep-rooted culinary heritage to the table.

These recipes have been passed down for generations, ensuring you experience all the authentic flavors.

So, before you get your cooking vibes going, let’s dig a little deeper into the world of lentils.

What Type of Lentil is Best

Lentils come in several shapes and sizes. In addition to their flavors and consistencies, each variety is a protein powerhouse.

Of the vast varieties available, 3 seem to frequent grocery store shelves, namely:

  • Brown
  • Red
  • Green 

Now, how do you choose based on their unique qualities?  

Here is a quick reference guide to help you along.

Variety Flavor Profile Consistency Cook Time Dish Suggestings
Brown lentils Deep and earthy Creamy with a subtle pop 20 – 30 minutes Soups, stews and salads
Red lentils Mild and slightly sweet Soft and tender 12 – 15 minutes Soups, stews, and dips
Green lentils Nutty and peppery Firm with a slight crunch 30 – 45 minutes Salads and dips

 

Undoubtedly, lentils bring diversity across the meal spectrum, giving you the freedom to prepare whatever you desire and decide on how much time you want to invest.

One of the lentils’ most significant attributes is their ability to absorb every bit of flavor from the added ingredients. 

Therefore, using a rich vegetable or chicken broth ensures every mouthful is morish!

Okay, it’s time to unleash the magical flavors of a Middle Eastern-inspired lentil soup!

Recipe Overview

Say hello to a lentil soup eager to tantalize your taste buds. 

Creamy and zesty, with subtle earthy and nutty notes, this dish transports you to the heart of its origin.

While the recipe calls for a particular Middle Eastern spice, there’s no need to panic.  Your collection will likely have the spices required to blend a suitable substitute, achieving similar tasty results. 

We suggest you opt for red lentils; their nuttiness works tasty wonders and aligns with the recipe’s cultural roots. If you don’t have red, it’s okay to use brown.  

In this case, remember to pay attention to the cooking times.

Lentil soup ingredients

Dietary Information Vegetarian, Vegan
Servings 8
Prep 15 minutes
Cook 15 – 30 minutes (depending on desired soup consistency)
Total 30 – 60 minutes

 

  • 1 tbsp (15ml) olive oil: extra virgin is best
  • 1 medium yellow onion:  chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic:  crushed or finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups (375ml) of dried red lentils: well rinsed with cold water to remove dust and debris
  • ½ cup (125ml) short grain parboiled white rice: brown rice is not recommended as it takes longer to cook, affecting the consistency
  • 1 large carrot or 2 medium carrots:  opt for medium carrots for a sweeter flavor
  • 1 ½ tsp (7.5ml) of baharat (7 spice):  this warm spice blend comprises ground black pepper, cardamom, cloves, cumin, nutmeg, coriander, and paprika.  (See Suitable Substitutes)
  • ½ tsp (2.5ml) turmeric
  • Seasoning:  ½ tsp (2.5ml) kosher salt and ½ tsp (2.5ml) freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 cups (68 oz or 2 liters) water:  use vegetable broth to enhance the flavor
  • 1 freshly juiced small to medium lemon:  depending on how zesty you enjoy your soup

      Pro Tip: Add a little squeeze of fresh lemon before serving if you prefer a lighter citrus flavor

Garnish

  • 2 green onions:  finely chopped
  • ¼ cup (62.5ml): chopped fresh parsley

Optional Garnish

  • 1 tsp (5ml):  lemon zest – before you squeeze your lemon, grab a zester to gather.

      Pro Tip:  try to avoid the white pith area of the lemon skin; it is extremely bitter.

  • Light sprinkle of paprika for color

Method

  • Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat, and cook the onions for about 5 minutes until translucent (glossy)
  • Add the garlic and cook for a further minute
  • Add the baharat (or substitute mix) and turmeric and cook for 30 – 45 seconds (be careful not to burn the garlic and spices)
  • Stir in the lentils, rice, carrot/s, seasoning, and cook for 2 – 3 minutes.  Allow your nose to help you here.  You will smell the spices come alive!
  • Add water or broth, and bring to a boil
  • Turn the heat to low and cook uncovered until the rice and lentils cook thoroughly (about 15 – 20 minutes)
  • Remove from the heat and stir in the lemon juice

Serve

  • Serve whole or pulse in a blender for a smoother consistency
  • Scoop into colorful soup plates or bowls
  • Garnish with green onion and parsley alongside optional extras if you fancy

      Pro Tip:  the dairy garnish enhances the creaminess and flavor.

Suitable Substitutes

For the baharat alternative, here are a few blends to consider:

Ratio: ½ tsp (2.5ml) each

  • Ground cumin, ground coriander, smoked paprika (or paprika)
  • Ground cumin, nutmeg, smoked paprika (or paprika)
  • Ground cumin, ground coriander, and nutmeg
  • Ground cardamom, ground cumin, nutmeg

Also, you can add a pinch of ground black pepper.

5 Side Dish Suggestions to Serve with Lentil Soup

By now, you have seen how lentils contribute significantly to your protein intake.

Let’s explore the nutritional aspects of these incredible legumes.

Lentil Nutritional Facts

Lentils may be small, yet they provide a wide variety of nutrients.

To begin with, they have a whopping 25% protein content, making them a top choice for meat eaters seeking a high-protein plant alternative. It’s unlikely that vegetarians or vegans will not have a healthy stash in their pantries.  

Moreover, they are also an excellent source of iron, magnesium, potassium, and zinc, as well as a range of essential vitamin B’s, particularly vitamin B6.

Alongside the extensive list of nutritional benefits, their versatility in the culinary environment assists in achieving optimal health in a delicious way.

Moving into the food production aspects, lentils’ growing reputation has increased demand substantially. 

For this reason  many US farmers and environmental specialists have recognized the need to supply food grown in the best possible way.  

Doing so ensures you get all the natural benefits our resources can offer alongside promoting vital sustainability.

To learn more, have a look here.

Certainly, there are several questions about lentil soup.  Here are a few answers for you.

FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

Which lentil is best for soup?

The best lentils for soup are brown, green, or red.  These varieties are readily available, and several recipes use them.  It is important to remember that each lentil has a unique taste, texture, and cooking time. Brown lentils have a neutral, earthy flavor, opening the spectrum to vast ingredient choices. Red lentils are sweeter, and green lentils have a nutty undertone, so pairing them with more specific ingredients enhances their distinct taste.

Do you have to soak lentils for soup?

Good news!  You do not have to soak lentils for soup.  However, you must rinse them thoroughly with cold water to remove all the dust and residue. Unlike beans, which can take several hours to cook, lentils cook quickly from dry.  Although lentil varieties require different cooking times, you can expect them to cook through from as little as 15 minutes and usually not more than 45 minutes.

Can lentil soup be frozen?

Yes, lentil soup can be frozen for up to five months when stored correctly. Once cool, the best way to freeze it is to put it in an airtight container or a double zip-lock freezer bag. Ensure you seal the bag properly to avoid spillage and freezer burn. Do not lie it down with frozen items on top of it; doing so can cause the bag to burst open.

Last Lentil Thoughts

Lentil soup is the quickest comfort food to prepare. Indeed, it nourishes your body and your soul.  

Apart from this, it’s extreme diversity as a base ingredient gives you room to play with your favorite flavors. These delightful legumes have stood the test of time by offering tasty meals and exceptional health benefits.

But don’t take our word for it; visit us at Alladins Houston to dine in or grab a soup to go. We invite you to experience our enticing menu and friendly hospitality.  

After all, what better way to visit the Mediterranean than one soup at a time without leaving your city?

Related Reads:

Lentil Salad:  A Comprehensive Guide

Why the Mediterranean Diet is Consider the Best Diet of 2024