Luscious Lentil Soup

When I lived in the Middle East, my husband and I took a Turkish cooking class and learned how to make this delicious Turkish lentil soup. The original recipe added the lemon at the table to taste and mixed some of the cumin and paprika in this recipe with a little melted butter to swirl on the top of each bowl. It's pretty, so I occasionally I'll do that for guests. It's one of my most requested recipes as it has a wonderful flavor, is easy to make, and is very healthy. The carrots and the onion don't need much chopping because they are thrown in a blender. Children often like this mild soup especially if presented as a "dip" for their pita chips. For a good deal on red lentils buy them at an Indian grocery store if you can. I noticed that Trader Joe's and Costco sell split (thinner) red lentils. They won't need the 30 minute soak time, and they taste just as good. Never substitute in gray lentils for the red ones in this recipe. Enjoy!
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1 cup red thin lentils or 1 cup rounded red lentils 6 cups chicken or vegetable stock 1 large onion, cut in 6 pieces 4 large carrots, peeled and cut in halves 1½ teaspoons paprika plus more for garnish 2 Tbsp tomato paste mixed with 1/4 cup water ½ tsp cumin powder plus more for garnish salt 4 tbsp lemon juice (1 large lemon) wheat pita bread, toasted or purchased pita chips lemon wedges Olive oil for garnish swirl (optional)


1) Rinse lentils until no more foamy water comes from them. If the red lentils are thin saucer shape, no soaking before cooking is required. But if the red lentils are more round in shape rather than flatish, soak the lentils for 30 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, place first five ingredients in a saucepan and cook on medium-low heat until tender, about 45 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.
3) Add tomato paste to 1/4 cup water. Mix cumin in as well, and add to cooling soup mixture.
4) When soup mixture is cool (if it is still hot, be extra careful and blend slowly or it could shoot out of the blender), puree in blender or food processor until smooth. Transfer to a saucepan and heat. Add salt or soup base to taste and more stock if a thinner soup is desired.
5) Cut pita bread in wedges, brush lightly with olive oil and toast in oven until crisp, or use purchased pita chips.
6) For an extra touch (but optional), mix olive oil (or butter), lemon juice, paprika, and cumin together and swirl it on the top of the bowls of soup prior to serving.
7) Squeeze lemon juice and add pita chips to each bowl just prior to serving. The soup requires lemon but the lemon ruins the soup if it is added and then left to sit overnight. Offer lemon wedges and pita chips at the table for those who want more lemon.


  • Beth
    February 11, 2011

    I tried the lentil soup recipe (which I love) using regular lentil beans (not the orange ones). I must not have soaked them long enough, becuase the consistency was not smooth but rather it was……granulated? Hard to explain. Or, maybe the carrots, etc were not cooked long enough. Any suggestions.

    Also looking for the black bean, cilantro soup recipe from last night:)

    • Judith the Dietitian
      February 13, 2011

      Red lentils are thinner than other varieties of lentils. Make the soup again using red lentils and don’t worry about cooking the lentils, onions and carrots longer than the recipe indicates. I do all the time because I get busy. I have made this soup hundreds of times and I know many families that make it frequently without any problems. The red lentils are also prettier than other varieties which is particularly important when you are introducing a new food to your family.

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