Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
Published Aug 22, 2023
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With warm spices, red lentils, sweet potatoes, and fresh lemon juice, Moroccan Red Lentil Soup is a one pot wonder. It’s made with just a handful of ingredients, and is naturally vegan and gluten-free.
This may seem like the sort of thing that a food blogger says all the time, but today it’s the absolute truth, this lentil soup is the best soup I’ve made in years. It’s cozy, hearty, super healthy, and perfect to serve to almost anyone, including those eating vegan and gluten-free.
The key to the delicious flavor in this bowl of goodness is a blend of spices that are common in Moroccan and middle eastern recipes. The flavors come from ground cumin, garlic, bay leaf, lots of fresh lemon, and just a pinch of cinnamon. The ground cinnamon gives the entire bowl the subtle warmth you’d want in a staple soup to use anytime the weather turns cool.
This one is a keeper. Here’s what you need to know.
Ingredients for Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
- Red Lentils – Be sure to use red lentils which cook much more quickly than other types. Green or brown lentils will take much longer to cook to tender and will need 2-3 more cups of liquid.
- Sweet Potatoes – Cut the sweet potatoes into about 1.5-inch cubes so that they cook to tender in the same amount of time as the lentils. If they’re too large or small they many not finish at the same time.
- Lemon Juice – Don’t forget the squeeze of fresh lemon juice at the end. The fresh citrus flavor really balances the warm spices.
- Onion, Bell Pepper, and Garlic – Dice these small and sauté them first to flavor the base of the soup.
- Dried Spices – You probably already have all of the spices you need for this soup in your pantry. They include ground cumin, paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground ginger, and ground cinnamon. You can also use any spice blend labeled as Moroccan Seasoning or Ras el Hanout. You’ll also add a bay leaf for flavor.
- Black Pepper – Black pepper enhances the positive effects of ground turmeric like anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, so be sure to add a few cracks of black pepper to your soup.
- Vegetable Stock or Vegetable Broth – Chicken stock works just fine if you don’t need this soup to be vegetarian.
- Crushed Tomatoes or Tomato Puree – Either of these will work to give the soup a rich, tomato-flavored broth.
How to Make Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
- Sauté the onion and bell peppers over medium heat until the onions are tender and golden brown.
- Add the garlic and dried spices and cook until fragrant.
- Pour in the crushed tomatoes, stock, and bay leaf and bring the soup to a simmer.
- Stir in the potatoes and lentils. Cover and simmer until the lentils and potatoes are tender, 15 to 25 minutes.
- When the soup is finished, you have the option of blending it in a regular blender or immersion blender if you’d like it to be smooth. You choose your desired consistency (see below).
- Stir in some lemon juice and enjoy!
To blend or not to blend
That is the question. 😉 And the answer is, it’s totally up to you! I like to leave the soup with whole chunks of sweet potato for a more hearty texture. If you prefer a smooth texture, this soup is great blended until smooth. You can also split the difference and blend just a small amount of the soup (about a cup) to give the base a more creamy texture while keeping some of the sweet potato chunks.
Lentil soup is great with plain or Greek yogurt stirred in, fresh chopped parsley or fresh dill on top. It’s also a great soup for serving with bread, dinner rolls, or flatbread like pita or naan. Pita chips work great as well and are wonderful crumbled over the soup right at the table – like pita bread croutons! If you want something fresh on the side, try a green salad.
Yes. They will need to simmer for about twice as long in order to turn tender, so simmer them for 10 minutes before adding the sweet potatoes. Use an extra cup of broth / stock to allow for the additional evaporation during the longer cooking time.
Red lentil recipe is great cooked in the slow cooker. For the best flavor and texture, sauté the aromatics and spices and then transfer them to the bowl of a slow cooker. Add lentils and stock and cover. Cook on HIGH for 3 to 4 hours or LOW for 6 to 7 hours, until the lentils and sweet potatoes are tender.
Yes. Just pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, natural release for 10 minutes, and then manually release any remaining pressure.
Freezing Lentil Soup
Lentil soup is a great one to freeze. Cook as directed (wait to add lemon juice until until after you’ve defrosted it) and allow to cool completely. Transfer to freezer-safe containers. Freeze for up to 6 months. Defrost at room temperature or in the refrigerator before reheating to serve. A Printable Freezer Label is below!
Printable Freezer Label
Print and attach the label below so cooking instructions are ready when you are!
Variations on Moroccan Red Lentil Soup
- Add coconut milk – My kids love this soup with a can of regular coconut milk stirred in. It’s one of my favorite things too! It gives it a really creamy texture and flavor. Reduce the stock to 4 cups and stir the coconut milk in with the stock.
- Add rice – Adding short grain rice to simmer in the soup makes it more filling and adds even more texture to the soup.
More Vegetarian Soup Ideas
- Butternut Squash Soup with Turmeric and Ginger
- Instant Pot Potato Leek Soup
- Slow Cooker Black Bean Soup
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Moroccan Red Lentil Soup with Cumin and Lemon
- Dutch Oven or Large Saute Pan
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 cup minced onion
- 1 red bell pepper, diced
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
- 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoons smoked paprika (sub regular paprika)
- 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- black pepper
- 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes or tomato puree
- 5 cups low-sodium vegetable stock (or use chicken stock for a non-vegetarian version)
- 1 bay leaf
- 3 cups diced sweet potato (from about 2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled)
- 1/2 cup dried red lentils
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- plain or greek yogurt, for serving (optional)
- chopped fresh parsley, for serving (optional)
- flatbread (like pita bread), for serving (skip for gluten free)
- Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add olive oil. When oil begins to shimmer, add onion and bell peppers. Sprinkle salt over top.
- Cook, stirring frequently, until onions are deep golden brown, 8 to 10 minutes. (Don’t rush this step as it will give the soup the most flavor.)
- Add garlic, ground cumin, smoked paprika, ground coriander, ground turmeric, ground ginger, ground cinnamon, and a few turns of black pepper. Sauté until fragrant, about 2 minutes.
- Pour in crushed tomatoes, stock, and bay leaf. Bring to a simmer.
- Stir in potatoes and lentils. Cover pot and simmer (reduce heat as needed) until both potatoes and lentils are tender, 15 to 25 minutes. (Note: The cook time for red lentils can vary based on their age)
- Remove soup from heat and stir in lemon juice. Discard bay leaf.
- Taste soup and season with some more salt if needed. Serve soup with yogurt and / or parsley on top and warm pita bread on the side.
Nutrition information is automatically calculated, so should only be used as an approximation.