Vegan Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Cumin

This soup….this soup is my favorite lentil soup.  I almost can’t come up with the words to describe how much I love this soup.  I’ve made it several times in the past few weeks because it is simply that good. And it’s simple to make.  Basically, it’s one of those toss everything into the pot and let it cook for awhile and ladle it into bowls.  I’m not too shy to tell you I ate the whole pot by myself over the course of a few days.  I hid the leftovers in the back of the fridge where my husband couldn’t see it.  I was eating the last spoonful when he said, “Oh!  I didn’t know there was more lentil soup!”  And I casually put the spoon down and said, “There isn’t.”

Do you get excited about food like this?  Am I strange?  This happens every so often and then I go overboard and eat it for a month straight before moving onto something else.  I have a feeling I’m not going to tire of this recipe.  It’s a definite keeper and perfect for a chilly (or downright freezing) winter night when all you want to do is hunker down with a good book or episode of your favorite show.

So back to this fabulous soup.  I love red lentils a lot.  They cook quickly and turn silky smooth when pureed.  They also have a bit of natural sweetness that I like.  I’ve made this soup with and without sweet potatoes, and I can’t quite decide which way I love the most.  Probably with the sweet potatoes.  I like the extra sweetness they lend.  It balances out the acid from the lemon.

I leave the soup a little chunky and a little smooth because as always, I’m indecisive–should I puree it completely or leave it chunky?  I’m also in love with my immersion blender so any excuse to get it out and use it, right?

p.s. I’m on Instagram (@cafe_johnsonia) now.  If you want some in-the-process photos, check out this, this, and this.

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Vegan Red Lentil Soup with Lemon and Cumin

  • Total Time: 50 mins
  • Yield: 6-8 1x


Units Scale
  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed well
  • 34 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and diced (about 1 large)
  • 56 cups water
  • 1 Tbsp. canola oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 Tbsp. whole cumin seeds, toasted
  • 1 Tbsp. ground cumin
  • 2 tsp. ground coriander, optional (goes well with cumin)
  • Juice of 1 large lemon, about 3 Tbsp., or to taste
  • 23 tsp. salt (start with less and taste)
  • pinch cayenne pepper, optional
  • Hot, cooked rice, for serving


  1. Heat a 4 qt. pot over medium-high heat. Add the canola oil and heat for about 30 seconds. Add the diced onions and cook, stirring frequently, for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Lower the heat and continue cooking for another 10-15 minutes, or until onions are soft, translucent and fragrant.
  3. Add the garlic and cook for a few more minutes. Add the lentils and 5 cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer. Cook for 5-10 minutes and add the sweet potatoes along with 2 tsp. of salt. Continue simmering until potatoes are soft. Add the cumin seeds, ground cumin, ground coriander (if using), and lemon juice. Taste and add more salt if necessary. Add the cayenne pepper, if using.
  4. Using a stick blender, or traditional blender, puree some of the soup and add it back to the rest of the soup to thicken it. Ladle over hot, cooked rice and serve.
  5. Makes enough for about 6-8 servings.
  • Author: Lindsey Johnson
  • Prep Time: 10 mins
  • Cook Time: 40 mins
  • Category: soup


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