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Red Lentil and Carrot Soup

By October 8, 2012January 7th, 2023Cuisine, Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, Uncategorized

Lentil soup is one of those things that can go horribly wrong.   It doesn’t have to.


Unappetizing, grey, watery, and tasteless is the verdict most often hurled at lentil soup.    This is a shame because with just a few extra steps, lentil soup can be a bowl of pure magic.

Choose your lentils carefully:

Bad lentil soup often begins with bad lentils.  Instead of the larger  tough and rubbery green lentils, try the smaller and tastier black or red lentils.  My top choice for a winning lentil soup is always red “football” lentils, which are happily readily available in Moscow at most supermarkets.


I’ve developed this recipe over a few years after being very inspired by fellow food blogger Sarah Melamed from the mouthwatering blog Food Bridge.    The success of Sarah’s red lentil soup recipe is not only a great balance of flavor, but attention to the aesthetics of the soup.   She rightly points out that when red lentils cook, they lose their brilliant orange hue and become sludgy beige.  Carrots, red peppers, tomatoes, and tomato paste do stellar work in re-introducing vibrant orange back into the mix.

Puree Half of the Lentil Soup:

Lentil soup to my mind should never be watery, but nor should it be a smooth puree.  There needs to be a balance and a bite.   This is achieved by the use of tomato paste, which helps to bind the ingredients together and by pureeing half of the soup and combining it with the remainder.

Many lentil eaters are committed vegetarians.  This soup can easily be made vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for chicken stock, though if you are a meat eater, using homemade chicken stock gives Red Lentil Soup a great flavor layer that adds to its success.

If you are a curry fan, by all means, introduce that spice into the mix by the addition of two tablespoons of curry powder with the dried lentils.

To bulk up this soup, add half a cup of cooked quinoa or bulgur.

Red Lentil Soup


  • 1 large red onion (peeled and chopped)
  • 3 medium-sized carrots (peeled and chopped)
  • 500 gm (1 lb) plum tomatoes (cored, seeded, and chopped)
  • 375 ml (1-1/2 cups) red lentils
  • 3 cloves garlic (peeled and minced)
  • 1 knob ginger (peeled and minced)
  • 30 ml (2 Tbl) tomato paste
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) cinnamon
  • 15 ml (1 Tbl) whole coriander seeds (crushed with a mortar and pestle)
  • 5 ml (1 tsp) paprika
  • 1 pinch red chili pepper
  • 2 red bell peppers, (cored and chopped)
  • 30 ml (2 Tbl) grated orange zest
  • 30 ml (2 Tbl) coarse sea salt
  • 10 ml (2 tsp) cracked black pepper
  • 250 ml (1 cup) white wine
  • 1 liter (1 quart) chicken or vegetable stock
  • 60 ml (1/4-cup) fresh cilantro and mint (roughly chopped)
  • 1 lemon (sliced into wedges)
  • 30 ml (2 Tbl) caster sugar


  • Heat the olive oil in a heavy-bottomed soup pot or Dutch Oven. Saute the onions and garlic gently for five or six minutes. As the onion and garlic begin to soften, sprinkle one tablespoon of the salt over them.
  • When the onion and garlic are soft and translucent, add the dried lentils and tomato paste and the sugar and stir to combine. Cook gently for three minutes, stirring with a wooden spoon to coat the lentils with the tomato paste.
  • Pour the white wine over the mixture and bring to a light simmer. Cook for two minutes, allowing the lentils to absorb the liquid.
  • Add the carrots, bell peppers, tomatoes, ginger, orange zest, and all of the spices. Cook covered for ten minutes.
  • Add the chicken broth, bring to a boil then cover and cook for 30 minutes or until the lentils are soft.
  • Divide the soup into two batches. Puree one batch in a blender or with a hand-held mixer until smooth. Combine the two batches and heat through gently.
  • Serve garnished with fresh cilantro (coriander) and lemon wedges.


Dear Readers,

Are you a lentil fan?  What’s your favorite dish?  Have you endured watery lentil soup?

It’s Certainly Soup Season!  Try Other Recipes Like This One :

Green Soup

Creamy Mushroom Soup

Butternut Sage Soup



  • Tess says:

    Jen, I love lentils and used to eat them a lot during the long Moscow winters. They feel satisfying and comforting enough but make a change from endless potato… And as you know, my LSH is quite a carnivore. But this recipe from bill Sewell’s ‘food from the place below’ is a complete winner.

    250 mil red wine
    50 mil soya sauce
    450 mil of water
    225g Puy lentils
    2 cloves of garlic, crushed
    1 large onion, halved and sliced
    50ml sun flower oil
    1.25kg field mushrooms peeled and thickly sliced )
    1 bay leaf
    100gr cashew nuts
    1 bunch of thyme , leaves picked off the stalk , or 1 teaspoon of dried thyme

    1 put the wine , soya sauce , water and the lentils in a pot . bring to the boil, then simmer for 35 min n until the lentils are just tender
    2 in a large casserole , preferably heavy bottomed pot (just like me) sweat the garlic & onion in the oil until soft
    3 add the mushroom and bay leaf (and the thyme if you are using dried one ) when the mushrooms are going soft, add the lentils with their cooking liquor and remove from the heat
    4 whizz the cashew nuts in a blender with just a tiny bit of water so as to make a thick paste .
    stir this paste into the casserole and re heat , check the seasoning and serve

    • jennifer says:


      What a wonderful recipe ! I love the idea of the cashews! I also love the combination of the mushrooms and the lentils! Definitely going to try this in the very near future!


  • Regina Mooney says:

    I love your recipe, Jen, and I’m going to try it this weekend when i go down to Portland.

  • Elizabeth says:

    Hi Jennifer

    How well does this soup freeze? I’d like to make it on the weekend but save for later in the week.

    It looks great and I have everything on hand so would like to get started!


    • jennifer says:

      Hey Elizabeth!

      It freezes pretty well, but it will be fine in the fridge for up to six days.
      If you do freeze it, you may want to perk it up with some additional spices.

      Let me know how it works out!!

  • Fwm says:

    Red pepper. Do you mean bell peppers? Also, when are they added?

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