Red Lentil Soup

This is a recipe for basic lentil soup. See the bottom of page for a more flavor complex recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.


1 large onion, chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 teaspoon ground cumin or 1/2 tsp of freshly ground cumin seeds
1 Turkish or 1/2 California bay leaf
1 sprig fresh thyme
1 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
3 cups chicken broth
2.5 cups water
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Cook onion in oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 8 minutes.
Add garlic, cumin, bay leaf, and thyme and cook, stirring, 1 minute more. Add lentils, broth, water, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and simmer, partially covered, stirring occasionally, until lentils are very soft and falling apart, about 30 to 45 minutes.
Discard bay leaf and thyme sprig. Whisk vigorously to break down and puree the lentils, or use an immersion blender. Garnish with cilantro and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Red Lentil Soup with North African Spices

4 tablespoons butter
1 onion, minced
3/4 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 clove garlic
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water 
10.5 oz red lentils, picked over and rinsed
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1.5 teaspoon dried mint
1 teaspoon paprika
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and 1 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened but not browned, about 5 minutes. Add coriander, cumin, ginger, cinnamon, cayenne, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes. Stir in tomato paste and garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in broth, water, and lentils and bring to simmer. Simmer vigorously, stirring occasionally, until lentils are soft and about half are broken down, about 15 minutes.

Whisk soup vigorously until it is coarsely pureed, about 30 seconds. Stir in lemon juice and season with salt and extra lemon juice to taste. Cover and keep warm. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Thin soup with water, if desired, when reheating.)

Melt remaining 2 tablespoons butter in small skillet. Remove from heat and stir in mint and paprika.