Lemon Lentil Soup Recipe

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A quick and easy lemon lentil soup recipe with fresh thyme, cumin and a touch of saffron. Vegan, plant-based, healthy, hearty and gluten free, everything you should expect from a one pot, home-cooked meal in January. You can have this protein loaded meal on the table in 30 minutes and perfect to serve 4 people.

Vegan Lemon Lentil Soup

Lemon Lentil Soup

Lemon and herbs bring magic to a simple pot of soup!

I wanted to do a riff on our red lentil stew from last week but without using tomatoes this time. A different flavor profile makes eating lentils on the daily actually exciting.

Instead of using plain vegetable stock here I opted for filtered water that I infused with just a tiny pinch of saffron threads I had in the pantry. A sweet, flowery aroma and beautiful color is what you get by just letting those two hang together while you get the base of this lemony soup going with the aromatics: onion, carrots, cumin and turmeric.

Healthy lemon lentil soup recipe with fresh thyme, cumin and a touch of saffron.

Lemon Lentil Soup Ingredient Notes

  • Aromatics – the usual suspects: onion, carrot and garlic sauteed together until softened and their sugars have concentrated to create the first layer of flavor.
  • Herbs – variegated lemon thyme is a favorite herb I grow in containers year round as it pairs wonderfully with so many dishes, especially this soup. You can do your own spin on this recipe and substitute the thyme with rosemary, parsley and even mint.
  • Red Lentils – the best lentil for a creamy quick soup. They break down fast and naturally thicken the broth. You could use brown or French lentils if you wanted to but those take way longer to cook and the color won’t be as pretty. Basically you’d be making another soup.
  • Spices – earthy cumin, a touch of turmeric, some spicy chili flakes, lemon peel and sweet floral saffron create a uniquely lovely flavor profile.
  • Lemon – the fresh kind to brighten up the final soup and control how lemony you really like it. Save it for last and serve extra lemon wedges on the side.
  • The Broth – you really could use a low sodium veggie broth if desired, however mixing some hot water with a pinch of saffron like I did will give you an instantly amazing broth with a unique aroma that really compliments this soup.
  • Add Ins – bump up the nutrition profile with micro-greens or chop up some Swiss chard leaves, kale or spinach to stir into the soup at the last minute just until wilted.


How Long Does Homemade Lentil Soup Last?

Most homemade soups keep well for one week in the refrigerator in a lidded airtight container or jar. Leftovers can also be frozen and stored for up to six months in freezer proof mason jars or containers. Make sure to thaw them out in the refrigerator before reheating.

Do You Have to Soak Lentils Before Cooking Them?

Unlike beans, lentils have thin skins and do not need to be soaked before cooking. Specifically red lentils have a very quick cooking time of about 15 minutes which makes them ideal for quick, last minute meals. Make sure to pick through them and give them a good rinse.

How To Make Lemon Lentil Soup Creamy?

I pureed only about half of the soup for a creamy rustic texture. If you are looking for an extra silky and creamy finish add a splash of coconut milk and puree the entire batch preferably in a very powerful blender until obliterated. If you find that your soup leftovers have thickened a little too much just add a little splash of water or veggie stock to thin it out when reheating.


You can reheat the soup on the stove top in a small sauce pan, or microwave for 2.5 to 3 minutes so long as you don’t use plastic.

Vegan Lemon Lentil Soup Recipe

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4.60 from 5 votes

Lemon Lentil Soup Recipe

A quick and easy lemon lentil soup recipe with fresh thyme, cumin and a touch of saffron. Vegan, plant-based, healthy, hearty and gluten free.
Print Recipe
Prep Time:5 minutes
Cook Time:11 minutes
Total Time:16 minutes


  • 1 yellow onion - diced
  • 4 cloves garlic - minced
  • 1 cup red lentils (rinsed and picked through)
  • 1 carrot -diced
  • 1/2 bunch thyme
  • 1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
  • 3/4 tsp ground cumin + more to taste
  • 1 tsp turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 strip lemon peel
  • 6.5 cups water or low sodium vegetable stock - hot
  • 1 pinch saffron threads (optional)
  • 1 pinch sea salt + more to taste
  • 2 tsp olive oil or a splash of water (omit oil for WFPB & Plantricious diets)
  • 1 lemon - cut into wedges
  • 1/3 cup micro-greens, cilantro leaves or fresh dill - for serving


  • Mix the hot water or vegetable stock with the saffron threads and set aside.
  • Heat up a soup pot over medium low flame. Add the chopped onion with a drizzle of olive oil and a pinch of sea salt. Sautee for 3 minutes then stir in the carrots. Sautee together for another 5 minutes then stir in the garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin and chili powder. 
  • Add the lentils, lemon peel and thyme and give everything a good stir. Pour in the saffron stock and bring to a simmer. Cook for 15 to 20 minutes until the lentils are cooked through. 
  • Taste and adjust seasonings with the sea salt to your taste. Remove from heat and discard the thyme sprigs and lemon peel. Add the turmeric and using an immersion blender puree about half the soup just to give it a nice rustic texture. For an extra creamy texture use a powerful blender and puree the soup until silky smooth. (Totally optional but suggested.) 
  • Squeeze in the juice from half the lemon and serve hot garnished with the micro-greens and the remaining lemon wedges on the side.  Alternatively you can add a handful of dark leafy greens like spinach, kale, mustard greens or swiss chard and allow them to wilt in the last couple of minutes of cooking.

WFPB + Plantricious

  • To make the recipe compliant make sure to sautee in water and omit the use of any oil in the recipe.
    Certified Plantricious Recipe


  1. Lentils need No pre-soaking and are usually done in 15 to 25 minutes depending on the variety. Red lentils seem to cook the fastest 15-20 minutes.
  2. A cup of lentils contains about 18 grams of protein and 16 grams of fiber, they are also a great source of folate and minerals.
  3. Unlike beans, lentils do not contains sulfur so they don't produce gas.


Calories: 194kcal | Carbohydrates: 35g | Protein: 12g | Sodium: 56mg | Potassium: 581mg | Fiber: 15g | Sugar: 3g | Vitamin A: 2855IU | Vitamin C: 21.9mg | Calcium: 65mg | Iron: 4.3mg
Course: Soup
Cuisine: Mediterranean
Keyword: Lemon Lentil Soup, plant based, vegan,
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 194kcal
Author: Florentina

Vegan Soups:

Healthy Potato Soup
Healthy Potato Soup
Lentil Potato Stew
Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup
Roasted Red Pepper Tomato Soup

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  1. Why didn’t I ever think of pairing lentils with lemon ? I love, love everything Lemon. Left out the saffron and used a little more turmeric instead and the soup turned out fantastic. A keeper and will make again for sure. Love all the recipes here, thank you Florentina.

  2. Lovely recipe and very similar to the Indian lentil soup made in India.We use Mung lentil (small yellow lentils), usually as it’s more delicate to taste and can be pressure cooked so pureeing can be omitted. A garnishing of chopped coriander with lemon is also delicious, served with the soup..

  3. This was such a lovely soup, never thought of pairing lentils with lemon and what a good match they are. Absolutely delicious, thank you Florentina.

  4. Great recipe – could you note where the turmeric is supposed to be added? I assumed it was with the other powdered spices, but I couldn’t find it in the current version of the recipe.

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