Lebanese lentil soup features red lentils, veggies and Lebanese spices in a beautiful, aromatic and creamy broth. Make this vegetarian soup recipe in only 30 minutes!
When you’re craving soup, the last thing you want is to spend hours making it. That’s one of the nice benefits of cooking with lentils; they need very little time to cook.
Another great benefit is, lentils and other legumes can be pureed to change the consistency of a dish. For this soup recipe, we pureed them to make the broth creamy without using heavy cream or starchy thickeners like roux. This keeps the calories and fat lower than many other creamy soups.
Of course, if you like a bit of texture in your soup, you don’t have to puree them at all. This is the case with Moroccan harira; it’s a beef and lentil soup with a texture that’s almost like a stew or chili.
Lebanese lentil soup
Cuisine: Lebanese / Middle Eastern
Popular items on a Levantine mezze in Lebanon are typically savory bites like couscous cakes, corn fritters, and kibbeh croquettes.
Oftentimes, those small bites are meant to be a substitute for a heartier main dish meal. This doesn't mean that you couldn't serve a small bowl of soup like this one. It could be a nice addition to that mezze!
Mezze, soup, or main dish
Difficulty: Easy 🥄
Creamy, hearty, vegetarian soup with red lentils, white rice, vegetables, and seasonings of turmeric and Lebanese 7 spice.
Ingredient notes and substitutions
Because they grow in pods like peas and beans, lentils are classified as legumes. They’re a great source of protein and fiber, and also low in fat, making them a healthy substitute for meat.
Because they cook so quickly and don’t need to be soaked before cooking, they’re fantastic for using as the base for this delicious Lebanese soup. They come in several varieties but the most common are brown, green, red/yellow, and black.
Red lentils are also known as “split lentils” and of all the varieties, red lentils require the least amount of cooking.
They are called split lentils because they’re broken into pieces. This makes them easy to puree and use as a thickener. I love the beautiful yellow color they have after they’re cooked.
- White rice
I add a half cup of white rice to help make the lentil soup a bit heartier. if you’d like to omit the rice, you can do so. I don’t recommend substituting brown rice for white. Brown rice requires a longer cook time, which could cause the lentils to become mushy.
The gorgeous yellow color of this Lebanese lentil soup comes from a couple of things. Primarily, it’s the red lentils, which take on a yellow color after cooking, but it’s also from turmeric. In addition to the gorgeous color, turmeric is very aromatic and known to have a host of health benefits.
The other primary seasoning in the soup is a Lebanese spice blend known as seven spice. This is an aromatic combination of allspice, black pepper, cinnamon, coriander, clove, cumin, and white pepper.
It’s very simple to make seven spice, or you can find it pre-made at most specialty markets, or online retailers like Amazon.
Adjusting the consistency of Lebanese lentil soup
The process of making this soup is very similar to making any other creamy soup, with one significant difference.
Rather than making a roux of fat and flour to thicken the broth, the thickness of this soup depends on how much you puree the red lentils.
For a loose, brothy soup
Cook everything as directed in the recipe and stir to combine, but don't puree any of the ingredients.
To create a partially creamy lentil soup
If you want a bit of texture in the Lebanese red lentil soup, puree only a portion of the ingredients.
After cooking and just before you would normally puree the pot of soup, remove and reserve anywhere from 1 to 3 cups of the cooked mixture.
Puree the contents left in the pot, then stir the reserved mixture back in.
For creamy Lebanese lentil soup
To give the soup a creamy consistency as shown in the photos, simply follow the lentil soup recipe as written in the recipe card below.
- For a heartier soup, add shredded meat or non-animal protein.
I often add shredded rotisserie chicken to my Lebanese lentil soup. To keep the soup vegetarian, you could add some cooked non-animal protein, like vegan sausage crumbles.
- Storing and freezing lentil soup
If you have any extra soup that won't be eaten right away, it will keep in the refrigerator for up to a week. Store it in an airtight container.
For storage up to 3 months, the soup can be frozen. To prevent freezer burn, be sure to cool it completely before transferring to a freezer-safe container or zip top bag.
PRO TIP for saving freezer space
To save space in your freezer, ladle the soup into zip-top freezer storage bags, then lay them flat on the shelf of the freezer. Once frozen, the bags may be stacked.
Lebanese Lentil Soup
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 onion chopped
- 2 cloves garlic minced
- 1 ½ cups dry red lentils
- ½ cup short grain white rice
- 1 large carrot peeled and diced
- 1 ½ teaspoon Lebanese 7 spice
- ½ teaspoon turmeric
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon black pepper
- 8 cups water or vegetable broth
- 1 lemon juice
- 2 green onions chopped fine
- ¼ cup parsley chopped
- In a Dutch oven or large pot, heat the olive oil over medium heat and cook onions, about 5 minutes. Add the minced garlic and cook another minute.
- Stir in the lentils, rice, carrot, Lebanese Seven Spice blend, turmeric, salt and pepper, and cook until the spices are fragrant, about 2-3 minutes.
- Add 8 cups of water, and bring to a boil. Turn heat to low and cook covered until the rice and lentils are fully cooked, about 20 minutes.
- Stir in the lemon juice. Serve whole or using an immersion blender, pulse a few times for desired consistency. Garnish with green onions, parsley, lemon slice and serve warm with pita or bread of choice.
*The information shown below is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist's advice.