This carrot and red lentil soup recipe is a heartwarming and healthy bowl of comfort food. It is an easy to prepare soup cooked with fragrant warm spices and tasty aromatics. This nutritious red lentil recipe is high in fibre, rich in vitamins, low in calories and very budget friendly. Serve this filling soup with crusty bread for a delicious lunch or quick and easy weeknight dinner.
What are red lentils?
Lentils are highly nutritious legumes that come in different varieties, from brown to red, green, black and yellow. Red lentils are in fact split and hulled yellow lentils which is why they break down fast and easy while cooking and don’t need to be soaked overnight to soften like the other lentil varieties. Many people won’t use lentils or make lentil soup for the length of time they generally need to cook.
Red lentils have a nutty, earthy and somewhat sweet taste and become quite creamy when broken down after cooking. In general their flavour is quite mild, which is why you will want to add aromatics, spices and other vegetables.
Which ingredients to use
For this carrot red lentil soup you’ll need just a few ingredients. They are easy to source and the aromatics you’ll love to add.
- Red lentils: The main ingredient of this lentil dish. You cannot substitute this with other types of lentils because they need overnight soaking and a longer time to cook.
- Carrots: The sweet taste of carrots combine perfectly with the earthy and sweet aroma of red lentils.
- Garlic and onion: When fried in a splash of olive oil for a couple of minutes they provide extra depth of flavour to this soup.
- Ginger: Fresh ginger is a warm spice but also gives a hint of freshness to this hearty soup.
- Olive oil: Use olive oil to sauté the vegetables for that extra Mediterranean flavour.
- Chicken stock: Consider using either chicken or vegetable stock for a vegetarian touch, homemade or store-bought. Remember to use enough liquid to make the soup seeing that to cook 1 cup of lentils you’ll need 3 cups of liquid. In this recipe we use 6 cups of stock.
- Spices: A whole range of spices will work well for this lentil soup, but I only use ground cumin and paprika powder. Add cayenne pepper or chilli flakes if you want to spice things up.
- Herbs: For extra depth of flavour I add a few bay leaves while cooking the soup. Don’t forget to take them out before blending. For garnish before serving consider using chives, parsley or fresh coriander leaves.
How to make the best lentil soup
Note: All the exact quantities of the ingredients can be found in the recipe card at the bottom of this post.
In order to make the best ever red lentil soup you don’t need to be a highly qualified chef, so here are some basic tips and tricks to follow:
- Sauté the vegetables: This is a step that should not be forgotten when making any soup. It releases all the best flavours of the vegetables before cooking, especially when taking the time for it. The longer onions are fried, the sweeter their aroma becomes. Make sure to finely dice the onion and carrots before sautéing them in olive oil.
- Sauté the lentils: Before adding the stock to the vegetables, add the lentils to the pan and sauté them for a minute or 2. It creates an extra nutty aroma. You will notice immediately once they start frying in the olive oil. Remember to keep stirring in order for the lentils not to get stuck to the pan.
- To blend or not: It is not really necessary to blend the soup at the end of the cooking. When I just use red lentils and aromatics I won’t blend, but with the carrots and the aromatics I decided to get a smoother consistency and used an immersion blender.
- Seasoning: Red lentil soup in itself can for a lot of people taste quite bland. The key is to use the right balance of herbs and spices to still taste the lentils and added vegetables and only just lift up the flavours a little with some extra spices. So don’t overdo it and rather select a choice few.
- Adding cream or not: When blending the soup with an immersion blender you will immediately notice the rather creamy consistency. You can add some cream to make it even more creamy but in my opinion it isn’t necessary at all.
How to store
When making a larger batch of soup which is what I always do, I let the soup cool down and store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days in an airtight container. It can also be frozen. Leave to cool and store in smaller batches in airtight containers and for up to 3 months. Reheat either in the microwave or in a pan on the stovetop.
More soup recipes to try
- Butternut squash soup with orange and mint
- Creamy yellow pepper soup
- Zucchini soup with arugula
- Carrot and ginger soup
- Roasted chestnut and mushroom soup
- Fennel soup with zucchini and star anise
Carrot and red lentil soup
- 1¼ cups (or 240 grams) dried red lentils
- 2 carrots peeled and finely diced
- 1 medium onion peeled and diced
- 3 cloves garlic minced
- 1 teaspoon fresh ginger grated
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 6 cups (or 1½ liters) chicken stock or vegetable stock
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground paprika
- 3 bay leaves
- salt and pepper to taste
- chives finely chopped
- fresh parsley roughly chopped
- fresh cilantro leaves chopped
- Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add diced onions and carrots and sauté for 4-5 minutes until the onions are translucent and the carrots start to soften. Stir in the lentils, garlic, ginger, cumin and paprika until combined and sauté for 1-2 minutes.
- Add the chicken stock and bay leaves and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce the heat, cover with a lid and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.
- Remove the bay leaves and use an immersion or hand blender to purée the soup to a smoother consistency, if required.
- Season with salt and pepper to taste and garnish with fresh chives, parsley or cilantro before serving.
- Make it spicy: Add a pinch of cayenne pepper or chilli flakes for extra heat.
- Blending the soup: The blending of the soup is optional. The lentils will break apart and if the carrots and onions are finely diced the soup can be served without blending. For a smoother texture, use an immersion or kitchen blender.