the taste space

Red Lentil and Lemon Soup

Posted in Appetizers, Favourites, Soups by janet @ the taste space on April 18, 2011


Since declaring myself vegan (although in addition to cutting out dairy, fish and meat, I have also cut out refined sugars, flours, breads and pasta; focusing more on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and legumes), this has caused quite a hubbub amongst my friends and family when we eat together. What will I eat? Does the restaurant have a Janet-friendly vegan option? And what the heck will I eat over Easter?

I didn’t really anticipate this, because my meals have gradually become vegan over time. Combined with a few new cookbooks and new (and old) blogs that I follow, the transition in my own kitchen has been easy and gone un-noticed for the most part. I just had to switch from my 1% milk to a nondairy drink (I have been meticulously documenting my experiences to find my favourite).

I am hoping my blog can inspire others to try recipes that are filled with more whole foods. Contrary to popular belief, the foods I eat taste good. I make no apologies for including a lot of fresh produce and spices, because that’s where the flavour comes from.

However, there are lots of recipes that I make that are very simple and fast, too. I first made this soup to rave reviews from my family over Christmas, including my Dad who doesn’t really like beans, and I plan on breaking it out again over Easter. Adapted from the New York Times, red lentils are simmered into a creamy yet chunky soup, that is complemented by a smoky cumin-tomato broth  yet becomes a light soup with the fresh lemon juice. The cilantro is stirred right into the soup and adds the brightness that makes this soup so special, so please do not skip this step.  Such a simple recipe, yet it is more than the sum of its parts. Decadent enough to be served to company and quick enough to prepare so that you can enjoy their company instead of labouring in the kitchen. Easy to double so you can enjoy leftovers for a few days.

What vegan meals do you enjoy sharing with others that are not vegan?


This is being submitted to this week’s Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted by Haalo from Cook (Almost) Anything.

Red Lentil and Lemon Soup

3 tablespoons olive oil, more for drizzling
1 large onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, more to taste
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper, or to taste (I omitted)
4 cups vegetable broth
1 cup red lentils
1 large carrot, peeled and diced
Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro (do not skip this!!)

1. In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high heat until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

2. Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chili powder or cayenne, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

3. Add broth, red lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partially cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

4. Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée the soup to your desired consistency. I kept mine somewhat chunky.

5. Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chili powder if desired.

Serves 4.

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20 Responses

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  1. Dawn Hutchins said, on April 18, 2011 at 9:20 AM

    What a great post. I love all the recipes here and actually have copied most of them down to print out and try for my upcoming detox. I have found the same thing though, I’m slowly making the change anyway towards cutting out all processed foods, less dairy, I eat almost all vegetarian and the occasional meat but I’m enjoying every delicious step. Last night I made up an Indian spiced soup that I will be sharing with everyone and I do a lot more with veggies and beans (especially from having the csa.)
    This looks fabulous like everything else at this site!

  2. Sweet Artichoke said, on April 18, 2011 at 9:59 AM

    This is a hearty and delicious soup! After being a vegetarian for quite of few years now, I am considering becoming vegan, or at least to try to cut off refined food as much as possible… It is definitely a pleasure to follow. Your pictures are always beautiful.

  3. Helen @ Fuss Free Flavours said, on April 18, 2011 at 2:08 PM

    Congratulations!

    I need to get back to less animal products.

    I cannot recommend a soy milk machine highly enough. Lovely fresh milk with no nasties added at a fraction of the price from the store. I drink a mix of 2/3 soy 1/3 oats and use 100% soy to make milk for fresh homemade tofu.

    As for a vegan meal for non vegans, probably 5 bean or black bean chilli. Simple and satisfying.

    • Saveur said, on April 18, 2011 at 6:47 PM

      Hey Helen,

      Wow – I had no idea you could make your own soymilk in a machine, let alone your own tofu! That sounds awesome – must investigate. :)

  4. Tasha said, on April 19, 2011 at 9:42 AM

    I have made this wonderful soup before, and I enjoyed it so much that I polished off the entire pot by myself in under 24 hours. It was so simple, yet so delightful. This post is making me want to revisit this lovely recipe.

  5. Joanne said, on April 19, 2011 at 1:19 PM

    Why are parents so quick to reject these dietary changes just because they’re different from what they’re used to? When I went out to dinner last night with my mom, siblings and Brian (of A Thought For Food) my mom was amazed that I ordered the vegetarian dish on the menu…even though it was pasta and probably what i would have been inclined to order anyway. Crazy.

    I love it when food is unapologetically delicious AND healthy all at the same time. This looks fantastic!

  6. Maria @ Scandifoodie said, on April 19, 2011 at 1:41 PM

    This sounds so aromatic and tasty! I love light soups like this one :)

  7. Cassie said, on April 19, 2011 at 2:39 PM

    Wonderful looking soup! I love cilantro.

    I do eat meat sometimes, but most of my cooking at home is vegan. When I invite people over for dinner I usually don’t mention that it will be meatless and oftentimes people don’t even notice. I like to make hearty dishes with a lot of vegetable ingredients and a heavy grain – veggie stir fry over brown rice with delicious sauce, or pasta dishes are great for that. Although any veggies that are too crunchy usually send up red flags, haha.

    My favorite non-dairy milk for drinking or sweet recipes is vanilla coconut milk or vanilla almond milk. For savory recipes I usually use unsweetened plain soy or rice milk (whichever is on sale).

    • Saveur said, on April 19, 2011 at 2:57 PM

      Thanks for the tips, Cassie! I have yet to try any of the vanilla flavours, so I will ave to try one out.. including the coconut milk, which I have seen but never tasted. So far, I prefer the So Good Original for drinking soymilk and Almond Fresh Original for drinking/lattes. :)

  8. Cara said, on April 20, 2011 at 8:12 PM

    I am not a vegetarian, never mind vegan, but I do find myself cooking this way a lot – and of course we really enjoy it! I wouldn’t hesitate to say that some of my best original recipes are vegetarian/vegan. This soup sounds fantastic – I love the carrot in there, I bet it lends a bit of sweetness. And, thanks for the links to some fun new blogs!

  9. [...] I mentioned earlier, I was was a bit hesitant about what I would eat over the holiday weekend while being away from [...]

  10. patricia said, on April 26, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Been vegan just over a year. Makes me feel like I’m “living my life like it’s golden.” (line from a Jill Scott song). In just 10 months my cholesterol dropped 28 points.

    Easter dinner: black beans, with roasted red bell pepper, guacamole, mango salsa, saffron brown rice, and a huge salad of mixed baby greens, grilled asparagus, red and yellow beets all tossed in a blueberry vinaigrette dressing. Delicious and beautiful on my plate.

    The lentil soup looks delicious. I will definitely try.

    • Saveur said, on April 26, 2011 at 12:37 PM

      Invite me over for Easter next year, Patricia. That sounds like a wonderful feast. :)

  11. Ashley said, on June 8, 2011 at 12:17 AM

    I can never resist a lentil soup!!

  12. [...] seem to have an affinity for lentils and carrots, and this soup did not disappoint even though it was a minor component. I don’t often [...]

  13. [...] Red Lentil and Lemon Soup [...]

  14. [...] I have made some really delicious red lentil soups, mostly with lemon (lemon+cumin+cilantro=fantastic), I was still intrigued by Deborah Madison’s Red Lentil Soup with Spinach and Lime [...]

  15. [...] Mango BBQ Beans Pumpkin Chili Red Lentil and Root Veggie Dal Red Lentil and Lemon Soup [...]

  16. Vienna said, on January 10, 2013 at 7:43 PM

    This soup was amazing! I also happened to have some cilantro-lime brown rice leftover, so I served these lentils with it and that pushed things over the top!


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