This easy Spicy Lentil Soup recipe is a filling, flavorful, vegetarian soup recipe with simple spices – and you control the heat. Squeeze a lemon wedge over each bowl to add fresh brightness!

a blended soup made of red lentils and vegetables, in a white bowl


Easy Red Lentil Soup Recipe

This spicy red lentil soup recipe is based on the first bowl of lentil soup I ever had, while traveling in Cairo, Egypt with my sister. She kept urging me to try it and I did, despite initial thoughts that it sounded bland and boring.

I was so surprised! The soup was extremely flavorful, beautifully balanced with earthy, spicy flavor. And the squeeze of fresh lemon over the top was bright and tangy, the perfect contrast.

After we got back home, it didn’t take long for me to come up with my own spicy lentil soup recipe. With those flavors of Egypt still fresh in my memory, this easy lentil soup recipe turned into a fantastic way to relive a great lunch from that sunny street-side cafe.

a white pot of lentil soup with a wooden ladle

Why This Is The Best Lentil Soup Recipe

  • Vegetarian. The lentil soup recipe is a wonderful one to have on hand when entertaining for vegetarian friends and family. If you skip the Greek yogurt, it’s vegan too!
  • Easy to make. The only hands-on steps of making this soup are quicky sauteing the veggies and using the immersion blender. Otherwise, it’s just a matter of waiting while it simmers on the stove.
  • Flavor-packed. This lentil soup is packed with earthy and spicy flavors, thanks to a handful of herbs and ingredients like onion and garlic.
  • Makes great leftovers. This soup stores very well and will last in the fridge for up to 5 days. I love enjoying the leftovers for lunch throughout the week.

For more vegetarian soup recipes, check out my creamy potato soup, broccoli cheddar soup, minestrone soup, and savory squash soup recipes too.

ingredients to make lentil soup

Recipe Ingredients

This soup is layered with different flavors, from fresh vegetables to earthy lentils to a handful of simple spices. Here’s what you’ll need. (Be sure to check out the recipe card below for full measurements.)

  • Fresh produce: onion, celery, carrot, garlic, potato, lemon
  • Spices: cumin, paprika, ancho chili powder, cayenne pepper, turmeric, salt & pepper
  • Pantry items: red lentils, vegetable broth, olive oil
  • Optional garnish: plain Greek yogurt, cilantro
red lentils

What Lentils Should I Use?

This easy lentil soup recipe uses red lentils (shown above), which are an orangish-red color. You could also use green, brown, or yellow lentils, just know that the overall coloring of the soup will change.

Red lentils are also called “split red lentils” or “Egyptian lentils”. Because their seed coat has been removed, they cook very quickly (in only 10 minutes!) and become very soft and mushy. These qualities make them PERFECT for blended soups such as this one.

How to Make Lentil Soup

This spicy lentil soup recipe is one of those dishes I truly enjoying making. The veggies, the spices, the comfort. Simmering a big pot of soup on the stovetop is one of the best things in life.

  • Cook the veggies. Heat the oil over medium heat. Cook the onion, celery, and carrot for 8 minutes then stir in the garlic and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Add the other ingredients. Add the potato, lentils, and broth and bring the soup to a boil. Reduce the heat and stir in the seasonings.
  • Simmer. Cover the lentil soup and simmer for 40 to 50 minutes, until the vegetables are tender.
  • Puree. Use an immersion blender to puree the soup in the pot until smooth. Stir in the lemon juice then taste test and add salt and pepper as needed.
  • Enjoy. Ladle into bowls and serve with fresh lemon wedges.
a ladle full of lentil soup

Serving Suggestions

When I ate lentil soup in Egypt, the only garnish was a fresh lemon wedge to squeeze over the top of my bowl.

When I make this at home, I like to also offer some plain Greek yogurt, chopped cilantro, and additional cayenne. The yogurt is a wonderful, tangy contrast to the spices in the soup. Plus, it adds a bit of creamy texture. Cilantro adds just a hint of uncooked fresh green flavor and the sprinkle of cayenne is great for those individuals who just can’t get enough heat!

And the lemon. Do not forget the lemon wedges! Squeeze a wedge over the top of your bowl right before eating, and you’ll thank me forever. This adds bright, fresh flavor – and I insist that you include it!

Also offer some warm pitas or flatbread for dipping. It’s another great option when serving this lentil soup. Because, really, who doesn’t like a soft bread for soup-dipping?!

And if you like to serve soup-and-salad meals, check out my Fattoush Salad and Tabbouleh Salad. Both are loaded with fresh flavor. And both nod to the Middle East. This Herby Lemon Vinaigrette would be lovely, too. Just serve it with some fresh tender greens!

red lentil soup in white bowls

Proper Storage

  • Fridge. Store leftover red lentil soup in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days.
  • Freezer. You can also freeze for up to 3 months. Just allow to cool then transfer to a freezer-safe container.
  • Reheat. Reheat your spicy lentil soup gently on the stovetop or in the microwave.
a hand dipping a torn piece of pita into bowl of soup

More Easy Soup Recipes

spicy lentil soup in a white bowl

Spicy Lentil Soup

Yield: 8 servings
prep time: 15 minutes
cook time: 50 minutes
total time: 1 hour 5 minutes
This easy Spicy Lentil Soup is a filling, flavorful, vegetarian soup recipe with simple spices – and you control the heat. A squeeze of lemon adds brightness to each bowl!
4.8 Stars (13 Reviews)


  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion diced
  • 1 large celery rib diced
  • 1 large carrot diced
  • 4 large garlic cloves minced
  • 1 large baking potato peeled and chopped into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1.5 cups red lentils
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon ancho chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper add more or less, depending on your heat preference
  • ¼ teaspoon turmeric
  • 2 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice plus additional lemon slices for squeezing over the top of finished soup
  • kosher salt as needed
  • plain Greek yogurt optional garnish
  • chopped cilantro optional garnish


  • Heat a large saucepan or small stockpot over medium to medium-high heat. Once hot, add the oil. When oil starts to shimmer, stir in the onion, celery, and carrot. Cook for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in garlic and cook for 2 minutes more, stirring occasionally. Add the potato, lentils, and vegetable broth. Turn up heat to medium-high and bring to a boil. Then turn heat down to medium-low and stir in cumin, ancho chili powder, black pepper, cayenne pepper, and turmeric. Cover and simmer until all the vegetables are very tender, about 40 to 50 minutes.
  • Using an immersion blender, carefully puree the soup right in the pot, until no chunks of vegetables remain. Or carefully transfer hot soup, in batches, to a blender to blend until smooth – and then return the soup back to the pot. Stir in lemon juice. Taste test and season with salt, if needed.  
  • To serve, ladle hot soup into individual bowls and serve with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze over the top. If desired, offer plain Greek yogurt and chopped cilantro for added flavors, plus warm pitas or flatbread for dipping.


From a farmgirl’s dabbles, inspired by a spicy lentil soup I enjoyed in Cairo, Egypt.

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 147kcal Carbohydrates: 23g Protein: 6g Fat: 4g Saturated Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 3g Cholesterol: 2mg Sodium: 884mg Fiber: 5g Sugar: 4g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!

Like this soup recipe? Save it to Pinterest!

Pinterest image for lentil soup

I originally published this post in 2011, and then updated it in 2021 with new photos and some new text.

Would you like to see where we went after our bowl of lentil soup? Just keep reading!

two men carrying their daughters on their backs

This is how we traveled. See my niece on the right side, on my brother in-law Dave’s shoulders? I call it the Egyptian Piggyback.

I loved watching the Egyptian women carrying their children this way, with both legs over only one shoulder. Unlike our daughter on the left, with both legs wrapped around Blake’s neck.

the entrance to the Khan market

The Khan

We were on our way to the Khan El Khalili, or simply, the Khan (market).

Established in the 14th century, this ancient market was a major hub for overland trade caravans from east to west. The arch shown above is an entrance to Wakalat El-Ghouri, built in 1504 as a caravansaray, an inn for global merchants doing business at the market.

a street in the market

In the Cairo of today, the Khan caters to backpacking tourists and local Egyptians alike. It was one of my favorite places for people watching and taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of life in this chaotically magnificent city.

a girl standing in the market

The canvas covered streets and narrow alleys snake in and out, showcasing a wide variety of Egyptian wares.  

There’s jewelry of fine gold and silver, a variety of pottery, copper items, perfume and incense, alabaster, and no shortage of kitschy souvenirs. If you like to haggle, this is the spot for you!

Haggling is completely not my thing, though, so I was happy to have my sister at our side, who frequents the market and has befriended some of the shop owners. And she can haggle in Arabic. Very, very useful!

a clothing store

We saw clothing ranging from American jeans to traditional galabayas…

beaded costumes

to ornately beaded dance costumes that are so much a part of Egyptian custom.

a stand selling metal lamps

My eyes feasted on beautiful metal lamps while I imagined where one might hang in our own home. And then I questioned how to fit one into our baggage…

a stand selling spices

We saw many scenes such as this across the city of Cairo. Bountiful burlaps of herbs and spices for sale.

In the Middle Ages, spices originating in the East were traded through Cairo to the Europeans.

a stand selling different glasswares

Our Favorite Stop

This stall was our favorite stop. Colorful recycled glass lamps, vases, and beads filled this small shop.

flower shaped glass beads

The brilliant flower-shaped beads mesmerized our young daughters. Hatti and Tessa ran their hands through the vibrant colors, listening to them clinking against each other.

a man putting a necklace on a girl

They made necklaces for us, plus a few to take back home for gifts.

a girl wearing a blue and green flower necklace
a girl wearing a necklace
a young boy selling pastries

And then, all too soon, our day of exploration came to an end. But not before this boy’s sweet smile + gorgeous date and spice filled pastries stole my sister’s heart.

I love to eat what the locals eat. It adds LIFE to the whole experience. And so we happily munched on our just-baked pastries as we headed out of the market.

shawarma stand in egypt

Egyptian Lentil Soup Experience

Part of my hesitation with ordering the lentil soup in Egypt was that all I reeeeeeally wanted was some of that tantalizing shawarma, cut fresh from the hot rotating spit.

But Cheryl convinced me to just order both. My sister’s smart like that.

a bowl of lentil soup, shawarma, and a glass of strawberry juice

So that’s exactly what I did. One small bowl of lentil soup, a soft pita stuffed with shawarma, and a glass of fresh strawberry juice, please!

That lunch is one that still stands out in vacation food memories. It was WONDERFUL.

If you’d like to see more from our adventures in Egypt, go here and here.