It doesn’t get much easier than this lentil soup recipe. I learned this recipe from my mother who made it especially during lent, but also any time we had a craving for lentil soup. One of her favorite idioms is that less or simple is often more when it comes to cooking. That’s especially true with this recipe.
The lentils shine as the star due to the relatively few ingredients. The red or yellow lentils work perfectly for this type of pureed soup because they naturally get tender enough to fall apart when boiled. This lentil soup doesn’t even need thickeners because the the lentils thicken naturally when pureed.
The cumin adds an earthy, smoky depth to the lentil soup that compliments the inherent flavors. Those two simple ingredients (along with onion for sweetness) yield the base of a comfort food dish enjoyed by many cultures ranging from Egypt to the Mediterranean to India.
I say “base” because any home chef can embellish the recipe with other additions such as carrots for sweetness, a little yogurt for richness, or even a squeeze of lime for acid. While versatile, this simple vegan-friendly version of the soup doesn’t need augmentation to achieve greatness.
The lentil soup may contain a good amount of protein, fiber, and complex carbohydrates, but that never stopped an Egyptian from adding more! Try the soup served over crispy, toasted pita bread or white rice!
If you love lentils or have never tried them before, this dish is a great way to incorporate this delicious legume into every day meals.
Egyptian Yellow Lentil Soup
- 2 cups yellow or red lentils
- 6 cups water
- 1 large sweet onion
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tbsp crushed/powdered cumin (If you're sensitive to cumin, try 1/2 a tablespoon and add more to taste. If you are crushing your own cumin from whole seeds, then use 1/2 the amount to start.)
- 2 tsp kosher salt (Add more or less to taste.)
- Medium size pot
- Cutting board
- Small frying pan
- Hand blender
- Add 6 cups of water to a medium or large pot along with the two cups of red or yellow lentils. You can always add an extra 1/2 cup if the soup is thicker than you'd like.
- Bring the water and lentils up to a boil and then reduce to a low simmer.
- After about 20 to 30 minutes and the lentils are very soft, turn off the heat and cover the pot.
- Chop a large sweet onion and set it aside.
- In a large pan add a tablespoon of vegetable oil and set the stove to medium heat to get the pan warm.
- Add the onions to the pan with the vegetable oil in it once the oil is warm and saute the onions until they are translucent.
- Add a tablespoon of crushed cumin to the onions and mix all together. You can add more or less cumin depending on how you like it. If you are crushing your own cumin from whole seeds, then use 1/2 a tablespoon to start just in case the spices are strong.
- Once well mixed and heated throughout, add the onion and cumin mixture to the pot of lentils.
- Add two teaspoons of kosher salt to the lentils. Add more salt to taste.
- Use a hand blender to puree the lentils and onions until smooth.
- Serve the lentil soup plain, with a side of crusty bread, over rice, or over toasted pita bread.
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