Red Lentil Soup Recipe

A single-pot lentil soup with brown rice. Made by browning some onions, adding the rest of the ingredients, and simmering until the whole lot until its done.

Red Lentil Soup

I tend to follow the sun around the house each day. From room to room, not unlike a cat. I like how it warms cushions on the couch in the morning, streams into my breakfast bowl at the kitchen counter not long after that, and then beckons me to the office through our west-facing window later in the afternoon. On particularly nice days I like to take my lunch out onto the back porch, settle into one of the mossy, rain-damaged chairs, close my eyes, and let the sun shine through my eyelids for a minute or two. And well, that was the plan when I made myself a pot of this unassuming (but tasty!) red lentil and brown rice soup last weekend. Then, bowl in hand, I opened the back door and walked straight into a four foot spider web.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

It is spider season here, and if you forget, you pay. I can't count how many times I've walked into spider webs in our back yard. It freaks me out every. single. time. In part because the spiders that live in those webs are so large. Too large to smash with a paper towel large - not that I'm in the spider smashing business. I find the ones with the bulbous golden-yellow bodies particularly alarming.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Without going too far down the spider track here, I'll just say, my outdoor lunch quickly became an indoor one after I counted five spiders, webs in full span, within a ten foot radius of my desired lunch spot.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Spiders aside, I thought this soup was good enough to share. It's a single-pot soup made by browning some onions, adding the rest of the ingredients, and cooking the whole lot until its done - however long that takes. The rice is the component that takes longest to cook, and mine was tender in about 25 minutes. I topped each bowl with what I had on-hand at the time: toasted almond slices, some crumbled feta, and a few oil-cured olives that I chopped into little black flecks.

I used red lentils, but as you can see in the photo, the soup is actually more yellow-orange than red. Red lentils (unlike black lentils, or lentils du Puy, or yellow split peas) collapse and lose structure quite quickly - and in this case they shift color a bit. Don't let that throw you. And it's actually the rice that retains it's texture here, while the lentils provide the body for the soup. So don't be alarmed when your lentils stop looking like lentils after about ten minutes in the pot.

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Red Lentil Soup Recipe

Be sure to pick through your lentils carefully. I somehow always find pebbles or clots of dirt hiding in their midst. Better to catch them on the front end, before you chip a tooth. And to make this soup vegan, just skip the feta at the end i bet some chopped avocado would be a good alternative.

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 onion, chopped
3 shallots, chopped
1/2 teaspoon red-pepper flakes

6 cups good-tasting vegetable stock (or water)
1 1/3 cup red lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice, picked over and rinsed
as much fine grain sea salt as you need

slivered almonds, toasted
black oil cured olives, chopped
feta, crumbled

In a big soup pot, over medium heat, combine the olive oil, onion, shallots, and red pepper flakes. Let them brown, and caramelize a bit, stirring occasionally.

Stir in the broth, bring to a boil, then stir in the lentils and rice. Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the rice is very tender, and not at all toothsome. By this time, the lentils will have collapsed into a thick slop of sorts. If you need to add more water/broth at any point do so a splash at a time, until the soup thins out to the point you prefer.

Unless you used a salty broth, you will likely need to salt generously, until the the soup no longer tastes flat. Serve each bowl topped with almonds, olives, feta, and a slight drizzle of olive oil if you like.

Serves 4 - 6.

Prep time: 10 minutes - Cook time: 30 minutes

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!

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What a pleasant notion - being able to follow the sun around your apartment all day, and enjoy a bowl of soup in your backyard, spiders or not. I need to figure out a way to do that, instead of sitting at a cubicle five days a week. Beautiful soup, and I too think avocado would be great with it.

Allison Arevalo

Hi Heidi, Do you think this would work well with barley? I have a feeling it would need to cook longer, and I'm wondering if I will end up overcooking everything else. Thanks! HS: I might try a pearled barley first, and then try whole barley next if the pearled barley version was promising.


i didn't know there was a spiderweb season -- i'd probably travel a lot during that time of year! ;) i'm housesitting for some friends for the next week and although their house (and dogs) is lovely and comfortable, their kitchen is aweful! so a nice simple recipe like this will work fantastically! thanks!


I just made a lentil soup last night, and a splash of balsamic vinegar or lemon juice at the last minute gives it a wonderful refreshing flavor. I was surprised at how "meaty" the lentil/barley mixture tasted, especially with some stewed tomatoes added. I'll be trying the red lentils next!


Thanks, Heidi. This sounds like a wonderful and easy soup recipe. I have been collecting soup recipes this week in preparation for the cooler months so your timing is just perfect!


Mmmm lentils! Having recently won my husband over with them, I'm excited to try adding rice. Sounds simple but delicious! BTW, Kansas spiders like to live inside the house, too, which makes lunchtime tricky no matter where you go. Fall is always fun.


I make a red lentil and brown rice soup with coconut milk and rasam masala spices: toasted then freshly ground coriander, cumin, and black mustard seeds, black pepper and red pepper flakes. Plus some freshly grated ginger. Topped with some yogurt, chopped cashews and grated coconut. Comfort food with just a little kick!


Hi Heidi, I love lentils and this soup sounds wonderful! As for the spider, I have to admit we have a little one on our back porch that has become a pet. We moved his web when it was too close to our swing but now "Monty," as we call him, has created a home in one corner. Well, thanks for the great Fall soup idea. I will add a few sweet baby carrots.


Well I for one love the spider and web photos... I am a huge fan of spiders and all of the bugs they eat! Thanks for sharing those. And then, the soup... it sounds fantastic. Thank you! -Michaela

The Gardener's Eden

I CANNOT WAIT to make this soup. We have a jar full of red lentils on the shelf begging for something like this. The initial plan was to use them for Daal, but I think we'll try this delicious sounding treat! Thanks!!


Aside from the spider, this looks delicious! I'll have to persuade my roommate that lentil soup is what the body needs for serious house cleaning tonight!


Hi Heidi, My comment is about spiders. The beautiful one you have pictured is a wonderful garden spider that helps to keep down pests. That said, I have these spiders in my yard and one day I went outside to find a large, well made web draped from my favorite outdoor chair to the fence, with a spider perched upon it. I complimented the spider on the beauty and workmanship of the web, but explained that it was in a bad spot because it had been built where I liked to sit. The next day when I went out side, all traces of the web were gone and never rebuilt. Talking with spiders has been the most effective way for me to control their populations in my house & garden.


Ah yes...when it started raining a few days ago, my girlfriend was like "oh god, here come the spiders...". We feel your pain!

Megan Gordon

I made my first red lentil soup on Monday and was shocked to see my beans turn into a mush. Then I learned why. Still good though, and now I have a go to bean for a quick soup I want to puree. I like the spider.

Spider season here in the mountains of central Idaho. I keep finding the fast black jumpers in the house. I have a fondness for the stripy one in your picture. I call em cat spiders. For some reason these ones fascinate me, maybe their size! I love your website and have referred many friends here. I'm never disappointed with the recipes. Thank you for your efforts, your beautiful photos and writing.


Love this recipe Heidi! So simple, so delicious! I can't wait to try it! This is such a perfect season for soups!


I make a very similar dish about once a week in the winter. It's so easy and it really hits the spot!

Christa Downey

Oh you make me laugh. I was just thinking I should post a word about the spiders and webs today too as I gazed outside my rain drenched window. A stay at home day, I was sipping coffee and contemplating my one day off work when I re focused my gaze outside and saw this HUGE spider. I thot...hmmmm.....Glad I didn't step outside. I love your soup...make something so similar and it is the time of year for warm simplicity!


I hate spiders too! I always fret about spiders when I go walking in the woods... But the red lentil soup is definitely a Fall must :)


Heidi, The spider pictures give me the creeps! haha! The soup looks delicious though, and I happen to have a canister full of lentils just waiting for a delicious recipe like this. I know what I'll be making this weekend.


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