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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I'm cooking in a temporary kitchen on a one burner campstove while my kitchen undergoes major reconstruction. This soup is just the thing to get me through the weekend. Yum.


yum! i bet a t-spoon of cumin will do some good to it also :) i love this soup and i usually make it this way but with some celery and cumin... YUM! thanks for reminding me!


I made this today for lunch and it was a hit with kid & adults. I used organic chicken stock because it is what I had... and toasted pine nuts instead of the almonds. It was a bit spicy because I used 1/2 tsp of dried chillis instead of pepper flakes but we loved it. Wonderful combination of flavours and great texture. Thanks!


We have some big spiders lurking in our backyard. Bumping into the spider webs when I'm out doing the gardening creeps me out too! (gives me a shiver just thinking about it) For a moment, I thought you might suggest a lentil recipe with spiders for some extra texture and protein? Now that's a horrifying thought ... lol I love red lentils, and the feta combination sounds delicious. I think I'll add the avocado too! Thanks, Denise

Family Cookbook

Heidi, This looks yummy AND easy! My favorite kind of recipe. Any recommendation for a good pre-made veggie stock? Thanks! Steph


I love that so many of you know about this type of spider. You're right about their webs being beautiful, and I can testify that yes, they are quite efficient bug catchers. Some of them are catching bugs larger than they are, and it is fascinating to watch. And yes! I've seen them eating their webs as well. After the storm last week, they were all working hard to restring their webs. I'm definitely not as squeemish about them now that you've told me a bit more about who they are. So thanks for that. :)


I love golden orb season! For us on the chilly East coast, it's usually August. We refer to ours as "the girls" & usually have about four big webs on our front porch each year, cleverly strung just outside the reach of our door and above our heads. Can't wait to make some red lentil soup to battle this dismal fall weekend! I love your blog... :)


I made this soup last night and topped it with some sauteed honey mushrooms foraged from the woods near my house. Really great!


Heidi, Last night I made a variation of Anna Thomas's Squash and Red Lentil soup, which I was reminded of when I checked 101 Cookbooks this morning! So very delicious, and I'm sure yours is too! Just wanted to let you know I got Anna Thomas's Love Soup because of your site. I am so in love it's not even funny! I live in Pennsylvania and it is definitely soup season! I have quite a collection of stand by soups, but I was looking for something new and substantial. I feel Anna's have the depth and breadth to really bring diversity to the art of soup as I had known it. Thank you for writing her up! Also thanks for all the love you put into your site! I know that my family and I eat from your blog, or are inspired by it, on a weekly basis! It's so nice to have a simple approach, (that still tastes like a home cooked meal), to healthy vegetarian that is not simply stir fry or something that takes 3 or 4 hours to complete. I recommend your site to friends, and they are always pleased. Thanks again for all you do, it is appreciated!

Alice Louise

If you worry about the loss of colour when red lentils are used in the soup, add a roasted red pepper before you puree it. HS: Great idea.


The red lentil soup is one of the best comfort food I can think of! Not to share with spiders, though (but the one in the pic looks nice!)


Hi Heidi, You are looking so nice and your soup is also very nice. thanks you. Israt


I follow your site and have made quite a few recipes from your site. This is the first time commenting on it. Excellent recipe adding the brown rice. Definitely going to try it this weekend. I have never made lentil soup with brown rice added to it. I make lots of Indian spiced lentil recipes with all kinds of lentils. I am impressed with your recipes - healthy, tasty and nutritious. I love pancakes and have made quite a few recipes from your blog and your cookbook. Thanks Sanjay


Heidi, Thanks for sharing your recent spider encounter. I've forgotten how spidery the bay area can get. Last year, when we were living in Marin, which felt like the spider capital of the world, my husband got into his car headed for work when a spider that looked similar to the one you photographed strew down towards his lap, and he responded by violently waving his arms in a circle to rid the spider. It was a freak out of sorts. The neighbor caught a glance, and quickly averted his gaze when my husband saw he was being watched. My husband rolled down the window to release the spider, and casually informed the neighbor, "Bad day in the stock market." LOL! Thank you for sharing such a healthy and simple recipe. I'm always looking for new ways to incorporate lentils into my meals. Best, Christine


Red lentils caught my eye in the bulk/bin aisle months ago and have been "waiting for a sign" to make them. The weather has just turned cold and rainy here in Richmond, Va, dampening my small birthday plans for a morning 10K and lunch with friends. Now, I will have a wonderful soup to warm us all up with! Thank you Heidi!


Tis the season for creepies and crawlies, aint it? But you have to learn to love those crazy webweavers for the Green Insect control they do. I really wish folks would learn to appreciate and not fear garden spiders and pollinating bees. We really really REALLY need these creatures to have a healthy eco system to support the production of all those delicious Organic fruits and vegetables we all crave in Heidi's recipes!!! FEAR NO (garden) SPIDEY!!!!!! And Love your Lentils as yourself! (I paraphrase) :>)


Have you tried Turkish Ezo Gelin soup? Very similar to your recipe, but with bulgar instead of brown rice, and with a bit of tomato paste, dried mint and red pepper flakes. It's a classic Turkish dish. Ayla Algar has a tasty version in Classical Turkish Cooking. Made it today when I woke up to snow... HS: Sounds absolutely delicious.


A comment from an Ethiopian friend of mine who cooks red lentils regularly: they take longer to cook if you add the salt early. She recommends putting salt only at the end. She makes a red lentil stew by sauteing onions, garlic and a red chili spice similar to cayenne pepper, fries the lentils in the mix for a minute or two, adds water, and simmers until tender. At the end, she adds a little tomato sauce and salt, and it is unbelievably good.


Yum. This reminds me of the mujadarah that I often make. The differences, I guess, are that 1) I've made it with regular brown lentils 2) You just cook the lentils and rice together with enough liquid to absorb, not making it soupy and you caramelize/almost-burn sliced onions in a separate pan. Once the rice and lentils are done, you mix a portion of the onions in and then you top with more of the onions and some plain yogurt or sour cream. Also you season with salt and pepper. It's so simple and wholesome. It's one of my favorites. I'll look forward to trying this one, too.


Heidi, thanks for this lovely, mellow recipe. I am always looking for another way to utilize my favorite oil-cured olives. This looks divine!

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