Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon Recipe

A couple of you eagle-eyed observers mailed me about the bowl of soup pictured in the last photo at the bottom of the this post. It's worth asking about, so I thought I'd share it this week. The soup in the photo was a variation of Deborah Madison's Red Lentil Soup with Lime from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone. What you see up above is a lemon version of the soup I cooked to go with the lemon chutney & goat cheese toasts in that Roasted Lemon Chutney post.

Before we go further with the soup, I also wanted mention that I got a sad email from my dad last Friday. It was short, directed to a short list of friends and family, and simply said, "I am sad today since I had to put down my 18 yr old kitty. He was such a great pet. It was brutal being with him as he slipped away while I stood over him telling him how much we were going to miss him." My heart broke, not just because I'll miss a cat that has been part of our family since my sister and I were teenagers, but because I know how much my dad will miss him and their little daily rituals. Dre "talked" a lot, loved to be brushed outside in the sunshine, survived numerous tangles with foxes and other California wildlife, and enjoyed home-cooked meals (as he got older) courtesy of my father. I think it is fair to say he was the most-loved cat in the neighborhood and would greet passing joggers, walkers, and other pets with perked ears, a fluffy tail, and a desire to act as a personal escort from one edge of the property to the mailbox on the other side.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

He was as sweet as he looks there. He really was. We love you Dre.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

A couple notes related to the soup - to make things simple, this is the sort of thing to make when you already have leftover rice, farro, etc. Because this soup has a number of components, starting with leftover rice helps keep one less pot on the burners. Deborah's version is a bit more brothy than this one straight out of the gate. I use a bit less water to start with, which allows me to thin it to my liking later on in the process. Also, while the recipe calls for spinach, other greens work well - sauteed kale, chard, etc. Leftovers are excellent and it freezes well (keep the yogurt separate from any soup you think you might want to freeze).

Red Lentil Soup with Lemon

2 cups / 14 oz / 400 g split red lentils, picked over and rinsed well
1 tablespoon turmeric
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
fine grain sea salt
1 large onion / ~ 2 cups, diced
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
1 cup chopped cilantro
Juice of three lemons, or to taste
1 large bunch of spinach leaves, chopped

plenty of cooked (warm) brown rice, to serve
plenty of plain Greek yogurt, to serve

Put the lentils in a pot with 7 cups / 1.6 l water, the turmeric, 1 tablespoon of the butter, and 2 teaspoons salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart - twenty minutes or so. Puree with a hand blender. Add more water until the soup is the consistency you like, then taste and add more salt if needed. Keep the soup warm/hot.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the onion. In a skillet over low heat cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the remaining butter along with the cumin and mustard seeds, stirring occasionally. When the onions have softened, roughly 10 or 15 minutes, add the cilantro and cook for a few seconds before removing from the heat. Add the onion mixture to the soup, then add the juice of the lemons, one lemon at a time - until the soup has a nice bit of tang. Also, add more salt to taste at this point if needed.

Just before serving, add the last of the butter to the skillet, when hot add the spinach and a good pinch of salt. Stir well, and cook just long enough for the spinach to collapse.

Serve by placing a scoop of rice in each bowl, then soup, spinach, and a dollop of yogurt.

Serves 6.

Adapted from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.

Prep time: 5 min - Cook time: 30 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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My deepest sympathies to your family. Dre looks like he was a beautiful cat; he reminds me a lot of my cat, Mr. Noodles, that I lost early last year. So sorry you lost a great feline friend.

Christine in Philadelphia

This soup is exactly what I feel like!
Sorry to hear about your cat... I know that feeling of losing a family pet, it's heart-breaking.


My heart is with your Dad, losing a pet is so very sad. I often look in my little dog's eyes and feel humbled by how much I love her. Pets are such a comfort.

la domestique

So sorry about your Dad's kitty! Sounds like he was a real charmer.

Coco @ Opera Girl Cooks`

This looks like exactly what I've been in the mood for but unable to pinpoint... thanks for sharing it.

And reading that note from your Dad is enough to break anyone's heart... looks like a beautiful cat.


Love red lentils. Lemon makes most everything brighter and tastier.

Sorry about your kitty, sounds like he had a great life.

Laura @ SweetSavoryPlanet

Yum, i love the look of these bowls of soup with yogurt and rice!
I recently enjoyed lemon lentil soup in Istanbul and have been craving it ever since. The spices in this sounds so tasty too.

amy chaplin

I've been very into red lentils lately with curry powder and black mustard seeds. I can't wait to try your version :)

So sorry about your famiy's loss :(


I am so sorry about the dear kitty. The soup looks lovely.

Miriam@Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

I am so sorry for your dad and your family...losing a pet who's been with you for 18 years is like losing a family member. It IS losing a family member. And my heart is heavy for you all. My condolences and ((HUGS))

Averie @ Love Veggies and Yoga

So sorry about your Dad's cat :( My husband's family has 5 cats between them, and I know losing them would be a great loss to all of us. My condolences.

Anjali Shah @ The Picky Eater

So sorry to hear about your dad's lovely kitty :(, pets dying is always sad as they're a member of your family.

Gorgeous recipe as always. I love the creamy texture and addition of brown rice.


Sad days - what a sweet and precious cat. We can have such wonderful connections with our pets and it sounds like this dear cat was no different. I hope those warm memories will stay with all of you, especially your dad.


So sorry to hear about the family cat. This looks like the most perfect comforting bowl of soup ever made.


This looks like a perfect, healthy balancing meal. Sorry about the kitty, he's lovely in the photo.

Adam and Theresa

Oh Heidi, Dre looks so beautiful and it seems as though he lived a wonderful life which is everything we could want for our pets...... pets have such incredible personalities and auras and make such a big impact on our lives don't they?
I am going to give my cat Mimi a cuddle right now.....


This soup sounds amazing. Gonna make it today. However it's a bit heavy on butter...maybe I use some olive oil instead?


This looks fantastic! I'm a big fan of lentil soups, and I've never heard of Deborah Madison before - I'm definitely going to try and find her cookbooks now. If I didn't want to use cilantro, would parsley be a good substitute?

My condolences for Dre - he looks wonderful. I had a similar experience a few years ago and it was really difficult, it's amazing how food can comfort one during those times.

Thanks for a great post Heidi.


Avoca ( have a fantastic red lentil and orange soup which this reminded me of ...


Oh, my favorite china, the old Gröna Anna plate from Rörstrands. And the soup looks fantastic to, might need to try that one very soon!

I huvudet på Elvaelva

Oh Heidi, my heart goes out to you and your family. Dre left pawprints on your hearts, may you be comforted by the memories of him. We have 3 kitties and love them so much.
Wonderful soup, I'm getting hungry looking at your gorgeous picture :)


Your soup recipe is very similar to the daal- chawal (daal means lentil and chawal means rice) we have in North India. And the daal becomes nice and tangy with a twist of a lemon.


I lost my Morgana this past summer, after 18 years of friendship. One day she didin't come back home. She was tired but she never complained and she greeted you with her soft mrr. I live far away from some years now, but everytime I was back to my parents home she was sweet and happy to see my husband and me. A big hug to Dre, may he meet my Morgana somewhere (and let them play together). Cheers Martina


So sorry to hear. What great memories of Dre.

Your soup looks absolutely lovely.

Belinda @zomppa

So sorry to hear about Dre. I can see that your Dad is strong.. I can never imagine how hard it is for him. I won't be ready if I had to lose Pancake (my dog) in the future..


As a mother of three (cats), the youngest 4 months, the middle 4 years and the oldest 18 years old, my heart is breaking for your father (and you). So sorry. Clearly Dre was oh-so-loved and had a lovely life.

Beautiful soup, naturally.

JL goes Vegan

My cat lived for 18½ years too, but wasn't as generally sweet-tempered as Dre (although he was with me). They are definitely family members and it is a very hard thing to lose them.

Your lovely lemon kick continues. :)


I'm always looking for new ways to cook lentils- thanks!

Simply Life

Losing a childhood animal can be so tough. I am so sorry for your loss!! Luckily you have this comforting soup. It looks and sounds wonderful.

Katrina @ Warm Vanilla Sugar

This soup looks amazing. I can't wait to try it out. Thank you for sharing. So sorry to hear about your dads cat. It's such a hard thing to lose a pet. I had a childhood pet for fifteen years and was heart broken when he passed. Sending love your way.


Hi, Heidi. Thinking of you and your sweet Dre. xo.


A) I'm SO sorry about Dre! I know how hard that is.

B) This recipe BA-LOWS my mind. I'm so all over it. And maybe in it.

C) I hope you'll be at BlogHer Food in Seattle next June!

D) That is all. For now.

Bev Weidner

I wish I'd known about the Deborah Madison experimenting! Her book is one of my top 2 books to consult when trying to fling together farmers' market ingredients into a meal, and invariably tasty.
And while sorry for your cat's death, I'm happy that your dad can so reach out to family and *feel* like that. You're a lucky one!


Sorry about Dre. I watched my cat as he slowly went to sleep and it really was heartbreaking. My thoughts go out to your Dad, I'm sure the garden and house feel a little empty. A comforting soup actually sounds just right for him.

Nuts about food

Perfect! I have all the ingredients, including cilantro and kale that desperately need to be used up, plus I've been craving lentil soup. Thanks for the recipe!


Awesome cookbook recipe functionality on your site!!! I just signed up to provide input on my favorite recipes from Madison's book. I've always wanted to compare notes with others regarding recipes in books because sometimes there are mistakes and/or recipes not tested out too well. Anyways, I've dreamed of this for years and I'm so happy you are taking it on. :) Thank you!!!


On October 18th, my parents put to rest our beloved family cat, Andrew. "Drew" was with us for 17 years, so I'm fully aware of the emotions of losing a pet that was yours, but not quite yours anymore. It will be hard for me to go home for Christmas and not feel him in the house anymore. But, he had a great 17 years!


Sorry about your cat. I lost my childhood dog a few years ago, and somehow she ends up in my dreams every once in a while. I love it when she comes to "visit me"
Anyway, soup looks delicious! Can't wait to try another way to spruce up lentils.


So sorry to hear about Dre,
my heart goes out to your Dad.


Nothing is more comforting than soup. Thanks for the reminder to pull out Deborah Madison's books again. I love the way you have picked up her mantle.


My thoughts are with you and your family. This summer, we lost our almost 21 year old cat. I was 12 when we got her. And when I look at my 11 year old cat, I cant imagine how difficult it will be to say goodbye one day.

I will make this soup thinking of Dre :-)


Kitties are so wonderful, and Dre sounds like he had a wonderful life. I'll have to try this soup because it has turmeric, the new super spice. Thanks so much for the inspiration!

Lisa W.

I'm so sorry for your loss, Heidi, your Dad, and family. It is so heartbreaking to lose a beloved member of the family, and pets are such great friends to us. Dre sounded to have a lovely life and I'm sure he loved you all as much as you loved him. Thinking of you all xxx


sorry about the cat :(

lynn @ the actor's diet

So lovely and gluten-free. Perfection, Heidi.
Love it. Are you heading to IFBC this week? Hope to see you there!

The Healthy Apple

Oh, Heidi, I'm so sorry to hear about Dre! He looks like he was a very sweet, beautiful cat that brought all of you much joy. As a mother of 3 cats, 2 of which are 15, I dread the day I'll have to let them go and can completely understand your dad's sorrow. Much love to him and your family.

As far as the soup goes... amazing. Just amazing. It'll be perfect for me to try out when I get back from IFBC this weekend. Lord knows it's chilly enough for some good soup!

Kimberly @ Poor Girl Eats Well

Sorry about your loss...I cherish my kitty, Tot, who looks a lot like your picture of Dre. I would be so devasted to lose him. Your lentil soup looks inviting and reminds me of one I teach in a "comfort" food class and posted about recently. I can't wait to try your lemony version! Thanks.


I am so sorry about Dre! I lost my 17 yr old cat just over a year ago. He was a talker too. It is very difficult when your pet seems like he's almost human. It's like losing a person and hard to get over sometimes.

I do know how you all feel. So sorry. My best.

Allyson Elizabeth D'Angelo

I make almostly exactly this soup every week, and my kids adore it. The only thing that I add to it is 1/2 a finely chopped jalpeno to the onion and spice saute. (This soup is the main reason I always keep jalapenos and a 10 lb bag of red lentils in the house...)
Love cats, mine keep me sane by voluntarily performing incredibly silly tricks!

cLaire maunsell

So sorry about your loss. My dog Lily is the love of my life and I can't imagine a single day without her....My heart goes out to you and your family.

Stephanie King

So sorry about your dad's cat. My sister had to put two beloved pets down within a year of each other, and they are sorely missed. It's not easy.
This looks like good comfort food :)

jeri kim lowe

I am so sorry about your loss. Animals are family. I personally prefer the company of my dog to most humans. No judgement, pure unconditional love.

Paula Jeremias

So sorry about your cat, I don't know how we'd get along without our animal buddies.
Your soup is beautiful, I just love the colors. My husband has taken a sudden liking to lentils, so I'll try this for sure.

Sue/the view from great island

WTF! This looks amazing!!!!


I am experiencing the same thing: our 14-year old Border Collie, Husky, wolf cross died last week, and unique and beautiful girl. We are heartbroken. Please send your dad my best regards. This is a huge loss for all of you, but especially for him.


So sorry for your dad and all of you... losing a beloved kitty stays with you for a long time. I once had a cat for 20 years and still miss her even though I'm on the 3rd cat since her death. It really is like losing a family member... give him a hug from me.


So sorry about your father's (and your) loss. He looked like a very sweet kitty.


I am very empathic. I have an 18 1/2 year old cat and will be totally devastated when that time comes. Your cat was beautiful, loved, had a good life and was one of the lucky ones. While irreplaceable, I hope you all consider a cat from all those out there who need a loving, good, and kind home. But probably not yet. It is so hard and heartbreaking to lose a beloved pet. Give your Dad a hug from all of us animal lovers.


Heidi, my condolances to you and your father for the loss of your cherished companion, Dre. I noticed for several months after my kitty, Friday, went to Kitty Heaven that I was missing his nightly greeting when I came home from work and always trying to avoid stepping on him. It was a difficult and sad time. My nephew, when he was about 6 was overheard talking to someone in the next room while my sister was in the kitchen. Their cat, Sammy, had died several weeks earlier and it was a terrible loss. The family sat with him all night as he quietly passed. When my sister realized he was alone, she asked her son who he was talking to, he replied, "Sammy" in a matter-of-fact way. Knowing that he had some clairvoyant experiences, my sister asked: "what did he say?" "Oh, he said he's fine and misses us and not to worry about him". I'm sure Dre is watching over you all. Lisa in Indianapolis

Lisa M

YUM. I will be making this tonight. Just substituting olive oil for butter because of my stupid cholesterol! But I don't think that will hurt the recipe....

Cathy @ What Would Cathy Eat?

So sorry to hear the news about your Dad and Dre; my heart broke reading your post. Animals are truly special creatures.

On a different note, the soup looks wonderful, and will be a welcome change to the slew of fall soups I have been preparing of late!


There are few things in life more painful that the passing of a beloved pet. I know how your Dad (and you) are feeling today; I really do.


It's so incredibly hard to lose a pet. They're truly never replaceable with another animal. I'm sorry that you and your family are dealing with this :(

Candice @ Sailing on Paper

thanks for the amazing recipe. have
started it for dinner tonite. a windy
day here in Chicago & a perfect soup
day. a hug to your dad on his loss. pets
are such an integral part of the family, aren't
they? so comforting. best to him and to you.


Please offer your dad my sympathies. I had to euthanize my cat in May. She was also 18 and we had her in my family since my son was a teenager.
He;s grown and has his own family now. She was a true companion and I miss her still.


I'm so sorry for your loss Heidi - I hope you draw on good memories...take time and remember.
I love this soup recipe...I also adapted it as it "needed" something to ramp it up.
Soup feeds the soul.
- Natasha


There are few things worse than losing a furry friend. Over the years I have lost a few cats and it is truly something that always hangs on my heart.
It sounds like Dre had one hell of a (great!) life.
Thanks for sharing.

Dina Avila

I am so sorry to hear about your kitty - I was in tears reading your dad's note. Cats are such great companions!

I am living in Bulgaria right now, and it is hard to find red lentils but we were lucky at the market the other day and actually found some, so we will try this recipe next! Thank you!


So sorry to hear about your dad's cat. 18 years is a long time for a pet to be a part of the family, so I'm sure it's difficult!

Thankfully, this soup looks particularly comforting. This time of year it seems I am making soup every other day yet can never get enough - thank you for another wonderful idea for my "to make" list!


I forgot to ask you about substituting the cilantro - what do you think works best? Again, here in Bulgaria, cilantro is not sold as it is not used in our meals.


I teared up so much that I couldn't finish reading your post about dre. You forgot to mention the story about dre finding a comfortable spot in someones camper parked in front of your parents house and your dad having to drive all the way to Reno to retrieve the stowaway!, that's love!!'

Shay curley

So sorry to hear about your cat!!

It's funny, I just made this soup two days ago....but I think I will try it with lemons instead of limes as you made it. The lime is just a bit too tart for me. Thank you for the suggestion.


I'm so sorry about your dad's kitty- having pets or anybody you love in old age is always a bittersweet experience.

I love Deborah Madison's 'Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone', and am really excited to try this version of Red Lentil Soup with Lemon. I've made the same type of soup from Melissa Clark's 'In the Kitchen with A Good Appetite' (a GREAT book) and I absolutely fell in love! Its so filling, and the unexpected flavor of lemon in the soup is delightful, for lack of a better word. Thanks for the great recipe!


So very, very sorry about Dre. Hugs to your Dad. We have a neighborhood ambassador cat, too! Recently, my other (indoor) cat went missing for 2 days (he's back). i was inconsolable with grief, and am so grateful to have him back. My other cat lived to 21 and then it was her time, but it was hard to let her go...The best of friends they are, aren't they?


Cilantro is the leaf of all evil. The rest of the soup sounds divine. I think I will just skip the cilantro and try it anyway. Thanks. :)


I'm sorry to hear about your families cat. The soup sounds delicious, I love adding a little lemon to my lentil soups.


so sorry about your dad's kitty. we had to put down my 18 year old cat 2 years ago and i still miss her on a regular basis.
this soup is a nice warm panacea, i would think, and perfect when mourning a lost loved one. xo

laura @ glutton for nourishment

This soup is amazing. I love your adaptation. So sorry to hear of the loss of a beloved pet.


So sorry about the kitty. Sending good thoughts to your dad. My mom recently put her cat down and it was a sad time in her household as well.


Oh, I'm so sorry your dad lost his sweet kitty. Many hugs from a stranger.


This post really hit home because we've recently found out that our 7 year old dog has lymphoma and a few more months to live. I admire your dad for being there to say goodbye to Dre and I'm searching for the courage to be able to do the same for Sydney. Because that's what our pets deserve from us.


I'm so sorry to hear about your family's loss.

I just lost my childhood cat 2 weeks ago, they really are a part of the family.

the soup looks great btw

Caitlin @ Vegetarian in the City

Thank you for your wonderful recipes - you give as much pleasure as your dads kitten - absolutely essential part of the family -many many thanks and best wishes.

Anne Stevens

Yum! Lentils and lemon, two of my favourites!


oh dear
i had to put down my 18 year old tiger two weeks ago and in beginning in october my beloved old dog
i know how it feels to hold them passing
my best wishes to your dad
lg birgit


Sorry to hear about your cat, difficult to say goodbye. Thanks for the soup recipe, I was looking at it and it reminded me of a soup we make in my country. It is with brown lentils, swisschard, onions, lemon, some use potatoes, coriander and garlic but I don't. I think you would love it. Take two cups of brown small lentils, wash them. In a pressure cooker, fry a yellow onion in some olive oil until slightly brown, add the chopped swisschard, stems and all and fry, add the lentils and water to cover and cook until the lentils are extremely soft. When they are cooked, add the juice of a large lemon and some ground cumin and salt. It is delicious and I hope you try it and it brings you comfort.

sarah daouk

It sounds like Dre enriched the lives of many. Much in the way you do with your lovely blog. Thanks for sharing as you do. Beautiful photo of Dre!


So, so sorry for your family's loss. He seems like a great little guy and was obviously well loved and beautifully taken care of till the end.

Ana Sofia

dre is over the rainbow bridge now, where other well loved companions wait to greet him. deepest sympathies to your family.


So sorry to hear about your cat. He is beautiful! I love my cat like a child. I cant imagine losing her!

On a lighter note i got to Rome today and thought of you as i wandered trastevere. We are using a lot of your suggestions for apps/books. Thanks :) I can really see why you like the trastevere neighborhood.


Another wonderful Deborah Madison red lentil soup -- this one looks like a stunner.


I'm so sorry about the family loss Heidi, here is a little something for your dad....

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge.
When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. His bright eyes are intent. His eager body quivers. Suddenly he begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, his legs carrying him faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....


What a sweet kitty. I know you guys will miss him and my sympathies to your father for the loss of his baby. BTW, the soup sounds excellent and I look forward to making it now that soup weather is here.


Heidi, such a nice essay about your Dad's cat, Dre. You really evoke a potent image about him escorting passersby along the edge of the property. Lovely photo of him, too. May he rest in peace, and your family too, for knowing and loving a charming kitty!

Susan A.

So sorry to hear about the loss of your furr baby-my condolences to your father.

This recipe looks delish! Perfect for today's chilly weather, I'll have to try this one soon!


what a sweet lookin' kitty. i get so sad hearing those stories about older animals passing away who've been part of the family forever. I've had my cat since she was a kitty and that's been almost 13 years - i will be an absolute mess when that time comes for her, and i hope it's years and years away !!

in happier news, the soup sounds excellent. I need another lentil recipe around here :).

heather @ chiknpastry

Oh Heidi! I'm so sad to hear about the loss of Dre. Kitties are the sweetest, and it is so hard to lose a pet; they truly do become part of your family. My condolences to your dad for the loss of his little cat.

Betsy Dunlap

I'm so sorry to hear about your Dad's cat, losing a pet is never easy. As for the food. . .This WILL be made and eaten by myself and my husband, A-SAP! Love it, just like the rest of your recipes.

Lisa [With Style and Grace]

Hi Heidi,
Sorry to hear about the loss, but what a sweet post. Can't wait to try this soup. My partner and I are making Brown Sugar Rosemary Walnuts for Xmas gifts this year (excited:)) - we found cellophane bags, great twine at Paper Source in Berk, but only giant unsavory labels. Where did you get those lovely-sized labels shown in the photo?
Many thx for all the lovely recipes and blogging, Lindsay and Hale


losing a pet is like losing a little happy family member. i know it is so hard and my heart goes out to both of you.

i have a jar of lentils in my pantry waiting to be used up and this looks great!

i went to click on the link for where several people had been cooking from Madison's book, but it just took me to the library part of your site. is it supposed to go somewhere else?


Good old daal-chawal in Western dress :) It's the ultimate comfort food for us Indians. We would put a big blob of butter or ghee on top. Believe me, yoghurt is a poor substitute.


This reminds me of a soup in a wonderful book I just read. I have read a lot of novels that include recipes as part of the story, and I like them all, but the most recent one I read really stood out.

It is called "Pomegranate Soup" by Marsha Mehran.

'Marjan', the woman in the novel, is Persian and was living in Iran before the revolution and war torn times, but escaped to Ireland where she set up a little foodie heaven called "The Babylon Cafe". Marsha includes recipes that Marjan cooks in each chapter of the book, including 'Dolmeh' (vine leaves), 'Elephant Ears' (sweet pastries spiced with cardamom and cinnamon), 'Red Lentil Soup' (a lovely recipe), and 'Pomegranate Soup' (a delicious and bright spring recipe). Thought you might like the book.

Rachel Melrose

Hi Heide,
Sweet Dre... I'm sorry for your family's loss. What a cute, fuzzy cat whose picture is now making us all smile. The soup recipe will be tried when this cold front comes in this weekend in NY.



I'm so sorry to hear about Dre and for the loss your family has encountered. It truly is the loss of a family member. Being there when your pet is put down is impossibly hard, but there is no other way but to be there and stroke them as they drift off. Please tell your dad and family how sorry we are! Thank you for letting us in and sharing what a great guy Mr Dre was and for telling us about how much joy he brought to the world.


Linda NYC

so sorry about the kitty.
it's a rough transition to soup talk, but i just made this for lentil soup for dinner and it's delicious. i used green lentils instead of red, but it's still beautiful and tasty. also, i added some other veggies to the onions (because i had them--cauliflower and some small potatoes). the lemon makes it so tangy!! we are new vegans and you have made the transition so much fun and delicious!


So sorry for your family loss, I don't know what we will do when our dog is not around anymore. Some pets are real family members, you can get so fond of them. No matter how many times you hear it, some of us are fortunate enough to know how true that is.
About the recipe, all I can find aroud here are brown lentils, I don't know if there is difference in the flavor, do you think I could substitute?
Thanks for such a nice recipe, just when days are getting cooler, soup is so good.


My condolences on the loss of your kitty. I lost my cat (she was 18) years ago, and I cried my eyes out. I don't know what I would do if something happened to my two furry babies. :(


OHHHHHH, so sorry to hear about Dre. I just had to put one of my kitties to sleep and it just takes so long to come to grips with it. Please give my regards to your dad from me.

Susan McKee-Nugent

Thank You! One day, while shopping hungry (always a mistake) at our local co-op, they had delicious Lemon Lentil soup at their fresh bar, so I grabbed a cup. It was great, and I have been meaning to make an attempt at replicating it. Now I don't have to! They used sorrel for the greens, but not that is not easy to get, unless you grow it.


I am sorry about the family member (that's what they are, after all). But, a bit thank you for the recipe. One day, while shopping hungry (always a mistake) at our local co-op, they had delicious Lemon Lentil soup at their fresh bar, so I grabbed a cup. It was great, and I have been meaning to make an attempt at replicating it. Now I don't have to! They used sorrel for the greens, but not that is not easy to get, unless you grow it.


I am so sorry for you and your father... I hope my little Gini will have a life as long and as blessed as Dre.


This looks like a perfect, healthy balancing meal.Good working.


I feel so sad for your dad reading this Heidi.. *hugs to you both*


Heidi - I'm so sorry to hear about Dre, it breaks my heart too. Thinking of him, you and all your family. xxx


So sorry about your kitty. We lost our yellow cat a couple of years ago after 20 years. He had been with us since I was three. My mom would cook for him in the last few years too.


Heidi, I have become such a devoted fan of your recipes. Have been reading (and cooking from) your site & books for quite some time now, but only recently find myself situated on an island off of the coast of Hong Kong with only a few (very few) small markets & limited supplies. But, somehow, again and again this month, I have been able to recreate your meals and my family has been overjoyed to have a change from stir fry (which is, of course, the easiest thing to do with what's available). This soup was just wonderful, even with local greens instead of spinach. Many thanks!


I'm so sorry to hear about Dre. Hugs for your dad and all of you. It's always hard to lose a pet but when they've been with you for years and years, well, it's really rough.


So sorry to hear about your loss; I can imagine how dear Dre must have been..
Your soup looks wonderful and delicious, a meal of its own!
Lentils are a big part of Turkish cuisine too and I posted the spicy lentil and bulgur soup with lemon in my blog, another really hearty, soul warming soup.
Many thanks for sharing yours:)

Ozlem Warren

I'm so very sorry and saddened to hear about the loss of your family's beloved kitty. It made me so sad to read, as I can completely relate to the heart-wrenching experience of losing an ailing cat that was more like my little girl than a mere pet (our kitty had just hit her 16th birthday when she died of kidney failure - that we'd been working hard to treat - and hyperthyroidism).

I hope warm soup and many wonderful memories of Dre will help to ease your grief. Thanks for posting such a delicious-looking soul-warming soup recipe on the heels of your news... I'm definitely going to be giving this one a try.


Awww... I am so sorry about your dad's kitty :( I am a cat person too, and these things are always so hard.

On a separate note, I can't wait to try this soup. Your soups are always winners with me (and with my husband, who's normally a Montana-born, meat and potatoes kind of guy, but he loves everything that I've made from your blog and cookbooks!). Thanks again.


So sorry to hear about your family's cat. I lost my 18 yr old orange boy in May and it certainly is tough. Sympathies to your Dad and everyone who knew Dre.
This recipe is perfect for today. I'm home with a cold and have all the ingredients I need to make this.
Thank you for all that you do!


I made this last night for the family. It turned out wonderful. I used barley instead of rice and instead of the lemon juice, I diced two oranges and added it in just before serving. The spinach really added to the texture of the dish. This is my new favorite way to prepare lentils.


This story absolutely breaks my heart....makes me want to go back home and hug my cat Jack.


This looks like a great recipe for lintel soup. I am sure to be using this recipe for an upcoming event that I will be Catering. I may change things up by adding a few ingredients but none the less looks like an amazing foundation to start with.
Thank you for sharing.

Classy Catering Creations

Hi Heidi.. this may sound a little bit crazy but your post made me cry. I'm so sorry for your (and your father's) loss. This July, I held my 13 year old kitty (also a redhead) as she slipped away. I got her when I was 17 years old and she was with me through all the good times and tough times in my life from that point on. She was a wonderful friend and I miss her so much. I did a post about her weird personality when she was still around, and I'm so glad I did!

Dre was a beautiful, beautiful cat. I'm so glad you were lucky enough to have him in your life for such a long time. :)

Nicola @ unhip squirrel

I wish I could cook your beautiful soup for my mother who just called to tell me her cat, Elmo, has died. Poor Mom, who has suffered the loss of two children -- my older sister and brother...and now her beloved cat. Your Dad's tender words are is your warming and comforting post.


I'm so sorry to hear about Dre's passing-- he was such a handsome kitty! Sounds like he had a wonderful life.

I often find lentil soups to be too heavy, but the addition of lemon seems like a perfect way to lighten things up. I'll definitely be trying this one!

The Cozy Herbivore

Your dad's email made my eyes fill with tears...pets are family, and their loss is always so heartbreaking! My thoughts are with your dad (and you).


So sorry to hear of your Dad's cat I know how it feels,having lost our beloved pets over the years. It is heartbreaking. Please let him know that he is not alone, and we know how difficult this time is.


So sorry to hear of your Dad's cat I know how it feels,having lost our beloved pets over the years. It is heartbreaking. Please let him know that he is not alone, and we know how difficult this time is.


I know exsactly how you feel about the kitty. I had to do the same in may with my "Garbo" who also got to be 18 years old - which by the way is very old for a cat. I miss her dearly and she was also the most fantastic little friend anyone could have. Miss her very much.

The soup looks delicious, but so does anything you make :-) I love soup and letils are very good for you I believe. Thank you for your wonderful recepies and photos. I'm planning on buying your cookbook.


Aw, what a sweet kitty, so sorry. Our cat passed away last year, he was 22, they become so much a part of the family and they are always unconditional!


Thank you all for being so awesome, amazing, and kind. I talked to my dad last night and he told me how much he enjoyed reading all your heartfelt stories, notes, and comments. You really are the flat out best. -h


I'm sorry to hear about your family cat. When our cat Thomasina died it was sooo weird going to my parent's house and not seeing her. She used to wait for me at the top of the stairs and always gave me like 10 head nudges when I came in. It's very funny how pets become fixtures of your everyday life. Hope your dad is doing OK.

Now I'm trying to segue into food talk.

I'm loving this lemon kick you're on! Did someone give you a whole bunch of lemons? Do you have a lemon tree?


That is so sad. Very moving post.
I used some of the ideas for the lentil soup recipe tonight and it was delicious! I was also wondering if you have anything red velvet in your list of favorites. I wanted to make a red velvet cake or cupcake but I know that if it came from you it would be the perfect one!


sigh! I have to say, it is good to be surrounded by compassionate, animal-loving, food loving people! Heidi, you and your dad are in good company. I also lost an old kitty a couple of years ago, one who had been with me through thick and thin. And I totally relate to the home-made food! Bean was eating better than we were at the end. Forever in our hearts and memories...


I am very sorry for your family's loss. The pet is completely part of our family who shares not only living environment but even emotions or memories. Missing so much of the kitty will be heard by him.

And this soup sounds very therapeutic and delicious. Lentils are not easy to find here in Japan. I want to try this recipe with other kind of beans, perhaps.


This was sooo good and easy to make! It's going to be a new staple in my meal planning:)

Winn Mahoney

My condolences to your dad on losing such a cherished friend. How heartbreaking.


My condolences for the loss of a beloved pet - They do bring so much fuzzy joy and love into our lives. I made this exactly as written tonight for dinner and it was FANTASTIC deliciousness. I often have leftover greens like spinach and left over brown rice. This is perfect for using them up and so good. Thanks!


I made this recipe the evening after you posted it, and it is wonderful! I am the only vegetarian in my house, but everyone loved it (especially with the greek yogurt), and even asked where I had found it. We didn't even have leftovers!

The only changes I made: I didn't blend the lentils, because i couldn't find the immersion blender, but it honestly turned out fine. The split red lentils fall apart enough, and it was nice to have the texture. Also, I added a bit of asafoetida to both the onions and to the lentils/broth.


I am one of your (I assume many) lurkers. I enjoy your blog so much and enjoy trying the recipes---or just dreaming about trying them!

Hearing about the loss of your dear family pet has brought me out of the lurking shadows...I will add my voice to the many others offering true condolences for this loss. Pets are family members and losing one leaves a tremendous hole.

Thank you for sharing yourself with us in all the many ways that you do...including this very personal event on your blog. I'm vegetarian food lover and animal lover, too!


I am so sorry about dear Dre. As I watch my own aging kitties, Pickles and Pumpkin, I wonder where did the time go. Dre was a beautiful cat, thanks for the picture. My condolences to your Dad.


I recently had to let my 18 year old kitty go. Her name is Kema. It's incredible how much I miss her and our rituals. My heart goes out to your family.


My deepest sympathy on the loss of your family pet. It does sound like Dre lived a great life and I believe those memories will sustain you and bring a smile to your dad's (and your) face when you remember Dre. I know that sustains me when I think of my cat who passed at age 13.5. We still have G, who is 17 and a half. We don't take her for granted and enjoy each day with her. Pets, especially cats, are so special!
I picked up the red lentils and am making this soup today. Looking forward to it as I don't cook with red lentils often enough.


I am so sorry to hear about your cat, Heidi. The soup sounds lovely. I made something like this a few days ago...I added chopped tomatoes to the lentils while they cooked, blended that and added coconut milk, lots of mashed ginger & garlic, cumin, turmeric, carrots & spinach. Then, lemon to taste and I let the whole thing simmer. It was a one pot deal with no onion. I'm looking forward to doing it again.


I love anything lentil (brown rice too). I could eat this sort of thing for lunch everyday. In fact I think I will ...

Family Meals and Cooking Tips

Having been holding our beloved dalmatian a year ago while the injections did their work, I can tell you the pain is sharp as a knife going through the heart.

my deepest sympathies, at some point the pain gives space to the realization you did the right thing.


I think that my cat was one of the nicest people I've ever known.

I've never met anyone that I liked more than her, and I can honestly say that there was never a time in the seven years that I knew her that I wasn't just tickled pink to see her.

I never avoided her company or got tired of her, and as I matter of fact I always looked forward to seeing her and was excited whenever I was about to do so.

Which makes it especially hard to come home nowadays, knowing that she's not here.

with Deep Sympathy, Trixie


I'm so very sorry for your loss. Dre looks like a handsome boy, it sounds like your dad gave him a terrific life. It's so very hard to lose a pet. My parents and I still talk about my cat after many years (my father used to walk him on a leash). I have tears in my eyes now, the space they have in your heart never goes away.


Heidi, I am so sorry to hear about your dad's kitty Dre. My condolences... your soup sounds like, and is, the perfect comfort food. I am eating it right now and have to say that every single one of your soups (and other recipes) is amazing! I have tried them all (soup-lover, what can I say) and this one is the perfect addition. Thank you for sharing your amazing talent with the world :)


Dre looks like the sweetest fluffiest thing but at the same time like the guy that really runs the show around the house. I have two kitties and try not to think about how it would be when they are gone.

The soup looks exactly like what I want to make but I had a question, after I read the recipe in this post I opened Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (my most used cookbook) and I saw that she recommends to make the soup pretty thin, I prefer soups thick and I think the soup pictured in this post also looks on the thick side. I was guessing that she instructs to thin the soup becouse of the strong lime (or lemon) flavor, making it less intens.
What is your input? I know I can go ahead and make it and experiment with it but I was wondering if you can put in your two cents before I actually go ahead and make it. Thanks!

HS: Hi Dania - the version I feature here is a slightly thicker version than the one in the book. It also thickens up quite a bit more after a night in the refrigerator. And yes :) In this case it's just personal preference. I could see making it again thin or thick just depending on what I'm in the mood for.

dania @ the cookery

To start I know how your father feels. It is so hard to lose a pet. They truely do become part of the family. I must say your recipe looks amazing. I wonder if the recipe would taste the same if you don't have red lentils available to you and used regular ones?


I so sorry to hear about the family cat. 18 years old, means that he had a great life:)

I love how this soup sounds, it is the season for it now, as it is getting colder outside;) :)


Your post brought tears to my eyes. I can very easily sympathize with your dad and the loss of his cat. I had to have my 17 1/2 year old cat put to sleep a little over a month ago. It was the hardest decision I have ever had to make but in the end it was what was best for Jake. Each day gets a little bit better, but we miss him terribly. Dre is in a much better place and knows how much he was loved and will be missed!


There's nothing quite like a furry companion. Thanks for sharing; I'm glad I finally found your blog. I look forward to reading more in the future, and I hope you'll enjoy reading mine, too!

Ruthie Young

This recipe looks delicious and simple. Your "Lively Up Yourself" Lentil Soup converted me to a lentil soup lover years ago. I think greens and lentils go so well together!
Very sorry to hear about your kitty.


So sorry to hear about your cat, he had a great life, 18 that's amazing! It is so hard to lose a family pet, they become more than a friend.They are that fluffy thing that you come home to and tell all about your day, like a person really that doesn't talk back!
I love the look of this soup, lentils and lemon yum!

Honey For Jam

I am so sorry about your cat. :(

The soup looks beautiful! I love the presentation and your blog.


Ideal soup for this time of the year.

tobias kocht!

I am heart broken to read about Dre and all of you. Your sweet friend of the heart will be with you always.


So sorry to hear about Dre. I can relate. We got the same call from my dad about a month ago. Lily was his buddy for a long, long time. It's those little day to day routines that he misses and he truly had no idea HOW MUCH he would miss her. There is truly nothing more heartbreaking that a sad papa. From a HUGE cat lover, I am sending you all love.

Kerry Cloud-Pitt

I finally found your new book today and bought it! All the way from Sydney, Australia xx


Dealing with a loss of your pet is extremely difficult. I couldn't imagine living without my dog. Animals bring people so much joy. It's amazing how much they can change your mood.


I have only had red lentil soup once, but I remember saying, "Now I know why Esau was willing to give up his birthright for this..." And with lemon? YES PLEASE! Sooooo going to make this. THIS WEEK. It is on my list. Thanks!

Tiffany {A Clove of Garlic}

I made this today and it did not turn out well at all. 7 cups of water is too much--was that number accurate? I used the red lentils (masoor daal).


I grew up in Dearborn, Michigan, which has a large Arabic population; take out the mustard seed and don't worry about the spinach or the extra carbs (rice, whatever), add a little garlic, and you have a very basic and VERY good typical Arabic-carryout soup staple. Dearborn has Arabic restaurants as ubiquitous as most places have Chinese: and instead of egg-drop soup and eggroll, you get red lentil soup and a salad with sumac spices!

That said, I think one or two of your readers, who expected a more "dal"-like flavor profile, need to understand that your recipe has more of an Arabic/Mediterranean flavor profile; readers who understand that won't be disappointed. I can guarantee it!


PS. Can't even discuss the cat thing. One trying to type with me as I speak. She must know...and offers her condolences.


This looks delicious! I love lentils.


I don't have yellow mustard seeds. Do you think I could use the black version or skip them entirely?


Love the china pattern in the picture. Could you share the name, please?

Chele Gatewood

Lentil soup is one of my favorite dishes, I make it year-round but when winter comes around, I could live on it alone! I don't use lemon but will be sure to try this, it sounds delicious. I recently posted a Lemon-Radish Soup on my site so I know the flavors are going to be wonderful together. Thank you for the inspiration!

Eat Well: This American Bite

I just finished eating this for dinner, and it was phenomonal.The only changes I made were adding two crushed garlic cloves to the onion mixture and toasting whole cumin seeds and grinding them. I think everyone needs to make this dish at least once in their life. It was super easy to put togehter, pureeing the lentils wasn't necessary as red lentils tend to disintegrate on their own. Thank you Heidi!


Just made this recipe--as expected, it was delicious! I substituted quinoa for the brown rice and sour cream for the yogurt since that's what I had on hand. Thumbs up for how quick and easy it was--literally took me only 20 minutes. Thank you Heidi!


Elizabeth did not answer the question...was not expecting daal. 7 cups of water was too much. What type of red lentils do you recommend?

HS: Hi Jake - if the texture is still too thin for your tastes, perhaps try a blend of the split red lentils + yellow split peas (which are chunkier & hold their shape). Also - serving over rice or a grain def. thickens up the overall experience. Not sure if that is how you served it. Or use the same lentils you used this time, scale back to 5 cups of water to start, and adjust from there throughout the cooking process until it's the consistency you like/expected. Hope this helps.


Thank you so much for this delicious recipe! I followed it as written, save for a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar and a bit of chili pepper. I served it over farro and topped it with a spoonful of 0% Fage and a dollop of spinach cooked up with a bit of lemon and garlic.

Rachel Christu

i made this on sunday and we had leftovers last night. it's such an incredible blend of flavors. we loved it! i was worried it was too thin, but the rice gives it the substance it needs - it's perfect. it definitely thickens overnight and the leftovers are even better. thanks so much!

samantha jillian

How terribly awful for your Dad. I lost my beautiful Lena girl earlier this year. She was 15. My heart goes out to you and your Dad. Your post brought tears.

Lisa Griffin

I really enjoyed this recipe, with the added rice and yoghurt. I've made something similar, but the large amount of turmeric and lemon somehow made it more scrumptious to me.


I opened your blog on the way to the grocery store last night looking for something unique, as your recipes always are! :o) WOW! What a medley of flavors! It was wonderful. I left the "soup" a little thicker so it was more like a sauce. I made up a little bowl with each of the parts neatly arranged, the brown rice, the sauce, sauteed spinach and a dollop of the greek yogurt. I added a side of some rotisserie chicken and mmmmmmmm! YUM YUMMMMMY!! Thanks so much for another great meal!


We who share our lives with animals are blessed beyond comprehension. I am sorry for your loss and your family's loss. I have cared for five rescued dogs in my adult life. I think of them often and wait for they to come and find me when my lifetime is over. Your love of animals is why I am attracted to your page, I have often wondered the "why?"


sorry about your family cat. they are amazing creatures and truly appreciate good cooking and good loving. I'm sure your new cat angel is hanging around his favorite haunts. Thank you for sharing this.

daphne macklin

I really want to say how much I LOVED this dish, perfect for a autumn evening. You blog is constantly inspiring! Thanks!


I made this soup and LOVED it. I didn't use the cilantro (didn't have any) and I subbed in chicken broth for the water. I've been feasting on the leftovers at lunch. So very, very yummy. Thank you!

Jennifer Jo

My compliments on a great recipe. I really liked it. The only alterations I made were omitting the yogurt and using smart balance lite (to make it vegan) and I used baby spinach instead of chopped spinach. I ate it with some naan bread, since I had stopped by a local Indian store to get the mustard seeds and lentils. It is very sad news about your dad's cat.

Noah F

What a lovely, peaceful, nourishing blog to stumble upon from a line at the top of my email page. Your red lentil soup looks delicious and Dre was obviously perfect. Inspiring. Thank you so much.

jan conaway

Delicious recipe! I’m sorry about your kitty :(


I am so sorry - yes, losing your pets is super hard


I'm so sorry to hear about your (your Dad's) kitty. My cat is such a wonderful little guy - so sweet and companionable and loving - that I know I will be completely bereft when he dies. I hope your Dad can treasure the memories and appreciate all the years they had together.


I'm so sorry to hear that Dre passed away. Strangely, my parents cat also died this week and it has been very painful for them too. Like you, my dad also wrote to me about how hard it was in the last few days of her life and how much he loved her and misses her.

I found it very comforting to read about your cat and the photo of him is beautiful. Thank you very much for sharing this with us. The recipe looks great too.


Just made this, it's amazing, thanks for the recipe.


On a positive note... One of the best soups I ever made!


Sorry about your kitty cat Dre!
i just printed out the lentil recipe, though!
my 4 year old got it from the printer. He noticed the photo of the cat.
"What are you printing out mum?" he asked.
"Oh a recipe with lentils' I replied.
He answered "With a Catttt?"


what a delicious soup recipe. we sauteed leeks, kale and watercress for the greens and ended up pureeing everything but half the lentils in the hopes that the kids would eat it for dinner (the site or crunch of onions stops them cold).
i would love to try the texture as you originally wrote so we will have to make it again soon.
it also worked great as baby food. she loved it!
such wonderful flavors. thanks!


Yummy soup - just made it. Skipped the rice, but I'm thinking of baking some bread (pain a l'ancien or something of the sort) to go with it now.


What a deliciously appetizing and not to mention healthy soup. One definitely worth trying if you haven't already.

Amy @ Chef Basket

Happy Thanksgiving, Heidi! I'm hoping to make this soup the day after as a light way to recover, but have been to three different grocery stores now and none of them had red lentils. Would regular lentils be okay or should I continue my quest? Thanks!


I miss Dre too. I know, I did not know him, however your fine tribute touched my heart. I love cats anyway. My dear H, does not like cats too much, and we are to begin RV travel soon.

I have never eaten lentils but believe this is the recipe I will try.

Thank you for sharing.


i just made this and it is incredible.


heidi, thanks for the recipe. my husband I both really enjoyed it.


I made this soup this past weekend and it was the most delicious soup I've ever tasted! Thank you so much for the recipe!


I only have ground mustard, is there a way to substitute for the mustard seed or would it be better to omit it?


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