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This satisfying Red Lentil Soup Recipe is easy to make, requires minimal ingredients, and has rich, deep flavor and creamy texture. It’s a delicious first course to a larger meal, or it makes a perfect lunch.

Arabic Red Lentil Soup Recipe on Metal Tray

I wanted to write a post about Ramadan earlier (since it’s already the 16th day!), but time has been flying by. (Update: I wrote and originally published this post on the 16th day of Ramadan in 2009.)

Red Lentil Soup is very popular during Ramadan. It’s hearty and delicious, and serves as the perfect tool to whet your appetite.

There are many different versions of Red Lentil Soup. You can add beef, chicken, or other veggies like carrots and celery. This is the most basic version, but don’t let that fool you! This easy soup has rich flavor and creamy texture.

Overhead View of Red Lentil Soup on Wooden Table with Vintage Spoons

What is Ramadan?

Ramadan (the Islamic holy month of fasting) is also a time for prayer, reflection, and giving charity. During Ramadan, fasting is done from sunrise to sunset to teach you patience, discipline, and empathy for others who aren’t as fortunate.

Each day the fast ends with prayer followed by a meal called iftar.

I lived in different areas of the Middle East (Jordan, Syria, and Kuwait), and I had the incredible experience of participating in Ramadan. Despite being hungry and thirsty, it was a truly wonderful time.

During Ramadan, in the Middle East towns come alive at night, and it’s very celebratory. Special meals and sweets are served. People gather together to break bread after sundown, and it leads to hours of talking and laughing and feasting.

What Do You Eat During Ramadan?

After not eating all day during Ramadan, there are a few typical foods that you break the fast with and then a big meal is eaten.

How to Break the Fast

Each day during Ramadan, the fast is typically broken broken with dates and a sip of water. But be careful not to drink too much water or you’ll be too full to eat, and trust me, that would be a shame after not eating all day!

The First Course

After eating one or two dates, you move on to the first course, which is typically some kind of soup, such as Red Lentil Soup. (As you can imagine, meals during Ramadan usually involve several courses.)

Lebanese Red Lentil Soup on White Tablecloth

The Main Course

Then comes the main course, which can be a pretty elaborate spread. The main course is similar to a large Sunday supper or sometimes even a holiday dinner. It may include several different dishes of meat, rice, potato, and/or vegetables. Think something along the lines of roasted chicken and vegetables with mashed potatoes and gravy, and then add pot roast, then add candied sweet potatoes, then add green bean casserole. You get the idea.

The good thing about this is that once you make a feast like this, you probably won’t have to cook again for at least another two or three days (depending on how big your family is), thanks to leftovers.

Coffee and Dessert

After the main course comes the coffee, and not just any coffee, but rich, dark, almost velvety Turkish coffee (which is so incredibly delicious!). But of course the idea of having coffee alone is simply unheard of, and so there must be sweets.

The sweets of Ramadan are really something to be desired. Traditionally, Ma’amoul are served, which are the most amazing date-filled cookies with a flaky pastry crust that literally melt in your mouth.

What Foods Do You Avoid During Ramadan?

There are certain foods that are usually avoided during Ramadan, such as salty foods that make you very thirsty (such as Shakriya) and foods that make you bloated (like Hummus or Falafel).

Once the holy month ends, it tradition to have a meal that includes some of these foods!

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My Cookbook: An Edible Mosaic

Check out my Middle Eastern cookbook An Edible Mosaic for more authentic recipes and cultural tidbits that I picked up during my time spent living in the Middle East.

Red Lentil Soup Recipe with Description

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

This Red Lentil Soup is a masterpiece. I learned to make it from my ex-mother-in-law Sahar when I lived in the Middle East.

The recipe starts by sauteeing onion in olive oil, which creates a flavorful base. Sahar always used chicken bouillon cubes to add richness and depth of flavor, but I like to use chicken stock. Of course, feel free to use vegetable stock for the vegan version of Red Lentil Soup.

Spices are minimal here; just a bay leaf, cumin, and black pepper. You can add salt to taste, depending on how salty your stock is.

This soup is served with a couple wedges of fresh lemon to squeeze on top, which brighten up the flavor immensely.

All in all, I think you’ll be surprised at how delicious this soup is, despite its simplicity!

Red Lentils in Bowl

Do Red Lentils Need to be Soaked Before Cooking?

No, red lentils don’t need to be soaked before making this Red Lentil Soup Recipe.

Ramadan Red Lentil Soup

More Recipes to Try During Ramadan

Red Lentil Soup Recipe

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Red Lentil Soup Recipe

5 from 1 vote
Prep Time5 minutes
Cook Time35 minutes
Servings: 4 servings
This satisfying Red Lentil Soup Recipe is easy to make, requires minimal ingredients, and has rich, deep flavor and creamy texture. It's a delicious first course to a larger meal, or it makes a perfect lunch.

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Ingredients
 

Instructions
 

  • Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté until slightly softened, about 5 minutes.
  • Add the lentils, bay leaves, cumin, black pepper, and chicken stock. Cover the pot and bring the soup up to a rolling boil, then turn down the heat and let it boil gently for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally, and adding a splash of water if necessary.
  • Taste the soup and add salt and pepper as desired.
  • Serve along with fresh lemon wedges to squeeze on top, garnished a sprig of fresh parsley if desired.

Notes

  • Storage: Store leftover Red Lentil Soup covered in the fridge for up to 5 days. This reheats well on the stovetop or in the microwave. You may need to add a splash of water to thin it out when reheating.
  • Vegan Version: For the vegan version, use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock.

Nutrition

Calories: 269kcal | Carbohydrates: 36g | Protein: 17g | Fat: 6g | Saturated Fat: 1g | Cholesterol: 5mg | Sodium: 263mg | Potassium: 674mg | Fiber: 14g | Sugar: 5g | Vitamin A: 37IU | Vitamin C: 4mg | Calcium: 45mg | Iron: 4mg

Nutritional information is automatically calculated and should be used as an approximate.

Course: Soup
Cuisine: Arabic and Middle Eastern
Keyword: Red Lentil Soup, Red Lentil Soup Recipe

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Red Lentil Soup Recipe Pin

This post was first published on An Edible Mosaic on September 6, 2009. It was updated with more information on April 19, 2021.

Faith, author of An Edible Mosaic.
About Faith

I’m the writer, recipe developer, photographer, and food stylist behind this blog. I love finding the human connection through something we all do every day: eat! Food is a common ground that we can all relate to, and our tables tell a story. It’s my goal to inspire you to get in the kitchen, try something new, and find a favorite you didn’t know you had.

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Recipe Rating




31 Comments

  1. 5 stars
    I first came across this recipe a few years back, and shame on me, I never came back to comment. I was once invited to iftar with a neighbor’s family, and their red lentil soup was so good that it haunted me for years until I decided to try making it myself. This recipe did the trick perfectly, and it has since become a staple in my household. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had requests to make this soup for get-togethers, and it’s so easy! Thanks so much for this!

  2. Is the nutritional information for one serving or 4? I love this recipe!!!

    1. Laura, Thank you so much for your kind words! The nutritional information is for 1 serving; the recipe makes 4 servings.

  3. Hi Faith, I love making this soup and I just make the lentil w/swiss chard and lemon from your book. delicious! a new favorite for sure :-)

  4. I’m half lebanese and this is a great version of red lentil soup. I’ve been making it ever since I ran into it and I absolutely love it! It’s healthy and delicious…
    And to everyone who hasn’t made it yet, I highly recommend you give it a try!
    Thanks for the recipe!
    Cheers!

    1. Anna, I’m so glad you enjoy this soup, it’s one of my favorites!

  5. Thankyou so much for posting this. It is hard to believe it is so close to Ramadan. This will be my 3rd Ramadan and I am so excited. Inshalah, I plan to cook this Ramadan without much help.I have been looking for this recipe. I love it and didn’t know what it was called. I have searched several sites and found it here. Thankyou for the information and the encouragement. May Alah bless you all and may all of you have a Great Ramadan. Ramadan Mubarak.

    1. Leeza, Thank you so much for your sweet comment! I hope you enjoy the soup, it is my favorite during Ramadan too. Ramadan Mubarak!

  6. I made this soup for my book club (we had a book about Saudi Arabia), and everyone loved it! Thanks for the great inspiration for the soup.

  7. I’ve been wanting to make lentils every since an old roomie made some. A friend showed me your recipe and I LOVED it.. Very easy to make yummy! I will make this again iA.

    Thanks for sharing

  8. Lubna Karim says:

    Ramadan Mubarak to you and u r family……Shorbat looks extremely drool worthy…quite filling and indulging….

    1. Lubna Karim, Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family! :)

  9. Thank you for sharing about Ramadan. It sounds like a very spiritual time. Can you drink on the fast days or is both not eating and drinking?

    I should try lentil soup. The soup season is beginning and this would be a nice new soup for me to introduce.

    1. Chaya, During the fast you can’t eat or drink. If you make the lentil soup, let me know how you like it! ;)

  10. Lorraine & Heavenly Housewife, Ramadan Mubarak to you as well! (And to everyone! ;) )

  11. Thank you for sharing some background :-) The red lentil soup looks yummie!

  12. Heavenly Housewife says:

    Ramadan Mubarak :), I celebrate ramadan too. Here in England the fasts end around 8. I dont do several courses cause the fasting makes me tired (except if I have guests). The soup looks great, really hearty. Just the thing to give you back your energy.

  13. Blond Duck says:

    Totally drool-worthy.

  14. Natasha - 5 Star Foodie says:

    Delicious soup with red lentils! Thanks for a great recipe!

  15. I remember when I was in Singapore and my Muslim friends would fast…I always felt sorry for them, but I guess I was just thinking purely in the material sense!
    That soup looks really satisfying. I’ll have to try it. But my, my, red lentils don’t cook in their original pretty red color!

  16. Thank you all for your sweet comments!

    Anh, Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family as well!

    Nora, I got those chicken stock cubes at an Arabic grocery store. If you can’t find the Maggi brand, Knorr also makes really good bouillon cubes.

    Zerrin, I can’t wait for your red lentil soup recipe!

  17. When I was young my mother always made lentil soup and served with a twisted homemade donut. I never got the recipe for either and regret that so often. Thanks for the post and prompting the memories.

  18. What a coincidence! I’m arranging the photos of my red lentil soup for my next post right now :) Yours looks so heart filling, I can feel the warm smell of it even from its photo. I love it with lemon juice and with some dried mint on the top. A great soup for iftar!

  19. where can i get those chicken stock cubes faith? this soup looks mouth watering!! yummm!! love the idea :)

  20. Diane, Fit to the Finish says:

    I love lentil soups, especially ones that are well seasoned. That recipe looks great!

  21. I love lentil soups and this one sounds pretty easy to do….

  22. sarah (ghost world) says:

    looks delicious! i loved hearing about the fast (and the ritual breaking of it!). very interesting and cool to learn about! and the date sweets sound amazing.

  23. Lentil soup looks very inviting!

  24. Ramadan Mubarak to you and your family! :)

    I cannot believe it’s already the 16th day of Ramadan. I ate this type of soup quite often for Iftar. My husband loves it. A Morrocon owner in Melbourne also taught me another Iftar soup recipe, very similar, but with chickpea and lamb broth.

    I am awaiting Ramadan sweet recipes from you!

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