If I could get away with calling this red velvet soup, without having to endure looks of total and utter disappointment upon the realization that it is not, in fact, cocoa buttermilk-flavored, nor is it finished with a dollop of cream cheese frosting…then I would.

Because that would be a much more accurate description than “red lentil soup with lemon”, which sounds plain-jane at best, and is certainly not something you want to rush home and make as if your life depended on it.

But rush, you should.


Because while your life itself may not exactly be at risk…

…it’ll be far more full with this soup in it.

Filled with essentially pantry ingredients, this soup is revelatory in that it combines such simple things into something so darn tasty.

(Unless you are, um, me and happened to run out of just about everything in my pantry at the exact moment I decided I desperately needed this in my life.  Really, what kind of food blogger in her right mind runs out of onions and garlic?  On a Friday night, no less! Which is prime soup-cooking time.)

(No, really. Wild, crazy, and soup-full. That’s how my Friday nights roll.)

The lentils basically melt into the broth, creating a thick and almost creamy texture.  Combine that with a hint of tang from the lemon, spice from the cayenne, and smokiness from the cumin…and there you have what can only be described as a flavor orgy in a bowl.

And while we could rename it in such a way that it’s lascivious nature is practically screamed from the rooftops…there’s really no need.

Red lentil soup with lemon.

Classy and understated.  Just like the Friday nights that accompany it.


Last night, I went for a run that almost didn’t happen.

It was cold.  My legs were kinda achy breaky.  I was hungry.  It was Tuesday.

And a million other excuses that passed through my head.  I don’t know what was wrong with me because I even considered not working out at all.

Then I thought about how I would feel tomorrow (today) when I woke up knowing that I had had the ability to do one of the things I love the most. And I didn’t do it.

So I laced up my sneakers (which I think I desperately need a new pair of) and I went.  Every step wasn’t perfect.  But I did it. Six miles. Done.

And when I woke up this morning, my calves rebelling with every step to the kitchen to make breakfast.  My head felt clearer.  And it felt worth it.  I had made the right choice yesterday. And today will definitely be better for it.


Red Lentil Soup with Lemon
Serves 6, adapted from In The Kitchen With A Good Appetite 


  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp tomato paste
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • pinch cayenne pepper
  • 2 quarts vegetable broth
  • 1 1/2 cups red lentils
  • 1/2 cup bulgur
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh parsley


  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over high heat.  Add the onions and garlic and saute until starting to brown, about 4 minutes.
  2. Stir in the tomato paste, cumin, salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper.  Saute 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the broth, 2 cups water, the lentils, bulgur, and carrots.  Bring to a simmer and then partially cover the pot, turning the heat to medium-low.  Simmer until the lentils are tender, about 30 minutes.  Add salt to taste.
  4. Using an immersion blender (or regular blender OR food processor) puree the soup (or just puree half, leaving half chunky).  Stir in the lemon juice and parsley.

I am submitting this to Souper Sundays, which is hosted by Deb at Kahakai Kitchen.


You are reading this post on Eats Well With Others at Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to the author and or owner of Eats Well With Others. All rights reserved by Joanne Bruno.
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92 Responses to Red Lentil Soup with Lemon {}

  1. I know the feeling – almost not going for a run – but then you do it and you’re sooo glad you did. 🙂 This soup is calling my name now that the cooler, typical March temps are back!!

  2. Elizabeth says:

    I’ve been meaning to use lemon more in soups, adds such a great flavor.

  3. And this one has no red food coloring:)
    I usually prepare lentils this way, minus the last four ingredients.

  4. This sounds absolutely lovely! Such a great idea. And I must say I’m happy there isn’t cream cheese frosting in this…weird! haha

  5. Love these fresh flavors — and that you added bulgur into the mix!

  6. I have the red lentils in my pantry but I too ran out of onions. My husband loves to do the cooking part of the time and made us a delicious meal. He forgot to tell me that he used the last two onions so I’m off the the market.

  7. I need to make a solid effort to like lentils. I keep seeing things that look delicious, then backing away because I dislike them. Maybe red lentils taste better? This looks beautiful by the way, I could see it being sopped up with a thick slab of Naan 🙂

  8. Ben says:

    I haven’t had lentil soup in a long time. This looks so yummy and velvety 😀

  9. Gloria says:

    we love really love lentils so this is delicious for me:)))

  10. Pam says:

    Well, your picture is gorgeous, but I have still have lentil doubts.

  11. Lynn says:

    I happen to have some red lentils, so I just printed this out and will make it on Friday night in your honor. 🙂 That’s actually my next opportunity to cook and it looks yummy and comforting.

    I’m glad you got your run in!

  12. Lora says:

    This look luscious! Yum.

  13. bellini says:

    A lovely soup for these in-between days Joannne

  14. Betty says:

    Red lentils are my favorite- I love the way they just melt away when you cook them. This soup is perfect just the way it is, plain Jane and all. And I have all of the ingredients too. Serendipity?

  15. It’s funny that you thought the name was plain jane because I knew I would be bookmarking this after only reading the title – red lentil soup with lemon sounds amazing!

  16. Esi says:

    I need more of this soup in my life and less of what I’ve really been eating 🙂

  17. Margarita says:

    You are a better person than I am because I did not make it to any workout at all… I just decided that last night was going to be one of those nights. This soup looks delish! Must get some lentils in my pantry soon.

  18. I feel very antsy if I am garlic- and onion-less. Right now, moving in a month… no carrots. Trying to eat my way through my fridge/freezer/pantry… so no replenishments. But, can I live without carrots for a month? I don’t know!!

    I’ve made Clark’s red lentil and lemon soup from NY Times (which I love love love) but it doesn’t have the bulgur. What a wonderful idea! It reminds me of the classic Turkish soup. I haven’t had bulgur in so long… need to remedy that. 🙂

  19. Rachana says:

    This red lentil soup with lemon sounds simply amazing. Yum!

  20. Jenna says:

    Now I know what to do with those pesky red lentils that have been sitting around in my pantry looking mopey!

  21. Sanjeeta kk says:

    Love the thick and creamy texture of this scrumptious soup!

  22. Hannah says:

    You are my pantry savior. I’ve had a stupid bag of red lentils kicking around in there for way too long, and I just haven’t felt inspired to use them. I don’t have bulgur on hand, but I do have TVP, which I often substitute the other way around- I don’t see why it wouldn’t work here instead!

  23. Amy says:

    I make a really similar dish that I adapted from Martha Stewart years ago, except it’s not pureed into a soup and I serve it over rice. AND there’s no lemon…FAIL. I think I might even like this better. And I always have onions and garlic in the house. Paleeeese. 😉

  24. Kristen says:

    I would say you are a walking inspiration to all of us, but more accurately, you are a running inspiration. This soup sounds like something I would LOVE!

  25. Kristin says:

    This looks really yummy! I am not a runner. I have tried a few times and I still never fully got the hang of it. Then one day I had a horrible day at work and went for a run right after coming home and it was pretty relaxing. By the time I got back to the house I wasn’t worked up anymore. Running definitely helps clear your head.
    Holy Cannoli Recipes

  26. Laura says:

    Red lentils with lemon-sounds absolutely scrumptious! Your gorgeous pictures make me want to have a bowl of this soup right now.

  27. Mary says:

    Your soup has wonderful color and sound delicious, Joanne. I’m so glad that red lentils have become more available. I already have a recipe for the soup but yours sounds so interesting that I have to give it a try. Have a great day. Blessings…Mary

  28. I’ve never cooked with lentils OR bulgur. I need to fix this asap, because this looks delicious.

  29. Looks so delicious! I love a good lentil soup and this is a nice twist!

  30. Tasha says:

    Thank you for the reminder of this lovely soup. I’ve made it in the past (minus the bulgur and with cilantro) and I loved it so very much that I shared it with no one and ate the entire pot in under 24 hours.

  31. Your lentil soup looks so good! Perfect for the colder weather we’ve had the past few days. I usually walk and it was just too windy. Good for you for going out and running!

  32. How about this, I’ll come over for dinner and you can tell me we are having red velvet soup?

  33. Faith says:

    Mmm, this looks delicious — red lentil is one of my favorite soups! I love how smooth and velvety it is.

  34. Geni says:

    My favorite soup at my favorite little cafe is Red Lentil and when I have tried to make it, I have been sorely disappointed. So I am SO HAPPY that you posted this because if I trust any blogger’s recipes in the world…it’s yours Joanne.

  35. Miriam says:

    I love how you get things done even when you don’t want to. You are a good example to me :). And you’re right, I must not go on without this soup any longer, I love lentil soups!!
    [email protected]Meatless Meals For Meat Eaters

  36. Hoooray, I discovered a ton of red lentils in my cupboard and I’m wanting good things to use them in. It’s coming into Winter here in NZ so this is perfect food for the weather! Oh and trust me, I run out of all those things, all the time. Also: I don’t have any oven mitts, I just take hot food out of the oven with folded up teatowels. What kind of food blogger am I???

    Good on you for persevering with the run! Definitely good to weigh up the long-term gain against the short term apathy.

  37. Katerina says:

    My son is a big fan of lentils. I am sure this soup would be perfect for him and he would love every sip of it!

  38. Christine says:

    Great quote today! This soup is perfectly timed since I just picked up some red lentils at Whole Foods last week and was looking for a soup idea! Thank you~

  39. i am sure it tastes out of this world but i can’t get over just how breathtakingly beautiful and amazing it looks! great job

  40. Megan says:

    This soup looks amazing. I made a red lentil soup a while ago, but it didn’t look nearly as velvety as this one.

  41. Ooooh, I love red lentil soup! They are amazing little things, and the texture is delicious. I especially love the onion/garlic/cumin flavors, but I’ve never added lemon to mine. I have no idea why not, but I have to try that now!

  42. This soup is just gorgeous. I love red lentils and will certainly be making this soon.

    It is never too hot for soup around here!

  43. Eileen says:

    Red velvet soup–ha! It may not be able to take cream cheese frosting, but it would still be great with a spoonful of plain yogurt or sour cream, and that’s pretty close, right? I especially love the lemon with red lentils–super zing!

  44. OohLookBel says:

    Great soup! I like that it has bulgur in it – there’s a bagful in my cupboard that’s begging to be used, so guess what I’ll be making this Friday night?

  45. Mmmm yummy! I need to lace up my sneakers and go for a power walk…and have a bowl of this waiting for me upon my return. I’m okay with calling it Red Velvet 😉

    p.s…I’d love it if you’d send this over for MLLA this month, too!

  46. Danielle says:

    I love a good lentil soup and this definitely sounds good!

  47. Reeni says:

    I love thick and creamy soups like this! Perfect for snuggling up to any night of the week!

  48. Carolyn Jung says:

    I love soups like this that you can just whip up on the spur of the moment without having to rush to the store. A meal without any hassle. 😉

  49. Katie says:

    Good for you for getting up for that run. I often find that I feel better the next day, even if I don’t feel that way at the moment. This soup sounds delicious. I love the idea of the smooth lentils.

  50. The soup looks amazing, sounds terrific with the addition of the lemon flavor!

  51. elly says:

    This looks so great! I love lentils but I think I’ve only cooked with red ones once. I’ve really, really been wanting that cookbook too. Maybe for my birthday. 🙂

  52. Christina says:

    I bet the lemon really brightens the flavor. I love lentil soup, and this sounds like a nice variation.

  53. I made a lentil soup just last week and although I loved the taste of every bite, the texture was way off. And your photos prove it. A smooth lentil soup is just better. Next time!

  54. I love anything with Red Lentils! This looks great.

  55. Dining Alone says:

    I have never been a big fan of lentils, I think I need to give them another try, everyone seems to love them.

  56. I should not laugh at you running out of onions, as it has happened to me! We used to have a grocery store a block away which meant sending hubby out shopping, but sadly they have closed. Now I am trying to be more organized 🙂 Lovely recipe by the way.

  57. To be honest, I think I’m the last one who hasn’t even tried lentils. However, your red lentil soup made me want to try! I actually thought this looks delicious and I wish that I could taste it. Beautiful photography – this looks so hard to take pictures (I’m very bad at taking soup photos in general) yet you nailed it and came out beautifully!

  58. Just made a really simple lentil salad for the lunch ;-)) Love your soup…comforting and healthy!

  59. Hotly Spiced says:

    That is such a great looking soup and again, it would be so good for you and totally a complete meal. That’s so good of you to jog even when you don’t feel like it. And don’t you feel so much better for it when it’s all over. I do swim squads and I almost always never feel like getting into the water but I’m so glad I did when the session’s over. xx

  60. Mary says:

    This soup sounds delicious, but why oh why did you have to start off with the description of an EVIL red velvet version? You are a wicked temptress, my friend.

    I think I’ll make the right choice today as well and stick with the healthier options. 🙂 Have a fabulous day, Joanne!

  61. Erica says:

    That soup sound and looks creamy, comforting and tasty

  62. daphne says:

    The weather is cooling down and I have started making soups again! Lentil and Lemon- who would have thought? It looks really comforting though and what I need today!
    ps- i feel the same way with my kettle bells and weight classes!

  63. That Girl says:

    Maybe if you put a dollop of cream cheese atop the soup you could get away with calling it red velvet?

  64. Shannon says:

    love a good lentil soup! and the bulgur is a great addition 🙂

  65. Karen says:

    OMG, this sounds so healthy and delicious… gotta make it!

  66. I love a good lentil soup! Good for you for keeping up the motivation to work out. It’s inspiring. 🙂

  67. sally says:

    Red lentils are a pantry staple in my house too. They are so darn tasty!

  68. Nicole says:

    This looks amazing! Slurp!

  69. No argument from me – I love lentil soups!

  70. Donna says:

    I fell healthier just LOOKING at this soup. Now, could you please RUN for me, too?

  71. Kalyn says:

    Such a wonderful looking soup. I love red lentils, especially in soup.

  72. This is a GORGEOUS soup. Seriously. It’s healthy, and definitely hearty. Yes, a food orgy in the mouth. Indeed.

  73. I think I shouldn’t look at this lovely soup before lunch. It makes me hungrier. 😉

  74. Natalie says:

    we have the same kind of friday nights…i love it! 🙂

  75. I would run home to cook that. Maybe I am a nerd 😉

  76. Jeanette says:

    I am a huge fan of red lentils, love how they just melt into the soup. I could use a bowl of this!

  77. beti says:

    I won’t lie, I don’t like lentils specially since in here they eat them with bananas, but adding lemon sounds a way better, the soup looks good

  78. Since I have a personal hatred for anything red velvet (I have issues, made deeper by my hypocrisy of making the hated cake at least once a year, usually 2-4 because everyone else loves it), I’m very glad you decided to call this red lentil soup with lemon. I will save this, I really like red lentils and would love them prepared in a creamy soup like this! And well done on that run. 🙂

  79. There’s something so great about red lentils and lemon together. The lemon enhances the flavor so much. How fun to add bulgur! I’ll have to try that.

  80. I absolutely adore red lentils and the lemon must add a wonderful brightness. I should try this soon 🙂

  81. I just made a red lentil soup last weekend and the lemon adds such a great brightening touch. This one looks ultra creamy and delicious. Thanks for sharing it with Souper Sundays. 😉

  82. Chris says:

    Ha ha ha, as of this very second, I am also out of onions and I had the exact same thought as you. How the hell do I run out of onion? On the other hand I have a buttload of garlic:)

    Thought about you last night, we have our marathon this weekend and they were profiling a bunch of different folks running in it.

  83. Kristen says:

    This looks awesome! I have been saving some red lentils for a while, wondering what I’d do with them. Now I know what I’ll use them for (as soon as they arrive in our shipment of stuff)! Plus, who can turn down a “flavor orgy in a bowl”? Not me :).

  84. Oh my gosh, this looks amazing!! So warm and creamy =D

  85. Hi! I loved the look of this so much that I made it myself, and LOVED it! 🙂 I blogged about it here if you’re interested! 🙂

  86. I’ve been procrastinating exercise all morning, but your notes here I’ve kicked me into gear. Time for a run! Thank you 🙂

  87. Anonymous says:

    This soup was delicious! Very flavorful and great texture. I stayed true to the recipe and it was amazing. Thanks for the new fall recipe. Now off to search your blog for more yummies to try.

  88. Nicole says:

    I made this soup and it was delicious – and I was skeptical about loving lentils again, and about the parsley (being a cilantro lover). The flavours were so yummy together. I also ate a serving cold one day and it was surprisingly equally yummy. Highly Recommend! It also freezes well.

  89. […] ever so slightly adapted the recipe from the Eats Well With Others […]

  90. […] (Adapted from Joanne Eats Well with Others) […]

  91. Sarah says:

    I feel as though I need to comment on this post because I haven’t yet… This is the 1st post I found off pinterest from your blog. I’m obsessed with it and I make this routinely (adapted a little bit because I can’t be bothered with carrots). It is perfect and the bulgur takes it over the edge. Tastes just like the middle eastern restaurants from Michigan that I miss now that I’m in Cali…. Love! 🙂

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