Healthy Lemon Lentil Soup

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Normally when people think of soup, they think of rich, hearty soups served up on cold winter nights. But there are some amazing soup options that are perfect for summer, like this healthy lentil soup!

This recipe for lentil soup is full of great summer vegetables and tasty lentils in a light and satisfying broth. You can add whichever vegetables are in season or in your fridge and whip this up for a nutritious weeknight meal.

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup lentils
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

How to Choose the Right Lentils

To avoid overly mushy lentils in this healthy lentil soup, you’ll want to choose the right lentils. Just like beans, lentils come in different varieties, each cooking differently.

I like to use red lentils in this recipe because I find that they cook very quickly and break down a little bit to make a nice, thick broth.

If you like a more sturdy lentil in your soup, try green lentils. They hold their shape a little longer when cooked. You could also make this soup with brown lentils, which are similar in flavor and texture to green. 

Dried lentils are best for soups as they will have a better flavor when cooked and have a great texture throughout the soup.

Instructions

Follow these steps to make a delicious and flavorful healthy lentil soup.

Step 1 – Chop Vegetables and Rinse the Lentils

Start by rinsing all the produce. Peel and chop the onion and carrots. Cube the zucchini.

Now is also a great time to zest the lemon and peel the garlic. 

Sift through the lentils to ensure there are no discolored or misshapen lentils or particles that you don’t want to eat. Give the lentils a quick rinse and then lay them flat on a paper towel to soak up the excess moisture.

Step 2 – Cook the Onion and Carrots

Heat your soup pot on medium heat and add the olive oil. Once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and some salt and pepper. Cook until translucent, about 3 minutes.

Stir in your sliced carrots and cook for another 3 minutes.

Add the minced garlic, or grate it directly into the pot and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.

Step 3 – Add the Seasoning for Lentil Soup

Once the vegetables are slightly tender, add in the cumin, cardamom, and turmeric, and the cinnamon and cayenne if you choose to use it.

I think the cinnamon adds a warm flavor to this soup and the cayenne adds a nice kick of heat.

Coat the vegetables in the spices and cook for 30 seconds. 

Step 4 – Add Broth and Simmer

Pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and stir. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. 

Step 5 – Add Zucchini and Lentils

Once the broth is simmering, it’s time for the zucchini and the rinsed lentils.

Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. I cook the lentils for about 8 minutes and then check for doneness. 

Step 6 – Stir in Corn, Lemon, and Spinach

When the lentils are tender, stir in the frozen corn, lemon juice and zest, and the spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes just until the spinach starts to wilt.

Step 7 – Serve It Up

Remove the pan from the heat and serve up some big bowls of this comforting soup.

Cookware Used

Here are all the tools you’ll need to make this healthy lentil soup.

Mesh strainer: A mesh strainer is the ideal tool for rinsing lentils. It lets water pass through but the mesh stops you from losing any lentils down the drain.

Microplane/grater: I use a microplane to grate the garlic into the soup as well as zest the lemon. It is the easiest way to finely mince garlic and to zest a lemon quickly.

Large soup pot: I like a high-walled soup pot for this dish. One that heats quickly and evenly will ensure that you can cook your lentils until tender without overcooking them. I like an enameled cast iron Dutch oven, but any high-walled pot will work beautifully.

How Long to Cook Lentil Soup

The time it takes to cook this lentil soup will depend on the lentils you use. As noted above, I used red lentils so this recipe only takes about 10 minutes to fully cook the lentils until tender and starting to break down and thicken the soup.

If you don’t want the red lentils to break down, you can stop cooking them closer to the 6-8 minute mark.

Green and brown lentils take a bit longer. Once you add them to the soup, set a timer for about 15 minutes and check for doneness.

Healthy Lentil Soup Variations

The above recipe is perfect for summer. I love to use fresh zucchini and swap the frozen corn for fresh if we have some on hand. You could also add green beans or peas.

If you’re looking for a cozy lentil soup for chilly nights, I recommend making a creamy curry lentil soup.

Swap the carrots for some cubed sweet potatoes. These will need to cook a bit longer before adding the spices, closer to 8 minutes to soften.

Instead of cumin, use 1 teaspoon of curry powder and add a can of coconut milk at the same time you add the broth. 

I also like to grate in ½ inch of fresh ginger at the same time as the garlic.

Now, It’s Your Turn!

This healthy lentil soup is a perfect way to use some bright, summer vegetables. Whether you use red or green or brown lentils, be sure to give them a good rinse before you add them to the soup and set a timer to avoid overcooking them. 

Add your own favorite vegetable combination or experiment with some fresh herbs. This healthy lentil soup recipe is easy, quick, and versatile.

Print

Healthy Lemon Lentil Soup

This lentil soup recipe is chock full of great summer vegetables and yummy lentils. You can add whichever seasonal vegetables are your fridge and whip this up for a nutritious light summer broth.

  • Author: Beatriz Garcia
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 20 minutes
  • Total Time: 30 minutes
  • Yield: 4 servings 1x
  • Cuisine: South Indian

Ingredients

Scale
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 zucchini
  • 1 cup lentils
  • Juice and zest from one lemon
  • 6 cups vegetable or chicken broth
  • 2 cups spinach
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon cardamom
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Instructions

Chop Vegetables and Rinse the Lentils

Peel and chop the onion and carrots, and cube the zucchini. Then zest the lemon and peel the garlic. 

Rinse the lentils and dry on a paper towel.

Cook the Onion and Carrots

Add olive oil to a preheated soup pot then, once the oil is hot, add the chopped onion and some salt and pepper. Cook for 3 minutes,  until translucent.

 Stir in your sliced carrots and cook for another 3 minutes.

 Add the minced garlic, or grate it directly into the pot and cook for another 30 seconds until fragrant.

Add the Seasoning for Lentil Soup

Once the vegetables are slightly tender, add in the cumin, cardamom, and turmeric, and the cinnamon and cayenne if you choose to use it. Coat the vegetables in the spices and cook for 30 seconds. 

Add Broth and Simmer

Pour in the vegetable or chicken broth and stir. Bring to a simmer on medium heat. 

Add Zucchini and Lentils

Once the broth is simmering, add the zucchini and the rinsed lentils.

Turn the heat down to low and cover the pan. Cook the lentils for about 8 minutes and then check for doneness. 

Stir in Corn, Lemon, and Spinach

When the lentils are tender, stir in the frozen corn, lemon juice and zest, and the spinach. Cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach starts to wilt.

Serve It Up

Remove the pan from the heat and serve up some big bowls of this comforting soup.

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