Indulge in a delicious and comforting red lentil quinoa soup recipe bursting with Mediterranean flavors. This hearty and nourishing soup is the perfect meal for any time of day, keeping you satiated with its protein, fiber, and nutrient-rich goodness.
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Red Lentil Soup With Quinoa
This red lentil soup is inspired by the renowned Turkish soup - Ezogelin Corbasi, which is one of my favorites due to its rich flavor and simplicity in preparation. The soup is typically prepared using red lentils, bulgur, rice, and tomatoes, but I've added my own unique twist to it.
While the original soup has a chunky texture due to the bulgur, I've opted for quinoa, which lends an interesting texture. To enhance the flavor profile, I've added some aromatics from a popular dal recipe, while still retaining the soup's original Turkish flavor base, which includes dried mint, paprika, garlic, Aleppo pepper, and tomatoes.
The addition of paprika and mint seasoning oil on top gives this soup a unique taste that you won't want to miss. It's perfect for warming you up during winter and providing your body with essential nutrients.
About Red Lentils
Red lentils are a fantastic source of protein and fiber, making them a very satisfying food despite their low-calorie count. They're also packed with phenolic compounds and have the strongest antioxidant activity when compared to other varieties of lentils.
This particular type of lentil is unparalleled in its ability to cook quickly and produce a smooth, creamy base. It's for this reason that we frequently incorporate it into our stews and hearty soups, including Chana Dal and Chicken Khichda, to achieve a desirable consistency.
Furthermore, lentils contain important nutrients such as folic acid, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and phytochemicals, all of which offer various health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease, lower cholesterol levels, and aid in weight management. Therefore, red lentil soup is not only delicious but also incredibly nutritious.
Here are some notes about ingredients and substitutes.
- Split Red lentils: These lentils form the soup's base and can be easily found online or at most supermarkets. Before rinsing, pick over the lentils. No need to soak these split lentils, but they absorb a lot of water, so use at least 3 cups of water per cup of lentils.
- Aromatics: Carrots and onions add sweetness and flavor, while fresh garlic and cilantro provide aroma and warmth.
- Spices: Paprika, ground cumin, turmeric, and Aleppo pepper add a complex flavor profile. Paprika also gives a bright red color, while Aleppo pepper adds mild pungency.
- Quinoa: This adds a nutty texture and more protein, and is a great substitute for bulgur.
- Extra virgin olive oil: Use extra virgin olive oil for cooking the soup and making the seasoning oil to drizzle on top.
- Tomatoes: Fresh or canned tomatoes add a tangy flavor base to the soup, and tomato paste contributes to its thick consistency and taste.
- Stock: To make the soup more flavorful, rich, and satisfying, use chicken stock. Vegetable stock is also a good alternative, and stock bouillon cubes can be used too.
How To Make Red Lentil Quinoa Soup
Brief overview below. *Full recipe at the end of blog post.
- Cook Aromatics: Heat oil in dutch oven, cook onions and carrots for 2 mins. Add garlic and spices, cook for 1 min.
- Soup Base: Add tomatoes and tomato paste and cook for 5 mins. Add lentils, quinoa, dried mint, and stock.
- Simmer and Garnish: Bring to boil, simmer for 35 mins. Season with lemon juice, cilantro, and salt.
- Seasoning Oil: Heat oil and stir in paprika and dried mint. Drizzle on soup and serve with lemon wedges.
Cook the red lentils until creamy and they blend well with the stock. Because we want to retain the texture of the quinoa, we will not be using a blender. Therefore it is important to cook the red lentils until smooth.
To prevent boiling over, it's recommended to place a slightly ajar lid on the cooking pot during the first few minutes of cooking lentils.
This soup with plant protein is gluten free, egg free, dairy free, soy free and nut free.
- Vegan and Vegetarian: Use vegetable stock.
- Add Other Vegetables: You can add other vegetables such as potatoes, celery, spinach and other greens.
- Coconut Milk: You can substitute some of the stock with coconut milk for a different flavor.
- Other Spices: Try adding a touch of harissa if you like it spicy.
- Toppings: Top it with crumbled feta cheese, sour cream, whipped Greek yogurt or toasted nuts.
How To Serve
This mediterranean red lentil soup is a meal on its own but you can serve it with other sides.
- With bread: Try it with Onion Rolls, Pita Bread or Soft Honey Wheat Rolls.
- Add Sides: Such as Onion Salad, Mirza Ghasemi (Eggplant Eggs) or Eggplant Yogurt Salad.
- With Meat Dishes: Such as Chicken Kofta or Lamb Shawarma.
This Mediterranean red lentil quinoa soup is a filling and nutritious choice, loaded with protein, fiber, essential nutrients, and antioxidants. Red lentils, which are rich in protein and fiber, are known for their satiating properties despite being low in calories.
Lentils also contain folic acid, manganese, phosphorus, iron, and phytochemicals that have been linked to various health benefits, including reduced cholesterol levels and lower risk of heart disease and obesity.
Quinoa is a good source of antioxidants and complete protein, making it nutritionally beneficial for several health conditions such as diabetes, colon cancer, hypertension and obesity. Lastly, this soup is gluten-free.
Dried mint is what gives this soup the characteristic flavor. I would not use fresh mint, if I can find dried mint. While other dried herbs like oregano can be tasty, they will create a different flavor profile altogether.
Cook the onions, carrots, garlic, spices, tomatoes and tomato paste in saute mode. Add lentils, quinoa, stock, dried mint and salt. Place the lid on the instant pot, set it to high pressure and cook for 8 minutes. Release steam naturally. Stir the soup and add lemon juice and cilantro. Prepare the seasoning oil and drizzle on the soup.
Add onions, carrots, garlic, spices, tomatoes, tomato paste, lentils, quinoa, stock, dried mint and salt to the slow cooker bowl. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours. Stir the soup and add lemon juice and cilantro. Prepare the seasoning oil and drizzle on the soup.
Red lentils are among the quickest and easiest types of lentils to cook. They break down easily and dissolve into the cooking liquid, resulting in a creamy soup.
More Quinoa Recipes
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Mediterranean Red Lentil Quinoa Soup
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 large yellow onion chopped
- 3 carrots peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves grated
- 3 teaspoons paprika
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon turmeric
- 1 teaspoon Aleppo pepper
- 1 cup chopped tomatoes
- 4 tablespoons tomato paste
- 2 cups red lentils rinsed and drained
- ½ cup quinoa or fine-grain bulgur
- 4 teaspoons dried mint
- 8 cups chicken stock vegetable stock, or water
- Kosher salt
- 1 lemon for juice and wedges
- 3 tablespoons cilantro chopped finely
- Freshly ground black pepper
- In a large dutch oven, heat 3 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add the chopped onions and carrots. Cook until softened but not brown, about 2 minutes.
- Next, stir in grated garlic followed by spices and cook until fragrant, for about 1 minute.
- Add tomatoes and tomato paste, and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, for about 5 minutes.
- Add red lentils, quinoa, dried mint and stock. Bring it to a boil, for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat, place the lid slightly ajar, and simmer for about 35 minutes, stirring occasionally until the lentils are soft and well blended with the stock.
- Season with a squeeze of lemon juice, cilantro, and salt to taste. Adjust the consistency (with more stock) and the seasoning as needed and continue cooking for another 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
- In a small saucepan, heat 3 tablespoons of olive oil over low-medium heat. Add paprika and dried mint and stir the mixture. Remove from heat to prevent the seasonings from getting burnt.
- Drizzle ½ of the seasoning oil on top of the soup and give it a light stir. Ladle the soup into serving bowls and drizzle the remaining seasoning oil on top. Serve the lentil soup with lemon wedges on the side.
- Meal Prep: Chop the vegetables ahead of time.
- Storage: This soup keeps well for 4 to 5 days in the refrigerator. Pack in freezer safe containers and freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw and reheat, adding water if needed.
- Vegan and Vegetarian: Use vegetable stock.
- Nutrition facts not including any added salt.
- Check blog post above for instant pot and slow cooker instructions, more tips, variations, and FAQs, etc.
More Lentil Recipes
This post was first published on March 1, 2016 and has been updated with improvements in pictures, tips, FAQs and additional enhancements.