Moroccan Lentil Soup

My husband and I met a friend downtown last Friday for drinks.  I’m not high maintenance by most standards, but it took me about 40 minutes and two outfit changes to switch over from teacher-mode to going out mode.  The mister, on the other hand, showered, shaved, chose a button up shirt and jeans, and carefully mussed his hair in less than 15.  He was sitting on the couch playing Angry Birds long before I emerged from the bedroom to ask him which shoes looked better.

My male counterpart is usually known around here by pseudonyms like Mr. Medium Rare, The Hubs and my favorite taste tester.  You may be surprised to know that he has a real name.  Meet Peder; 6 foot 4, blue-eyed and amiable, the keeper of  both random and highly useful knowledge.  Equal parts logical and creative,  stubbly and polished.  Peder has good kitchen sense, but cooks only occasionally.  He rarely reads cookbooks or browses food sites, and chooses recipes like he shops–thinks, decides, procures, purchases, and goes home to move onto more important things.  And the most endearingly annoying part? Every recipe he chooses is pure gold.

If you have been to my house in the past 3 months, you have undoubtedly heard about “the” Moroccan lentil soup.  You know, the one we mention every time the topic of food comes up (which is pretty frequently around here).  You may have even tried it, one of the ten times we have made it recently, at a school staff potluck, or a last minute dinner get-together.

I’d love to take credit for finding such a fantastic recipe.  After all, I read cookbooks like it’s my part time job.  I luxuriate in the glossy pages, and bookmark potentials with neon sticky notes.  I check Tastespotting on a daily basis, just to see what catches my eye. The problem is, I’m easily distractable…Um, what were we talking about again?  Oh, right.

It goes something like this:  I go to my massive shelf of cookbooks and pull out the Native Foods cookbook, Madhur Jaffrey’s Indian Home Cooking, and the latest issue of Bon Appetit.  Halfway through the sandwich chapter of my Native Foods cookbook, I remember my favorite portobello burger.  A good possibility…I move on to Madhur Jaffrey.  Before I can flip past the foreword, I remember a recipe I had bookmarked on Indian Simmer.  After deciding that the Malai Kofta would have to wait for another day, I head on over to another one of my favorite food blogs, Use Real Butter.  Oh, look, I can make ice cream using only bananas!  Hey Peder–I can make ice cream using only bananas!  You get the picture.

One day, three months ago, Peder decided to make lentil soup for dinner.  After a quick google search, he discovered this recipe buried deep in the comments section of another recipe (we later found the recipe in The Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss).  He gathered the ingredients, mostly pantry staples.  It took him 20 minutes to chop and saute the onions and garlic with heaped spoonfuls of aromatic spices.  He added the red lentils, broth, and crushed tomatoes, and poured everything into the slow cooker.  6 hours later, something magical emerged.  The lentils were soft, but still toothsome, like perfectly cooked al dente pasta.  The broth had a layered complexity and was scented with turmeric, coriander, and a hint of cinnamon.  A couple pulses of the immersion blender thickened the broth slightly, turning the soup from light to medium-bodied.  A squeeze of lemon and some parsley and cilantro stirred in at the end woke up all the flavors and tied them all together.

At first, I was a little jealous that I didn’t find this fantastic recipe on my own.  Then…I tasted a spoonful, and thought, a girl could really get used to this!

Moroccan Lentil Soup

Adapted from The Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss

Serves 6

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 large onions, chopped
  • 3 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 heaped teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 3/4 teaspoons paprika
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon allspice (optional)
  • 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons kosher salt (to begin with), then to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 7 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 24-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 2 cups dried red lentils, rinsed and picked over
  • a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • juice of 1 lemon
  • a small splash of red wine vinegar (about 1/2 tablespoon)
  • 3 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan or dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and cook until tender, about 6 minutes.  Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, and allspice.  Cook for another minute or two, stirring to coat the onions.  Add the broth, tomatoes and salt, and bring to a boil.  Pour into a slow cooker, and stir in the lentils.  Cook for 4 to 5 hours on high, or 6-8 hours on low, or until the lentils are tender.

Stir in the lemon juice, a small splash of red wine vinegar, red pepper flakes, cilantro, and parsley.  Season to taste again with kosher salt.   Cover and cook for an additional 10 minutes.


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40 Comments

Filed under Soups and Stews

40 responses to “Moroccan Lentil Soup

  1. Making this soup for the second time. We are going to a “SOUP WARS” party tomorrow and have 2 hours to make a soup start to finish. This should be easy and the soup is delicious!
    Thanks for the recipe.

  2. Kathi Hufnagel

    Made this soup tonight. MMmmmm! Everyone loved it. We had a kale salad with green olives and dates went very well with it.
    Yhanks for a great recipe.

  3. Drew

    I’ve made this once and I’m making it again right now. The best lentil soup I’ve ever had. I love the garnish of peppers and lemon with a little fresh cilantro and parsley. Amazing I will eat it for three days happily.

  4. diana

    Yummy, just had it for lunch. Added butternut squash, sweet potato, potato and my secret shroom oil to add umami. If you are not a fan of cumin I’d suggest using only half the amount in the recipe.

  5. Del

    Great recipe ….to speed things along, I boiled the lentils separately for 25 minutes and then added them to the almost completed soup, then cooked an additional ten minutes. I also put it all in my vitamix and puréed it….mmmm, nice and smooth and delicious.

  6. I have to cook on the stovetop how long will I have to cook it?

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  8. heidi

    If anyone is questioning whether or not to try this recipe, you must! Simply the best vegan soup / stew I have had! I like to add mushrooms and some root veggies as well…… makes the house smell awesome too!

  9. Carolyn Zaremba

    I don’t have a slow cooker. Can this soup be made without using one? I’d love to try it.

  10. Linda Hand-Stann

    We just finished our dinner of this soup and it is outstanding. I did make a few changes, as many cooks do based on the purpose for cooking at that particular moment and ingredients at hand. I needed to use my Easter ham bone and the leftovers. Generally I make German style lentil soup after Easter, but saw this and could not resist. Substituted chicken broth for vegetable and simmered my bone in it for a couple of hours. Followed the rest of the recipe as written, added my ham, and as garnish upon serving, a small dollop of sour cream and a sprinkling of crispy bacon bits. The depth and complexity of the flavors was a delight, so alive. Highly recommend this version of lentil soup. Bravo, and thank you for another great soup to enjoy here in the cold north. P.S. If you make it and decide to use ham and/or chicken broth go very, very easy on the salt. Glad I did as the both add saltiness.

    • Linda–Wow, great adaptations to make a more “meaty” savory version! I’m so glad you enjoyed. We’re beginning to thaw down here in Denver. It is definitely spring! Here’s to hoping spring makes its way up in your direction soon, but until then, at least you have soup!

  11. Shelly

    Do you think I could add some roasted cauliflower ?

  12. Sona

    Hi,
    Happy to find you. Thanks for the amazing recipe.

  13. Susan Henry

    I made this last night, and it was very delicious; a meal in and of itself. My son and my husband loved it and so did I. We are trying to eat less meat, so it was a real find for us. Thank you so much for sharing!

  14. April

    How much different will it taste if I leave out the tumeric?

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  16. Janey J

    Made my own version tonight using your great guidelines, brown lentils (all I had) carrots and celery and spinach and it warmed all 6 of us on a freezing snowy London night. Thanks for the posting and tell Mr to keep the golden recipes coming!

  17. Chocolate Lady

    I did a google search for Moroccan lentil soup and your site came up. After reading through your post, I knew I had to make this soup. It’s on the cooktop now (too late to throw in the crockpot) and smells oh so delicious ~ I can’t wait to taste that first bite! I’m serving this soup with some roasted cauliflower and homemade pita. Thank you for sharing! I can’t wait to peruse your site when I have more time.

  18. anne gillies

    Hi! Making this for the third time – so ridiculously good in relation to the tiny amount of work involved! Thank you! Anne

  19. cheryl

    I’m not a great cook! and this was really easy, thanks so much!! my first lentil reciepe ever!!

  20. I can’t wait to make this. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Cooked this 4 times already!

    Feels like somewhere between Morocco and India.

    Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us.

  22. annacej

    Mmmmm-mmm-mmmm!!! We love this recipe and even the 2 year old eats it! Thanks again, Jenny, for a wonderul, easy and TASTY recipe!

  23. Made this early this morning and I’m eating my 2nd bowl right now. (Okay, maybe 3rd…shhh.) It’s the most fantastic soup that I’ve ever had. I mean that with all of my heart and not just because I’m drunk with Moroccan Lentil Soup happiness. Thanks for posting!

  24. ncaam

    Thank you for this recipe, had a recipe similar to this one years ago from an even older cookbook my mom had…the book was totally destroyed in a move a while back when a container of primer (art student days) spilled inside a box. Why I decided at the time to pack the two together still boggles my mind. All of the contents in that box have been long forgotten with the exception of that recipe.

  25. That’s a nice looking lentil soup! I like all of the warm spices in it.

  26. I love the flavors in this soup. Perfect for a winter evening!

  27. Linda

    Hey, girl! Love the “Mister” description. I’m making this today in the crock pot for dinner since I teach until 7. Can’t wait! Thanks. 🙂

  28. Mmmm….I can smell that cooking now. If I had red lentils, it would definitely be in the crock pot tonight. I love red lentils, but I’m out and have to go to the “big city” to buy them- with this recipe waiting for them I’ll just have to make the trip. 🙂

  29. I am definitely more like you when I pick recipes.. I could make this, or this, or THIS, or that.. I have started writing all the ideas down otherwise they may get buried into the crevices of my memory.

    I have already committed myself to make harira next weekend for a gathering, so I am happy to hear yours was well received everywhere it went. 🙂

  30. I’ve tasted this soup, cooked by the mister himself. Best soup in the universe!!

  31. Izzy

    Yay! The delectable lentil soup I’ve been craving for weeks now! Guess I can stop harassing you two for the recipe 🙂
    Much love to you both!

    Izz

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