If you know anything about Middle Eastern food, then you know that lentil soup is basically the national soup for every Arabic country. We love it. We can't get enough of it. And once you try it, you'll know why. I make this Arabic Lentil Soup with very few spices (but the right spices!) and vegetables and I'm obsessed with how quick it comes together and how delicious it tastes. Trust me, once you learn this method for the creamiest lentil soup, you won't be making it any other way.
This Arabic lentil soup reminds me of Ramadan, a holy month when Muslims fast from sunrise to sunset. Once it's time to break our fast, this is the soup we do it with! It's healthy and packed with nutrients. I actually make this all year long. It's one of my go-to recipes for meal planning because I can easily make a large batch, and its easy to store in the freezer.
I learned this recipe from my mom, but I've made a few tweaks to it over the years, mainly to make it much easier and more streamlined to make. And slightly healthier, too. Traditionally, onions fried in oil are poured on top of the finished soup before serving. But to avoid the extra calories, I skip this step and to be honest I don't miss it.
What spices are used in Arabic Lentil Soup?
Cumin is the star ingredient, adding a delicious nutty and warm flavor to the lentils. I also use a bit of turmeric to make it a vibrant yellow colour. That's the only 2 spices you'll need, mainly because the onions and other vegetables will also add so much flavour... don't skip the onions! In fact, you can even add more if you like. The more the better.
How to cook the lentil soup on the stovetop
I've listed instructions for this soup using the Instant Pot. However, if you don't own one, you can follow the recipe as it is but rather than pressure cooking, cook it in a pot over the stove with the lid half covered to allow it to simmer for a while. Cook time will be close to 40-60 minutes, in order for the lentils and the vegetables to soften. Check on it periodically to ensure the water level is fine and once everything is soft, blend per the recipe instructions.
Notes and substitutions
- You can totally skip the potatoes in this recipe. They're great to throw in if you have them for extra creaminess, but if not, don't worry - it'll still be delicious.
- If you have carrots lying around, you can add those in the same way we add the potatoes and onions.
- Whatever you do, don't skip the onions. They add an amazing depth of flavor. You can also add more than what the recipe calls for. The more the better. But I had to draw the line for myself.
- You can adjust the level of liquid and the salt at the end. The recipe yields a lentil soup with a thick consistency because that's how I like it. If you like it thinner, add more water at the end.
- If you don't own any type of blender, chop the vegetables finely and you can also serve the soup with a chunky consistency. It'll taste just the same!
How to freeze and re-heat lentil soup
I always make a large batch of this soup because it freezes so well, so why not save myself some time? After cooking, this is what I do:
- Allow the soup to cool completely on the counter
- Scoop the soup into freezer bags and add enough for one meal
- Close the bag, ensuring you get rid of all the air inside
- Flatten the bag so it takes up less space in your freezer, and you can stack them up easily
- Take out and allow it to thaw overnight in the fridge or the same day on the counter
- Heat it over the stove top in a pot and use a whisk to get rid of any lumps and make it super smooth again.
That's it! Really easy. The secret is to use a whisk when re-heating so you end up with a smooth consistency and it will taste as good as new. I usually leave them in the freezer up to a month (but they never last that long).
If you do make this Arabic lentil soup, pop back here and let me know what you think. Leave me a comment and a review, I always love to hear what you have to say! And if you're on Instagram, send me a photo! They always make my day.
For more soup recipes, check out:
- Fall Sweet Potato and Carrot Curry Soup by my friend Areeba which looks incredible!
- Libyan Soup - Shorba by my friend Nadia who also discusses it's cultural and historical significance
- Instant Pot Roasted Red Pepper Soup
- Instant Pot Carrot Soup with Ginger by Sarah, which also is a must try!
This super easy lentil soup recipe will have you slurping it for weeks. Its creamy, perfectly spiced, and super addictive. All in your instant pot!
- 3 onions
- 2 small potatoes
- 3.5 cups red split lentils
- 4 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp salt (plus more per preference)
- 1.5 tsp cumin powder
- ½ tsp turmeric
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 13 cups water (approximately 3 liters)
- Lemon juice (optional)
- Crunchy pita chips (optional)
- Start by peeling and chopping the onions and potatoes into large chunks
- In the Instant Pot (I used 8Qt for this size - see notes), add the vegetable oil, potatoes, onions, and spices and cook for 5 minutes on saute mode
- Add the lentils and water, mix well ensuring you scrape the bottom of the pot, and close the lid
- Pressure cook for 15 minutes. The Instant Pot will take approximately 10-15 minutes to come to pressure
- Manually release the pressure valve and blend the soup using a hand mixer
- Taste and adjust the salt and also the water. If you like it thinner, add more water and allow it to cook for a few more minutes on saute mode
- If you're making the crunchy pita topping, simply cut pita bread into small squares and fry on medium heat using 3-4 tablespoons of oil. Continue stirring until golden and crunchy
- Serve with a squeeze of lemon and crunchy pita on top
- If you don't have an Instant Pot, you can follow the directions and cook on the stove top instead of pressure cooking. Cook time will be closer to 40-60 minutes.
- I used an 8 Qt instant pot for this batch size. You can halve the recipe and use a 6 Qt instant pot
- You can skip adding the potatoes if you don't have any (but don't skip the onion!)
- You can also add carrots to this soup, the same way the potatoes and onions are added
- Adjust the thickness of the soup at the end by adding more water for a thinner soup or allow it to boil for a thicker soup. This recipe yields a thick consistency
- Category: Soup
- Method: Instant Pot
- Cuisine: Middle Eastern
Keywords: Lentil Soup, Instant Pot