Red Lentil Soup With Lemon



  • 2 cups split red lentils, picked over and rinsed well
  • 1 tablespoon turmeric
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large onion (about 2 cups) diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons yellow mustard seeds
  • 1 cup chopped cilantro
  • Juice of three lemons, or to taste
  • 1 large bunch of spinach leaves, chopped
  • To serve: cooked (warm) brown rice, non-fat plain Greek yogurt


Put the lentils in a pot with 7 cups water, the turmeric, 1 tablespoon of the coconut oil, and 1/2 teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, then lower the heat and simmer, covered, until the lentils are soft and falling apart — about 20 minutes.

Purée with a hand or standing blender. Add more water until the soup is the consistency you like, then taste and add more salt if needed. Keep the soup warm/hot.

While the lentils are cooking, prepare the onion. In a skillet over low heat, cook the onion in 2 tablespoons of the remaining coconut oil along with the cumin and mustard seeds, stirring occasionally. When the onions have softened, roughly 10 or 15 minutes, add the cilantro and cook for a few seconds before removing from the heat. Add the onion mixture to the soup, then add the juice of the lemons, one lemon at a time - until the soup has a nice bit of tang. Also, add more salt to taste at this point if needed.

Just before serving, add the last of the coconut oil to the skillet. When hot, add the spinach and a good pinch of salt. Stir well, and cook just long enough for the spinach to collapse. Serve by placing a scoop of rice in each bowl, then soup, spinach, and a dollop of yogurt.


6 servings

Nutrition Tip

Turmeric is an Indian spice that contains the antioxidant curcumin. In laboratory studies, researchers have found that curcumin interferes with some cancer development pathways, and human studies to test these relationships are currently in the very early stages.

In food, turmeric provides the warm, peppery flavor commonly associated with curry. Paired with the bright acidity of fresh lemon and the nutty flavor of the brown rice, the turmeric will balance out this rich but healthful meal. Feel free to substitute any whole grain you have on hand for the brown rice, such as farro, quinoa, or wheat berries.

Source: Adapted by 101 Cookbooks from Deborah Madison's Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone 

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