Lemon Spiced Red Lentil Soup | SheenaScott.com

Spring is almost here, but there’s still a crisp edge to the air that begs for a simple bowl of warm soup. I’ll admit that I’m eager to start digging in the garden again and surround myself with all the freshness that spring and summer have to offer.

It has been unseasonably warm for much of the winter here in Alaska, but I’ve lived here long enough not to get my hopes up for an early spring. After all, May 15th is the last average frost for my area. Starting my seeds will have to do for now. I highly recommend getting a few packets yourself, even if you only have a small porch or sunny window. There’s nothing better than plucking a salad from your garden and devouring it within minutes – oh summer, how I have missed you…

Lemon Spiced Red Lentil Soup | SheenaScott.com

All daydreaming aside, the recipe I’m sharing today is my go-to red lentil soup recipe. It has been adapted over the years, originally Deborah Madison’s Red Lentil Soup with Lime recipe published in Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone (a book well worth its heft, if you can get over the lack of photographs). It’s filled with warming spices and simple enough to make on a weeknight. Red lentils provide a smooth texture, punctuated with the striking yellow hue of turmeric and spiked with one of my favorite spice combos: cumin, yellow mustard and red pepper flakes. It’s all balanced out with a tang of lemon. This is just the recipe to ease into springtime.

Lemon Spiced Red Lentil Soup | SheenaScott.com

Golden Superstar

The spices featured in this recipe are all nutritional superstars in their own right, but no other spice has been more widely studied than turmeric. And for good reason: curcumin—the active ingredient—contains such diverse and powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant properties that it has been shown to improve and protect nearly ever organ in the human body. In fact, thousands of studies have shown curcumin effective in treating over 70 disorders including cancer, heart disease, type 2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, arthritis, high blood pressure and age-related macular degeneration to name just a few.[1] Phew!

This should come as no surprise considering healers from India and China have been using turmeric for thousands of years to treat a wide range of ailments. Even better, turmeric is beautiful and has a mild flavor, lending itself well to a wide range of recipes (or as a lovely golden dye—don’t say I didn’t warn you).

Lemon Spiced Red Lentil Soup | SheenaScott.com

I hope you enjoy this last warm bowl of goodness before saying goodbye to winter and diving headfirst into fresh spring veggies and long summer days. I know I can’t wait!

Lemon Spiced Red Lentil Soup

Prep Time: 5 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Yield: Serves 8-10

Adapted from Deborah Madison's Red Lentil Soup with Lime from Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone.


  • 2 cups red lentils, rinsed well
  • 1 tbsp. turmeric
  • 2 tbsp. coconut oil
  • salt
  • 2 tsp. whole cumin seeds
  • 2 tsp. mustard seeds (preferably yellow)
  • Pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 small yellow onions chopped
  • ¼ cup cilantro or parsley minced + 1-2 tbsp. to serve
  • 2 big handfuls of baby greens (such as spinach, chard or kale) finely chopped
  • 2-3 lemons
  • To serve:
  • Flaked coconut
  • Toasted sliced almonds


  1. Combine the lentils, turmeric, 1 tsp. of salt and 6 cups of water in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered for 20 minutes or until the lentils have broken down. Leave as-is for a chunky texture or process with a hand blender for a smoother consistency.
  2. While the lentils are cooking heat 2 tbsp. of coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the cumin, mustard, crushed red pepper and onions and sauté until the onions are translucent and golden, 15-20 minutes.
  3. A few minutes before the onions are done, add the cilantro and greens to the pan. Remove from heat and stir until the greens are wilted. Transfer the onion mixture to the soup pot.
  4. Start by adding the juice from two of the lemons and taste – it should have a little tanginess to it. Add more lemon ½ at a time until it reaches desired tartness.
  5. Serve topped with toasted coconut, sliced almonds and the remaining cilantro.

[1] Aggarwal, Bharat B. and Yost, Deborah. Healing Spices. New York: Sterling Publishing, 2011, p.241-243, Print.


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