This Lebanese red lentil soup, known as shorbet adas in Arabic, is a very healthy and delicious blended soup that we enjoy on the regular as soon as it gets chilly. This recipe is beyond easy to make and requires just a handful of pantry ingredients. Plus it's naturally vegan, gluten-free, and dairy-free!
In Arabic, the word "shorba" means soup, and "adas" means lentils. So shorbet adas literally translates to lentil soup. This version of Lebanese lentil soup calls for red lentils which become very soft when cooked, resulting in a smooth and creamy blended lentil soup. It can be enjoyed as an appetizer, a side, or its own meal with some crispy pita chips.
This red lentil soup is the same exact one I grew up eating and that my mom has cooked her whole life. There are many variations out there including Turkish and Egyptian lentil soup, but this simple and easy Lebanese red lentil soup recipe has my heart and I'm so excited to share it with you!
- Red lentils: Make sure to buy dried red lentils for this recipe.
- Yellow onions: They add flavor and aroma to the soup.
- Carrots: They add a little sweetness and a vibrant color to the soup once blended.
- Cumin: It adds a delicious and authentic flavor in Lebanese red lentil soup.
- Fresh lemon juice: This brightens up the soup and balances out the flavors.
- Water: This is the liquid that my family always uses, but you can use any broth you like.
- Salt: A generous amount is needed to bring out the flavor in this soup.
Step by Step Instructions
Step 1: Prep your ingredients. Chop the onions and carrots, juice the lemons, and rinse and drain the lentils. Make sure to remove any debris you find in the lentils.
Step 2: Sauté the onions and carrots in olive oil. Set the Instant Pot to "sauté", and once it heats up, add the olive oil, onions, carrots, and salt. Let them cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent and slightly golden, about 5 to 8 minutes. If you are cooking this on the stovetop, use a large pot and sauté over medium heat.
Step 3: Bloom the cumin. Add the ground cumin to the onions and carrots, and cook together for about 30 seconds, until the cumin becomes very fragrant.
Step 4: Add the lentils. Add the rinsed and drained lentils and cook together for a minute.
Step 5: Add the water and cook until the lentils are soft and mushy. Place the lid on the Instant Pot, set the valve to the sealed position, and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, then natural release for 10 minutes. If cooking on the stovetop, turn the heat to high until the liquid reaches a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and cook the lentils, stirring occasionally, for about 25 minutes or until the lentils are very soft.
Step 6: Add the lemon juice and blend the soup. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup until ultra creamy and velvety. If you don't have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup in batches to a high speed blender. Be careful not to overfill the blender, as the steam from the hot soup can make it explode. Taste and adjust the salt, lemon, and cumin to your liking.
Serve up this creamy, healthy, and delicious red lentil soup in a bowl and top it with whatever you like. My personal favorites are toasted pita chips, a lemon wedge, and some flaky salt. You could also add a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of cumin, and some fresh parsley.
Substitutions and Variations
This Lebanese red lentil soup is naturally vegan, dairy-free, and gluten-free, making it a great meal if you're plant-based or trying to eat more plant proteins!
- Broth: I always make this soup with water because it's how I grew up having it and love it as is. But if you'd like to add more flavor, feel free to use an equal amount of vegetable or chicken broth instead of water. Beef broth might be too overpowering.
- Spices: We like to keep it simple with just ground cumin, but feel free to make it your own and add other spices. Common variations include turmeric, black pepper, and chili pepper.
- Fresh garlic: Some people like to add minced garlic after sautéing the onions and carrots, but my family never uses garlic in this soup (shocking!) and I continue to make it that way because it is delicious as is.
Tips to make the best Lebanese red lentil soup
- Cook the lentils longer rather than shorter. The key to an ultra smooth and creamy soup is to basically overcook the lentils, onions, and carrots. If they are undercooked, the soup will be grainy.
- Don't be afraid to add more salt. Even if it seems like you've already used a lot of salt, if the flavor seems lacking, you need to add more salt. This soup can really use it because lentils are bland if under seasoned.
- Fresh lemon juice is key. For best flavor, use whole lemons and juice them yourself rather than using bottled lemon juice.
- Adjust the soup consistency to your liking. If you find that the soup is too thick after blending, add more water. If it is not as thick as you'd like, simmer it until it reduces to your desired consistency.
- Make homemade pita chips for topping. They taste way better than store-bought. If you have the time, you can make my easy pita bread recipe and then toast them. Or buy pita bread and toast it yourself. Break up pieces of the crunchy pita over your soup and enjoy!
Frequently Asked Questions
No, lentils do not require soaking as they are small and cook quickly. Red lentils in particular cook even faster. However, soaking them does improve digestion, so if you wish to do so, they'll need less time to cook. Check out this article about soaking lentils.
Yes, just like rice, you should rinse the lentils in cool water to remove any dust or debris that collected on them. Don't forget to look through and pick out any debris before cooking them.
Leftover red lentil soup should be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
Yes! Allow the soup to cool completely, then transfer to freezer safe containers and freeze up to 5 months. To use it, let it thaw in the fridge overnight then transfer it to a pot and reheat it on the stovetop, stirring frequently so the bottom doesn't burn.
My favorite recipes to pair with this lentil soup
Lebanese Red Lentil Soup (Shorbet Adas)
- ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 2 medium yellow onions, chopped
- 2 large carrots, chopped
- 1.5 tablespoons kosher salt, more to taste
- 1.5 teaspoons ground cumin
- 2 cups dried red lentils
- 6 cups water
- 3 large lemons, freshly juiced, adjust to taste
- Pita chips, optional, for topping
- Pick out any debris from the lentils and rinse well under cool water, then drain and set aside.
- Chop the onions and carrots, and juice the lemons.
- For Instant Pot: Set to "saute" and add the olive oil, onions, carrots, and salt. Cook until the onions are translucent or slightly golden, then add the ground cumin and cook for 30 seconds, until fragrant. For stovetop: Use a large pot to saute over medium heat.
- Add the rinsed lentils and toss together, then add in the water. For Instant Pot: Close the lid and set the valve to the sealed position, and pressure cook on high for 10 minutes, then natural release for 10 minutes. For stovetop: Cover the pot and increase the heat to high to bring the water to a boil, then reduce the hit to a simmer and cook for about 25 minutes, or until the lentils are very soft and mushy.
- Add the fresh lemon juice and place an immersion blender in the pot to blend until fully smooth and creamy. Alternatively, transfer the soup in batches to a high speed blender to blend.
- Taste the soup and adjust the salt, cumin, and lemon juice to your liking. Serve hot and garnish with pita chips and lemon wedges if desired.
Nutrition information provided is an estimate and may vary.