Mediterranean Lentil Soup

Lentil soup is one of my all-time favorite soups. I can’t believe I waited until the end of Ramadan to finally make a huge pot, but it’ll keep us nice and happy for the last few days of it, insha’allah. Check out the giveaway at the end for a chance to get some of the same wholesome ingredients found in this recipe.

Warm lentil soup is so perfect for Iftar 

I grew up eating lentils, but probably not like most people. My Sicilian grandmother, Nonna, used to serve it to us with pasta in a dish called lenticchie. It was a delicious, but rare dish she served mostly in the fall on cool days so we could warm up nicely. The brown lentils always made the pasta a bit grainy, which I didn’t’ like so much, but the addition of freshly grated Pecorino or Romano cheese on top made up for every last bit of it.

jar of lentils

Now, I typically make lentils in soup and have come up with a tried and true version we like at home. It took me a while to get a schedule going to prepare for it because I like to use the fresh lentils, which requires soaking them overnight, or for a couple of nights.

This recipe also has another special meaning for me because I actually had a taste-tester outside of the family that was quite unexpected. Long story short is this…

Sheikh Yusuf Estes was in Chicago more than five years ago to perform a lecture, one that I was not personally able to attend. Shortly before the event, someone told me that the Sheikh wasn’t feeling so well and needed something simple and warm to eat and would I mind making a soup for him? Of course I was delighted to cook it for him, but was a bit nervous about whether or not it would nourish him the way he needed at the time. After the Sheikh ate my soup, I was handed a piece of paper by the person who was there with him. It was the most beautiful hand-written du’a for me by Sheikh Yusuf. I have saved it as a token of the privilege of being able to cook for such a respected scholar, and it was a dish he seemed to sincerely enjoy.

So, on to the recipe I hope you’ll also make to nourish and warm all the special people around you, as well….

dried herbs

Start out by soaking lentils in water overnight, or for two nights if you have a large amount such as in this recipe.

You’ll also need some fresh tomatoes, an onion, a few garlic cloves, salt and pepper, plus fresh or dried herbs.

Always get the best olive oil you can afford- it really does make a difference in the end result. Use{halal} chicken broth for extra rich flavor; Saffron Road also carries a vegetable broth that is suitable for vegetarians so you can make this dish completely free of animal products.

                   Sauté onions in oil until they’re nice and translucent.

       then add the tomatoes

and the lentils

then the stock

also referred to as simply “broth”

I start out with two cups at a time to see how much liquid I really want or need.

In this case I ended up with four cups but you could do less or more, depending on how you like your soup- some people like it on the thicker side; others less so.

 This actually looks like a lot of liquid, but it’s going to cook down a bit.

for at least 45 minutes

then blend half of the pot with an immersion blender if you have one (and the stove off). Otherwise you can use a regular blender, but you’ll need the mixture to cool off before doing that.

after blending the soup

See? It’s thicker now…and even more so after an additional 20-40 minutes of cooking.

lentil soup on right

Serve with fresh parsley or cilantro on top, a drizzle of olive oil and a few lemon quarters to squeeze on top, too. So healthy and really delicious and nutritious…

Mediterranean Lentil Soup [aka: Shaykh Yusuf’s Lentil Soup]

Serves 6-8


2-4 tablespoons olive oil

1 yellow onion, or about 3 ½ ounces, diced
3 large Roma tomatoes, or about 10 ounces, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups brown lentils (measured after they have been soaked overnight)
2 teaspoons salt
¼ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
½ teaspoons dried mint (optional)
1 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoons basil (optional)
1 teaspoon dried thyme
4 cups Saffron Road Chicken broth
Fresh parsley or cilantro
Lemon wedges or quarters


In a large Dutch oven over medium flame, heat the oil.  Sauté the onions until translucent, then add the tomatoes then the garlic. Stir well and let them absorb the oil.

Add the lentils and all of the dried herbs and spices. Pour the broth over the top.

Continue to cook over medium-high for about 45 minutes to one hour, after which the lentils should have softened significantly. Turn the heat off then use an immersion blender to blend ½ or more of mixture. Alternatively, let the soup cool significantly then add half of it to a blender, then return it to the pot.

 Continue to cook on medium-low heat for another 20-40 minutes before serving. Ladle into bowls and add a bit of fresh parsley or cilantro plus a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil on top. Serve with fresh lemon or lime on the side.

About the Giveaway

 Saffron Road is giving away a $50 Whole Foods gift certificate to one randomly-selected participant.

To enter, please read our  Official Giveaway Guidelines page first then add a relevant comment about this recipe and its contents in order to be entered.  Entering indicates you have read the guidelines. Giveaway ends at 12:01 am on August 19, 2012.



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  1. I love lentil soup sooo much this one is much the same way my grand mother made hers, some thing I have truely missed since her passing as she was my inspiration to begin cooking

  2. What a wonderful recipe! Being of Pakistani origin, we use lentils A LOT, but not in soup style – ours, as you probably know, is more spiced and usually goes over rice. So it was refreshing to see my favorite lentils, or daal as we call it, in a different way! I can’t wait to try this recipe!

  3. Reading this recipe before putting together my grocery list….my mouth watered from the delicious photos alone!! Now I know exactly what I’m cooking for this week end…and thank you for Sheik Yusuf’s recipe….and for all the lovely new products we will soon try…

  4. My sister-in-law and I were just talking about making lentil soup last night. She had never cooked with lentils before, and I was trying to recollect my mother’s recipe, but couldn’t. I will surprise her with this one and I can’t wait to try it myself; perhaps for iftar tomorrow, inshaAllah. Thanks MyHalalKitchen!

  5. It is such a blessing from Almighty that we can put together few simple ingredients to bring out a delicious heart warming soup . Saffron Road’s Broths are an added blessing. I love that every sip of this soup gives a dose of nutrition as well.

  6. The soup looks Delicious I made a big pot of Harira this Ramadan for the 2nd time the 1st time I tried it was horrible this time around it was much better but now I am going to try and make this recipe here for Eid I think it will be lovely!

  7. I would like to try this recipe and make it today but I think the timing is not going to allow for but I will make it for Eid InshaAllah! I would love to try Saffron Road products as well they all look so good!

  8. Growing up in an arab household we had the occasional lentil soups and stews here and there but once i married a pakistani i discovered a whole new outlook on lentils. Spicy lentil soup to curried lentils to even lentils mixed with chicken. I would certainly love to try the Saffron Road’s cooking broth as I have never bought ready made broth before but after looking at your pictures from the recipe this looks delicious!

  9. What a wonderful story to go along with this soup! And this soup looks amazing! We love this lentil but I usually prepare it with red chilli flakes, turmeric and ginger garlic paste with a tadka using garlic. I will have to give your recipe a try soon!

  10. I love lentil soup, My version has been okay. I was not using broth in mine. I can’t wait to try this version. Such a blessing to have the prayer as a memento.

  11. I have been making lentil soup for the past twenty years but this is the first recipe I have seen with fresh tomatoes. I will definitely try it tonight!

    With dua’a,


  12. We love red lentil soup at our house and it’s so easy to make so I wonder why I always wait to make it in Ramadan? This looks like a nice variation so insha’Allah I’ll try this one and see how my husband likes it.

  13. This definitely looks delicious! I think the whole family will enjoy.

    I usually things of fall/winter with lentils. I haven’t done much with lentils lately, but who says you can’t cook lentils in summer?

    I will be writing this recipe down and preparing this soon, inshaAllah.

  14. Tis looks so much better than what I ended up with the last time I tried to make lentil soup. I can’t wait to try it!

  15. That looks so good. I’ve never soaked lentils before, maybe that will help me. The last few times I’ve made lentil soup, I’ve been really disappointed because it just wasn’t right. The lentils were not right, maybe the soaking is key.

  16. This lentil soup looks wonderful! I only recently discovered how delicious lentils can be, thanks to some good Pakistani and Indian friends. I do not try to make soups very often, as I’m never quite sure of the best way to prepare them, especially lentils, which I had not had much exposure to in the past. However, this recipe sounds so good, and your instructions for preparing this soup are so helpful and easy to follow, that I just might be able to make this. 🙂

  17. This recipe looks delicious. i never though about using chicken broth in lentil soup. I have some leftover saffron road vegetable broth and this seems like the perfect recipe to finish it off with! cant wait to try it. thank you for your delicious recipes and all your tips for making food taste good.

  18. I LOVE lentils! I’ve only discovered them about 3 years ago. My very favorite way to have them is with diced sweet potato and spiced with curry powder. The sweet and spicy contrast is delicious…and healthy too!

  19. Its simply great you could cook for such a scholar. Its worth watching his lecture videos that gives up a boost of Eeman. Btw, i pressure cook lentils with a lil salt and turmeric powder; saute onions, tomatoes and spinach with pinch of spices and mix it up with the cooked lentils..we usually make this to go with rice and is the simplest favourite of everyone at home.

  20. very yummy, pretty average for your lentil soup, made similar versions…fasting right now, gotta look away lol

  21. I love lentil soup. My Italian coworker introduced me to black lentil soup last year and I’ve been hooked since. Will try it with you recipe inshallah….

  22. There’s a big jar of lentils in the back of a kitchen cupboard just waiting for this recipe! However, instead of using fresh tomatoes, after the lentils are cooked, I’m going to put in 14.5 oz of Trader Joe’s Organic Diced & Fire Roasted Tomatoes w/ green chiles – just for that extra “wow” factor.

  23. I would love to try this! I love making soup for my family and this seems like the perfect recipe for them.

  24. This is similar to a lentil soup I make but I would never have thought of using mint! I will have to try your version soon. Sometimes I put browned cut-up vegetarian sausage in mine to make it even heartier.

  25. I enjoy making various types of Lentil soup. Unfortuantely our Whole foods does not carry the Saffron Broth but they do carry some of the simmer sauces. Look forward to trying this recipe.

  26. Lentil soup is on my list of hearty fall soups. Its going to be cold soon! Would love to try this. Eid Mubarak!!

  27. What an honor to make this dish for Sheikh Yusuf Estes. Thanks so much for sharing the recipe with all of us. I love lentils. Growing up my parents always put bite size pieces of potato and carrots in it 🙂

  28. Eid Mubarak, I love this recipe, I love lentils ! I just copied this recipe into my dropbox. I looks so good, I love the new graphics in thus post.

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