Lemon lentil soup is made with lentils, a type of dried bean from the legume family, and flavored with lemon juice. Additional seasonings and vegetables are also added to this soup. Often fairly simple to make, cooking times can be lengthy. Although specific ingredients vary, different versions of the soup are made in basically the same way.
A combination of chicken broth and water is usually used as the liquid base for lemon lentil soup. Chicken broth may be used alone for added flavor, or occasionally, water without the broth may be used instead. Sometimes the broth is boiled with spices and then strained to add additional flavoring before it is used in the soup.
Lemon lentil soup is often seasoned with a variety of spices and herbs. Bay leaves and garlic are usually included. Cilantro, dill, allspice, and basil all may be added. Spicier versions may add red chili flakes, turmeric, and cumin as their primary spices. Salt and pepper are often added to taste.
Usually brown or red lentils are used in this soup. Before the lentils can be included, they are first rinsed and any stones are removed. Lemon juice is also a key ingredient in lemon lentil soup. In addition to the juice, lemon zest may be included.
Although vegetables are not necessary, most versions of this soup contain at least two or three different kinds. Onions are almost always included. Carrots, celery, leeks, and parsnips may be added as well. Although tomatoes are not usually added, tomato puree may be used.
To make lemon lentil soup, the lentils, broth, and water are simmered. Meanwhile, the onions are sauteed in olive or canola oil. Most herbs and spices are mixed into the onions and sauteed as well. Once the mixture is fragrant, the vegetables are usually added and cooked before the mixture is added to the simmering soup. If cilantro is used, it may be pureed with olive oil and added directly to the soup.
After they begin to soften, some lentils may be removed, along with a portion of broth, and pureed. The mixture is then returned to the soup, which continues to simmer until the remaining lentils are soft. Lemon juice is normally added near the end of the cooking process and may be adjusted to taste. Total cooking time varies between 30 minutes and several hours. Lemon lentil soup may be garnished with chopped coriander or lemon slices.