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A bright, earthy lentil soup

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Your standard lentil soup this is not. It’s brilliantly orange from red lentils, bright from lemon and earthy from cumin. This recipe is based on the Turkish soup mercimek corbasi, and it has taken its place among New York Times Cooking’s classics, with nearly 20,000 five-star reviews.

Red Lentil Soup


• 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for drizzling

• 1 large onion, chopped

• 2 garlic cloves, minced

• 1 tablespoon tomato paste

• 1 teaspoon ground cumin

• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (such as Diamond Crystal), plus more to taste

• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

• Pinch of chile powder or ground cayenne, plus more to taste

• 1 quart chicken or vegetable broth

• 1 cup red lentils

• 1 large carrot, peeled and diced

Juice of 1/2 lemon, more to taste

• 3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro


In a large pot, heat 3 tablespoons oil over high until hot and shimmering. Add onion and garlic, and sauté until golden, about 4 minutes.

Stir in tomato paste, cumin, salt, black pepper and chile powder, and sauté for 2 minutes longer.

Add broth, 2 cups water, lentils and carrot. Bring to a simmer, then partly cover pot and turn heat to medium-low. Simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Taste and add salt if necessary.

Using an immersion or regular blender or a food processor, purée half the soup, then add it back to pot. The soup should be somewhat chunky.

Reheat soup if necessary, then stir in lemon juice and cilantro. Serve soup drizzled with good olive oil and dusted lightly with chile powder, if desired.

Total time: 45 minutes, serves 4.

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