Soup is love! Consider this post a big hug from me!!
Pescatarian’s enjoy a plant based diet supplemented with seafood. One of the easiest and most delicious ways to get in your daily intake of vegetables is a hearty soup. This gorgeous red lentil lemon soup cooks up in about 30 minutes and will make you wonder why you don’t cook lentils more often!
This is a Middle Eastern – inspired recipe that is one of my favorite comfort meals. It’s a super flavorful plant-based soup that uses simple ingredients along one fancy one – preserved lemons.
What are preserved lemons?
Preserved lemons are essentially lemons preserved in salt and lemon juice and allowed to ferment for at least 3 weeks and up to 1 year. This process results in highly concentrated lemon flavor with a bit of a bite.
Lemons were originally preserved for the same reason most things are preserved—to store and eat them past their season. According to the Encyclopedia Of Kitchen History the earliest mention of preserved lemons dates back to the 11th century in North Africa – Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia. Read more here.
You can purchase preserved lemons in some markets or order jars online, however it’s very easy to make them at home. I use organic Meyer lemons for my recipe. They are the closest to the variety of lemons used in Morocco, beldi lemons, which is the mecca of preserved lemons. I will be posting a video tutorial on making preserved lemons soon.
Red lentils cook quickly and have a slightly sweet flavor. They are rich if fiber and protein and packed with folate, iron, phosphorus, magnesium, zinc and potassium
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 medium Spanish onion, diced
- 2 large stalks celery, diced small
- 2 large carrots, diced small
- 1 tablespoon coriander powder
- 1 tablespoon cumin powder
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1 tablespoon turmeric
- 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth
- 2 cups water
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 springs fresh thyme, leaves only
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 1 cup red lentils
- ½ medium or 3 tablespoons preserved lemon, skin only, diced. If you don’t have access to preserved lemon add a wide piece of fresh lemon peel.
- 1 teaspoon red pepper flake
- 1 medium Meyer lemon, juice only
- Serving option: Toasted pita bread
In a medium sized heavy bottom pot add the olive oil, onion, celery and carrot. Cook until soft and fragrant, about 3 minutes. Toss in the ground coriander, cumin, paprika and turmeric and cook for another minute. Keep in mind that turmeric can stain coking utensil and counter tops so take care.
Pour in the water, vegetable broth and add the tomato paste, and thyme. Stir to combine and cook for 10 minutes.
Add the red lentils, preserved lemon and cook for an additional 10 minutes. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.
Turn off the heat and use an immersion or “stick” blender and blend for 5-10 seconds . The soup should remain slightly chunky, were looking to smooth it out just a bit. If using a blender or food processor, add half of the soup to the container and give it few pulsed the add back to the pot.
Turn the heat to a low simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add a little more water if the soup is too thick. Squeeze the juice of the Meyer lemon over the soup, careful not to add seeds. Stir and serve immediately with toasted pita if desired.