moroccan red lentil soup

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Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

From the book Art of the Slow Cooker by
Serves 6 to 8
Prep Time 10 minutes
Total Time 4 hours


Forget your “same old, same old” lentil soup and take a deep breath. Can you smell the cumin, the coriander, the whiff of cinnamon? Open your eyes and take in the burnt-orange glow of turmeric burnished with tomatoes and sweet paprika. Lentil soups may come and go, but this concoction will stick in your memory, not just for its heady aromas and hearty texture, but also for its ease and versatility.

Unlike dried beans, red lentils don’t need to be soaked before they’re cooked. You can substitute 2 cups small dried white beans, soaked overnight, for the lentils. For a meaty soup, sauté 1 pound boneless, skinless dark chicken meat or leg of lamb, cut into 1/2-inch pieces, until browned; add the onion and proceed with the rest of the recipe.


2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
2 large onions, cut into medium dice (see Note)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin, preferably ground from whole seeds toasted in a dry skillet
1 tsp. ground turmeric
½ tsp. sweet paprika
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
tsp. kosher salt
½ tsp. ground black pepper
7 cups vegetable broth (see Note)
1 can (about 20 ounces) crushed tomatoes (see Note)
2 cups dried red lentils, picked over, washed, and rinsed
~ Pinch of red-pepper flakes
~ Juice of 1 lemon (see Note)
3 Tbsp. chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh cilantro


  1. Heat the olive oil in a large Dutch oven or saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic, coriander, cumin, turmeric, paprika, cinnamon, salt, and pepper, and cook for another minute. Add the broth and tomatoes and heat to boiling.
  2. Pour the mixture into a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Stir in the lentils, cover the cooker, and cook for 4 to 5 hours on high, or 8 to 10 hours on low, until the lentils are tender.
  3. Stir in the pepper flakes, lemon juice, parsley, and cilantro, cover, and cook on high for 10 minutes. Serve hot.


Culinate editor’s notes: If you don’t have a slow cooker, simply finish cooking the dish in the Dutch oven you start out using; the soup will be done much quicker, in about an hour or so.

One onion is plenty for this recipe. If you don’t have 7 cups vegetable broth, use 1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth and 3 cups water (you can also use chicken stock, if you prefer). Since canned tomatoes come in standard sizes of 14 1/2 and 28 ounces, not 20 ounces, use a 14 1/2-ounce can. And if you don’t have a fresh lemon handy, sprinkle some red-wine vinegar into the soup just before serving.

This content is from the book Art of the Slow Cooker by Andrew Schloss.

There are 22 comments on this item
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Average Rating 5
68% recommend this recipe
1. by cucee sprouts on Aug 3, 2010 at 10:58 AM PDT

I made a similar stew and it is now one of my favorite soups! Take a look at my post This Stew goes well with white wine.

2. by anonymous on Feb 19, 2011 at 7:47 PM PST

I made this tonight, exactly like the recipe says except for the slow cooker; I don’t have one. I have to tell you, the husband was skeptical and prepared to eat something else. He has never cared for lentils. I still wanted to make it for myself anyway, as I was curious about all those flavors and seasonings together and I do like lentils. I made basmati rice to go with it, and a mixture of steamed veggies as well. We BOTH liked it. Hubby went for seconds and said, “I’d eat this again.” I’m not kidding at all. This is going to be a staple in our house as neither of us eats much meat, but we both work out and need to be creative with protein to be sure we get enough. Thanks for digging up this recipe for us!

3. by anonymous on Mar 2, 2011 at 5:16 PM PST

I have now made this twice, in just two weeks as we both, really, really! like it. It’s so easy to make, and not expensive. If you don’t have all the spices, buy them in bulk at FM or WF, in small amounts before committing to a larger bottle. The second time I made it, I added small diced baby organic carrots halfway through the cooking time. (I made it on the stove, on a gas flame, very, very low) I also made it the day before, and let it meld in the fridge overnight. Either way, this is a winner if you like lentils!

4. by Deborah on Jan 27, 2012 at 4:00 PM PST

Red lentils are my favorite, and this recipe did not disappoint. The spices give it such a nice aroma and taste. I didn’t have cilantro, but we didn’t miss it. I don’t have a slow cooker, so I just cooked it in my Dutch oven on very low heat for a couple of hours. I served it over basmati rice. My husband liked it too.

5. by Dallee Kenner on Apr 4, 2012 at 10:14 AM PDT

THis is now my favorite soup to make oh a whim. Make sure that you have fresh cilantro on hand though as that makes all the difference. Love, love LOVE this recipe!

6. by anonymous on Jul 22, 2012 at 6:09 PM PDT

We love this recipe!! We have made it 4 or 5 times already. It is so versatile. We’ve made it with red lentils, urad dhal, and today we started making it and realized we only had a tiny bit of red lentils left, so we had to substitute and use yellow split peas and some small white beans (that we precooked somewhat). Still turned out fabulous! It is really hard to go wrong with this recipe. The flavors are just so awesome!

7. by anonymous on Dec 10, 2012 at 12:04 PM PST

Moroccan Red Lentil Soup

8. by Karen on Dec 31, 2012 at 6:09 PM PST

Really good! I have to admit that I made a couple of changes - due to unforeseen missing ingredients - plus things I eyed in the fridge: It turned out I only had 1 1/2 cups of red lentils, so I topped off the second cup with quinoa; also, I didn’t have fresh cilantro or parsley, so I used dried; then I had an inch-long chunk of fresh ginger root that wasn’t going to last very much longer, so I diced it really finely and added that (sauteed with the onions, etc.); finally, I had two, small, tart apples, and for some reason decided to skin and chop them and throw them in the pot. I know that what I ended up with can only be called “Moroccan-inspired,” but it sure tasted great!

9. by anonymous on Jan 5, 2013 at 9:01 PM PST

Really loved the recipe! Just made it this afternoon, and it is delicious. If you like Mediterranean fresh taste, this is it. This recipe is a keeper for sure! Even if you follow the recipe just as a guide and change few things, you won’t go wrong with it. Btw, I cooked everything on the stove, and it was no problem. Just make sure to cook it on low temperature and not for too long, because red lentils are very tender. The changes I made was 1 cup of red lentils and 2 cups of cooked chickpeas and I added 2 smaller carrots and used fresh tomatoes. That’s it! Try the recipe!

10. by anonymous on Jan 17, 2013 at 7:55 AM PST

Does red lentils need all those long hours to cook? I don’t think so. One should never assume that any user is an experienced cook.

11. by Jessica on Jan 19, 2013 at 1:20 PM PST

I made this red lentil soup, but did not have the’s ok still tasted great!
I actually put it on the stove with all the ingrediants then transferred to crock pot, it needed nore water cause it turned out mushy instead of soupy, all in all everyone loved it!

12. by Ellen on Feb 2, 2013 at 6:28 PM PST

Made this as to the ingredients in your recipe & it’s almost done, but did do in stockpot as I do all my soups. Sure I will like it as made another red lentil soup recipe. This was easier since not as many vegetables but liked the spices in this to try too. Time for that soup. Thanks to share great recipe !!

13. by anonymous on May 28, 2013 at 4:45 AM PDT

I checked this after 7 hours and it had developed like a CM thick skin and the lentils burnt to the bottom of the crockpot, it was definitely on low, what am i doing wrong? (still tasted awesome after a rigorous stir)

14. by anonymous on Oct 31, 2013 at 7:23 PM PDT

I love this recipe. I use it as a base for other food. Today I cooked some frozen shrimp and peas in it and it was wonderful. I also today tried one change (I have made this a bunch of times); I threw in some cardamom seeds, and it really made the taste pop, even though it’s fine without it. Strongly suggested. I also like the book “Art of the Slow Cooker,” from which I have made a bunch of other recipes

15. by anonymous on Nov 18, 2013 at 11:41 AM PST

That was delicious! I didn’t even have fresh parsley/cilantro on hand. I also didn’t have enough vegetable broth, so just added a pinch of seasonings like veggie broth (celery salt, dried parsley, thyme, and a small bay leaf.) And ate with rice.
I made it for my husband to take to work for dinner and he ate it for breakfast! He ate half the pot!!!!! Not sure what he’s going to do for dinner now. :)
Thank you!
P.S. Yes, the red lentils need that long to cook. That’s what’s so great. I can forget about it. Mine were still a little firm after 8 hrs on low. I will put a little more water in it next time too. It looked like too much water in the crockpot, but it is definitely not.

16. by Ivona Poyntz on Nov 29, 2013 at 8:25 AM PST

Good recipe, also, its possible to boil the lentils rapidly separately for 20 minutes and add to onion and spice mixture for a quicker finish time.

17. by Matthew G. Monroe on Feb 12, 2014 at 9:23 AM PST

I’ve been making a similar recipe for years, though mine has more of an East Indian influence to it, and includes fresh grated ginger and (totally optional) shredded chicken. Still, I’d imagine our dishes are very close in flavor –– and it’s an absolutely delicious flavor, by the way.

I actually blogged about my version of the dish, recently. You can find the full recipe (and a pretty picture or two) over here:

18. by suzicruzi on Feb 13, 2014 at 6:39 AM PST
Rating: five

Thank you Matthew for your recipe addition! I’ve been making this at least monthly ever since it appeared on Culinate. I absolutely, and simply LOVE this recipe! Now I will try yours and compare the two. You are right, in that they seem similar, except for the ginger (which I’ve been tempted to put in this anyway) and the chicken.

19. by anonymous on Feb 27, 2014 at 10:05 AM PST
Rating: five

This recipe was fantastic!! My slight modifications were using 6 cups chicken broth (42 oz container) + 2 cups of water. Sauteed 1” fresh grated ginger. Used 20oz of tomato. Added a few extra shakes of cumin. An extra clove of garlic. Slow cooked for 9 hours on low. Threw in a lot more than 1 tbs cilantro at the end - more like half a bunch! Next time I might add a little cayenne pepper or serrano peppers to increase the spice (but note that the recipe is perfect as is if you don’t want heat).

20. by anonymous on Apr 6, 2014 at 8:51 AM PDT

Just made the soup using chicken broth. It was a success. One of the best soups I have ever tasted!! if not the best!

21. by sharon fisher on May 8, 2014 at 8:22 PM PDT

Honestly, the main thing I used this recipe for was the spice amounts and proportions. :) I made a big batch of lamb stock and used that, used leeks instead of onions because I was out of them, added celery and carrots and a red bell pepper, and cooked it all with a package of ground lamb. Came out yummy! I’m looking forward to tasting it after it’s cooked down more. The idea of apples and rice in it sounds really good! I’m also tempted to add a half cup or so of peanut butter to make it more of an African soup.

22. by anonymous on Jun 29, 2014 at 12:41 PM PDT

This was wonderful! I’m a novice with lentils and made red lentils to go with some lettuce wraps, only I hadn’t realized how mushy they get. I didn’t want to waste the lentils so I looked for a soup recipe and since I had all of these ingredients, I tried this one. It is superb!! I did add two ears worth of corn, some leftover roasted sweet potatoes (small cubes), and about a half cup more red lentils. It is a delight! Thank you!

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