Get Well Soon Red Lentil Soup

lentil soup1

Growing up, whenever someone in my family caught a cold, my mother would immediately whip up some red lentil soup or shorabet ‘adas as we call it in Arabic.

There was something magical about this soup: The mix of spices, fresh lemon and onion always made me feel better as soon as I ate it.

As an adult, I still make when my husband or I catch a cold or sometimes when I simply need a hug in a bowl.

I wanted to share this recipe with you as the perfect antidote to the colds that are so frequent this season. This powerful soup combines immune-boosting onion, nutritional powerhouse lentils and vitamin C-filled lemon juice. You can eat it as a starter or a main meal: Make it more filling by adding some of the toppings mentioned below. I almost always add olives, since as a healthy fat, they make a meal more filling while also adding some umami!

A nutritional aside

Red lentils are actually one of the fastest lentils to cook – they don’t need to be soaked (only washed) and are a good source of protein and fiber. Lentils are also a very good source of iron, and the vitamin C in the lemon helps improve iron absorption in the body.

I love using red lentils in soups because they become mushy when cooked unlike brown or green lentils which stay intact.

The star of this recipe is without a doubt the ground cumin. Cumin is traditionally paired with lentils in Arabic and Indian food because it acts as a digestive aid. Cumin is also a very warming spice – perfect for the winter months ahead, as well as a good source of magnesium and iron. Not just a tasty addition, a healthy one, too!


2 cups red lentils, washed until the water is clear

4 cups or 1 liter water

2 onions, chopped

Ground cumin, salt & pepper to taste

Juice of 1/2 – 1 lemon – depends on the size of your lemon and how much you like the taste!


Heat oil and fry the onion. Once it is cooked, add the washed lentils, stir with the onions, then add water and bring to a boil. Once the water is boiling, reduce heat and leave for about 10-15 minutes until the lentils are mushy.

Add the ground cumin, salt and pepper to taste – I use about a large tablespoon of cumin.

Once the soup is ready, remove from the heat and add lemon juice.


Olives, capers, strips of grilled Arabic bread, steamed leafy greens like spinach, Swiss chard or kale or fresh spring onion for some added immunity boost.

I’d love to hear from you – what was your ‘Get well soon’ food growing up?