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Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices

Prep time: 10 minutes | Total time: about 45 minutes | Serves 4

This recipe is from Uncomplicated, excerpted by Best Health Magazine. Photography by Suech and Beck.

There’s a wonderful bakery and café in Guelph, Ontario, called With the Grain, where I worked part-time for a few years. I made two soups every day from the café’s treasured collection of recipe cards, but every now and then during a busy lunch rush, I’d find myself “in the weeds”—restaurant speak for being up the creek without any soup left in the pot. A simple lentil soup recipe always came to my rescue.

Years later, in a pinch about what to make for supper one day, I remembered how easy that soup was and developed my own. There’s nothing to soak, chop or sauté; you just simmer dried lentils with water, then stir in some spiced butter at the end. When I’m "in the weeds" at home—rushing out the door after breakfast with no plan for dinner—I’ll chuck lentils and water in the slow cooker and consider supper all but made.

This is a particularly approachable lentil dish for children. Just omit (or reduce) the cayenne and double the honey.

Creamy Red Lentil Soup with Warm Spices


  • 1 ½ cups red lentils

  • 7 cups water

  • ¼ cup butter

  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander

  • 2 teaspoons chili powder

  • 1 teaspoon salt

  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin

  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder

  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom (or a pinch of allspice)

  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne (optional)

  • 2 tablespoons liquid honey

  • Croutons and toasted pepitas, for garnish (optional)


  1. Combine the lentils and water in a large pot. Bring to a boil. (Don’t leave the pot unattended, as lentils have a tendency to be quiet one moment and boil over furiously the next.) Reduce the heat, then cover and simmer gently, stirring occasionally, for 25 minutes or until the lentils dissolve completely and the soup looks relatively smooth.

  2. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir in the coriander, chili powder, salt, cinnamon, cumin, garlic powder, cardamom and cayenne (if using), and cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in the honey, then scrape the mixture into the lentils and stir well to combine.

  3. Ladle into 4 bowls and garnish with croutons and pepitas of you like.

Make ahead: The soup lasts well in the fridge for up to 5 days. Reheat gently on the stove.

Slow cooker: Reduce water to 6 cups. Combine with lentils in a slow cooker and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 3 hours. The lentils should be completely dissolved and smooth after you stir them a few times. Cook the spiced butter on the stove and add to the soup.

Click here to download a printable version of the recipe:

Claire Tansey_ Creamy Red Lentil Soup
Download PDF • 104KB

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