Red Lentil Soup with Saffron


This hearty red lentil soup uses spices common in Persian cuisine: turmeric, cumin and saffron. Enjoy it with a warm baguette or steamed rice.

Red Lentil Soup with Saffron
Photo: Jacob Fox
Active Time:
20 mins
Total Time:
40 mins


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

  • 2 medium carrots, finely diced

  • 2 stalks celery, finely diced

  • 1 large onion, finely diced

  • 3 cloves garlic, minced

  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste

  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin

  • ¼ teaspoon crushed saffron threads

  • ¼ teaspoon ground turmeric

  • 4 cups low-sodium no-chicken or chicken broth

  • 1 ½ cups water, plus more as needed

  • 1 pound red lentils (2 cups), picked over and rinsed

  • 5 ounces spinach, coarsely chopped

  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper

  • Plain yogurt & chopped fresh mint for garnish


  1. Heat oil in a large heavy pot over medium heat. Add carrots, celery and onion and cook until starting to soften, 7 to 10 minutes. (Do not brown.) Stir in garlic, tomato paste, cumin, saffron and turmeric and cook for 1 minute.

  2. Add broth, water, lentils, spinach, salt and pepper. Bring to a simmer. Adjust heat to maintain a simmer, cover and cook, stirring as needed to prevent sticking, until the lentils and vegetables are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add more water if desired.

  3. Garnish with yogurt and mint, if desired.

To make ahead:

Refrigerate for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 3 months.

Nutrition Facts (per serving)

280 Calories
7g Fat
42g Carbs
15g Protein
Nutrition Facts
Servings Per Recipe 8
Serving Size generous 1 cup
Calories 280
% Daily Value *
Total Carbohydrate 42g 15%
Dietary Fiber 8g 29%
Total Sugars 2g
Protein 15g 30%
Total Fat 7g 9%
Saturated Fat 1g 5%
Sodium 364mg 16%
Potassium 512mg 11%

Nutrition information is calculated by a registered dietitian using an ingredient database but should be considered an estimate.

* Daily Values (DVs) are the recommended amounts of nutrients to consume each day. Percent Daily Value (%DV) found on nutrition labels tells you how much a serving of a particular food or recipe contributes to each of those total recommended amounts. Per the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the daily value is based on a standard 2,000 calorie diet. Depending on your calorie needs or if you have a health condition, you may need more or less of particular nutrients. (For example, it’s recommended that people following a heart-healthy diet eat less sodium on a daily basis compared to those following a standard diet.)

(-) Information is not currently available for this nutrient. If you are following a special diet for medical reasons, be sure to consult with your primary care provider or a registered dietitian to better understand your personal nutrition needs.

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