Lemony Black Lentil Soup with Crispy Kale and Yogurt

updated Jun 25, 2021
Mediterranean Monday
Lemony Black Lentil Soup with Crispy Kale and Yogurt

This wholesome and hearty vegetarian lentil soup is both smoky and bright, which is thanks to cumin, coriander, and lots of lemon.


Prep15 minutes

Cook25 minutes to 30 minutes

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Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig; Food Styling: Catrine Kelty

This brothy bowl of lentils, warmly spiced with cumin and coriander and brightened up with lemon zest and juice, is the ultimate way to usher in soup season. Crispy kale chips lend salty crunch, a generous sprinkle of red pepper flakes adds heat, and a dollop of yogurt provides a creamy, cooling effect. It’s the most interesting thing to happen to lentil soup in a long time, so I implore you to head into the kitchen and ready that Dutch oven.

Beans and Lentils: The Fourth Key Building Block in the Mediterranean Diet

Throughout this series, I’ve been discussing the most important players in the Mediterranean diet, including whole grains and fish. Today, I want to talk about beans and lentils. They’re a rich source of plant-based protein, fiber, and other nutrients like folate, magnesium, and potassium. While white beans, chickpeas, and lentils are some of the most common varieties found in the Mediterranean diet, you’ll reap these benefits from all legumes, including black beans, kidney beans, and more.

What’s also wonderful about beans and legumes is that they’re easy on your wallet regardless of whether they’re canned or dried — proof you don’t have to spend a lot to eat well. This soup recipe, using one of my favorite varieties of lentils, is the perfect example.

Credit: Photo: Kristin Teig; Food Styling: Catrine Kelty

An Earthy, Bold Pot of Soup, Thanks to Black Lentils

Black lentils are the key ingredient in this soup. They aren’t as widely known as brown, green, or red lentils, but should be. I became hooked on them a few years ago when I discovered a bag at my local grocery store and couldn’t walk away from their caviar-like appearance. They’re rich in flavor and practically meaty — a bit like black beans in lentil form. They also won’t completely fall apart, even after simmering on the stove for awhile, so this soup delivers a whole lot more texture than your usual brown lentil soup.

Welcome to Mediterranean MondaySheela Prakash‘s new monthly column of Mediterranean recipes. Here, Sheela will teach you all about the Mediterranean diet’s feel-good way of cooking and eating, and share vibrant, easygoing recipes. Cook with us using #mediterraneanmonday, and for even more great recipes, order a copy of Sheela’s cookbook Mediterranean Every Day.

Lemony Black Lentil Soup with Crispy Kale and Yogurt

This wholesome and hearty vegetarian lentil soup is both smoky and bright, which is thanks to cumin, coriander, and lots of lemon.

Prep time 15 minutes

Cook time 25 minutes to 30 minutes

Serves 6

Nutritional Info


  • 1

    medium bunch curly kale (8 to 10 ounces)

  • 1

    medium yellow onion

  • 4 cloves


  • 1

    small lemon

  • 2 cups

    dried black lentils (about 1 pound)

  • 4 tablespoons

    olive oil, divided, plus more for serving

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons

    kosher salt, divided, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground cumin

  • 1/2 teaspoon

    ground coriander

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    red pepper flakes, plus more for serving

  • 6 cups

    low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth

  • 1/2 cup

    whole or 2% plain Greek yogurt


  1. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and heat the oven to 300°F. Meanwhile, prepare the vegetables and cook the lentils.

  2. Strip the leaves from 1 bunch curly kale and reserve the sturdy stems. For extra insurance, pat dry with paper towels — you want the kale to be as dry as possible in order for it to crisp. Tear the leaves into bite-sized pieces (6 to 7 packed cups) and divide between 2 rimmed baking sheets. Chop the stems into 1/4-inch pieces.

  3. Dice 1 medium yellow onion. Mince 4 garlic cloves. Finely grate the zest of 1 small lemon. Juice the zested lemon into a small bowl.

  4. Place 2 cups dried black lentils in a fine-mesh strainer. Pick through the lentils, discarding any broken or discolored ones. Rinse under cool water until the water runs clear, about 1 minute. Set aside to drain while you cook the vegetables.

  5. Heat 3 tablespoons of the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion and kale stems and sauté until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the garlic, 1 teaspoon of the kosher salt, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 1/2 ground coriander, and 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes. Cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

  6. Add the lentils and 6 cups broth, stir to combine, and bring to a simmer. Cover and reduce the heat to maintain a gentle simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally until the lentils are tender, 25 to 30 minutes. Meanwhile, roast the kale leaves.

  7. Drizzle the remaining 1 tablespoon olive oil and sprinkle the remaining 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt evenly over the kale leaves. Use your hands to massage it into the leaves to coat. Spread the kale into an even layer. Bake, stirring the kale and rotating the baking sheets between racks halfway through, until the kale is crisp, 18 to 20 minutes total.

  8. When the soup is ready, remove from the heat. Stir in the lemon zest and half of the lemon juice. Add 1/2 cup Greek yogurt to the small bowl of remaining lemon juice, season with a pinch of kosher salt, and stir to combine.

  9. Divide the soup among bowls. Top with the crispy kale, a dollop of lemon yogurt, a drizzle of olive oil, and more crushed red pepper flakes if desired.

Recipe Notes

Storage: While the kale chips are best eaten within a few hours, they can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 day. Leftover soup and lemon yogurt can be refrigerated separately in airtight containers up to 5 days.