Recipe Corner: Lydia Walshin’s Armenian Red Lentil Soup


Red lentils are ideal for a favorite Armenian soup like this one contributed by Lydia Walshin, a professional writer, long-time food blogger, and cook who lives in Boston’s Chinatown. From 2006-2016, she published a successful food blog, The Perfect Pantry®, and for years before that, she worked as a food writer and cooking instructor. The Perfect Pantry® features more than 250 pantry ingredients used in everyday cooking — common ingredients like salt, pepper, butter, flour — and ingredients fundamental to a wide range of ethnic cuisines, she says. (

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), lentils are one of the best food sources for potassium. Lentils add essential vitamins, minerals, and fiber to the diet. Cooking red lentils is easy because it involves a shorter cooking time and does not require pre-soaking. Red lentils are added to soups, stews, dals, curries and chilis, chunky vegan pasta sauces, and serve as a meat substitute for wraps, veggie burgers and meatless sloppy joes. They are appetizing cooked by themselves or served over pilaf or mixed with other vegetables.

Lydia says, “I was recently in an Armenian frame of mind to make something with red lentils. I made this delicious soup with bulgur, but you can substitute rice for the bulgur to make the soup gluten-free, and water for broth to make it vegan. If you don’t have Aleppo or Urfa biber — both varieties of Turkish pepper — use red pepper flakes, but I encourage you to try the slightly smoky, slightly sweet Turkish peppers (available online at The Spice House or Penzeys). Urfa biber is a dried Turkish chili pepper of the type Capsicum annuum cultivated in the Urfa region of Turkey. It is often described as having a smoky, raisin-like taste. Urfa biber is technically a red pepper, ripening to a dark maroon on the plant. You’ll want to make room for one or both on your spice rack. The consistency of the soup should be creamy as the lentils collapse into the broth,” she adds.

“Though I’m no longer creating recipes on The Perfect Pantry®, if cooking is your thing, please search there for hundreds of easy, mostly healthy recipes,” says Lydia. For Italian, Greek and Mediterranean recipes, see:

Note: Try Lydia’s tasty recipe for Red Lentil Rhubarb Soup:


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1-1/2 tablespoons olive oil, to taste

1 large or 2 medium onions, diced

2 cups red lentils (or a mix of red and white, or red and brown), rinsed and drained

1 cup rice or fine bulgur wheat

1 sprig fresh thyme

A big pinch of Aleppo or Urfa Biber pepper (or red pepper flakes)

10 cups water OR chicken or beef broth, homemade or low-sodium store-bought

2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice, plus some lemon zest (zest the lemon first, then juice it)

Kosher salt and fresh pepper

1/2 cup finely chopped flat-leaf parsley, to garnish


In a 5-quart Dutch oven or heavy stock pot, heat the oil over medium heat.

Sauté onions for 2-3 minutes, until translucent but not yet brown. Add the lentils, bulgur, thyme, and Aleppo pepper, and sauté for 30 seconds.

Add the water or broth. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 30-35 minutes or until lentils and bulgur are soft. Stir with a wooden spoon to encourage the lentils to “melt” into the liquid.

Taste and season with lemon juice, lemon zest, salt and pepper. The soup should be of a rustic consistency; for a smoother soup, use an immersion blender for preferred texture. Serve soup hot, topped with chopped parsley as garnish.

Serves 6-8.

For this recipe, go to:

For more soup recipes, go to:

For Armenian lentil recipes, go to:


Also see:


For spices:

ORDER TODAY: The Very Best Recipes From The Perfect Pantry®: Paperback – January 12, 2017. The author’s 82 favorite recipes — out of more than 2,000 — from ten years of the popular food blog.

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All text and images © 2010-2022 by Lydia Walshin, except as indicated. All photos from other blogs and sites are used with permission from the owner.

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