Make Ahead

Carrot, Sweet Potato, and Red Lentil Soup with Moroccan Flavors

September 24, 2013
5 Ratings
Photo by James Ransom
  • Serves 6 to 8
Author Notes

This is essentially a "clean out the fridge and pantry" soup, but with the unifying themes of sweet, red, vegetables and lentils, and warm, spicy Moroccan flavors. Very satisfying on a crisp fall day to match the scenery! —Burnt Offerings

Test Kitchen Notes

WHO: Burnt Offerings is a healthcare consultant with a serious passion for food.
WHAT: A simple, 30-minute soup that'll taste like it took you all night to make.
HOW: Sauté, simmer, spice, then blend it all up. Ladle generously into bowls.
WHY WE LOVE IT: This soup has everything we need in a recipe: it's complex enough for an impressive dinner party, and simple enough for a bring-to-work lunch. On top of all that, it's even better if the flavors have had a bit of time to develop overnight. You'll want to make extra now. —The Editors

What You'll Need
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large Vidalia or sweet yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 large sweet potato, peeled and chunked
  • 5 to 6 large carrots, peeled and chunked (about 4 cups)
  • 1 cup red lentils
  • 8 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 1 tablespoon Harissa paste (I use Cava brand - a fresh paste available at most Mid-Atlantic Whole Foods)
  • 2 teaspoons Ras el Hanout
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • Nigella seeds (or black caraway) for garnish
  • Greek yogurt for garnish
  • Cilantro for garnish
  1. Sweat the onions in the olive oil for 6 to 8 minutes until soft and translucent.
  2. Add the remaining ingredients and spices except for garnishes.
  3. Bring to a boil and simmer gently for 25 minutes until the potatoes, lentils, and carrots are soft.
  4. Let the soup cool a little and blitz it with an immersion blender until smooth and creamy. If you want to add some cream or half and half, by all means go ahead, but you don't need to. TASTE the soup. Add more harissa, spice, salt and pepper as needed.
  5. Ladle soup into bowls and garnish with Nigella seeds, a dollop of Greek yogurt, and some cilantro.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sarah
  • Mae
  • Jenna Cardinale
    Jenna Cardinale
  • Anna
  • carlito

56 Reviews

shayna January 8, 2023
Easy, healthy and tasty
Sarah December 29, 2020
Fantastic soup! It’s so rare to find a soup with sweet potato that isn’t too sweet, but that still embraces the flavor. This is a perfect mix. I used garam masala with a bit more cayenne. And in the end, I did stir in some cream which made it a little more deluxe and a little less root-vegetables-are-good-for you.
Cindy October 15, 2019
Loved this! So easy and so full of flavors that I don't typically cook with. Will definitely make again.
macfly18 January 16, 2018
This was great. I agree with one commenter that it needed some acid, so I gave it a squeeze of lemon juice. The greek yogurt also gave it some tang. And I'll probably chop up some preserved lemon to add to the leftovers. I also roasted the carrot and sweet potato and cut the stock down to 6 cups, though I ended up needing to thin it out before serving. So maybe 8 cups would have been fine even with the roasted veggies. Overall, definite winner. This will go into our regular soup rotation.
Mae November 18, 2017
Yum! The first time I made this I followed the recipe to a T. This time, I used yellow split peas instead of red lentils (soaked them overnight so they'd cook faster) and I used garam masala instead of Ras el Hanout. So so so good! I love how warm the flavors are. And incredibly easy too!
Kelsey S. October 23, 2016
I don't have red lentils, but I do have brown lentils...would that work?
Burnt O. October 23, 2016
They will be fine. It just won't have the vibrant orange color and will look a little muddy. Should still taste great! Brown lentils have a stronger taste and texture than the red, but the other flavors will go fine with them.
Jenna C. September 30, 2016
Magic! I subbed Ras el Hanout with Baharat (allspice, pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, cloves, and coriander) and had a heavy pour on the harissa. Flavor explosion.
Miles W. January 27, 2016
I decided to make a meal of this by taking the meat off of a rotisserie chicken and putting it in the serving bowls before ladeling in the hot soup. Also doubled the harissa.
Here's the recipe for making your own Ras el Hanout from the Joy of Cooking cookbook...just mix together the following:
2 tbsp ground ginger
2 tsp black pepper
2 tsp ground allspice
2 tsp grated or ground nutmeg
2 tsp ground mace
2 tsp ground cardamom
2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground red pepper (I used cayenne)
ghainskom October 30, 2015
Skipped the harissa to make it kids-friendly and I didn't miss it. Much much much better the day after. We had it with cilantro for garnish and beetroot bread ( on the side. No need to double the recipe for 4 (2 adults and 2 kids), we even had leftovers. Definite keeper.
boggler October 4, 2015
Does anyone have any idea what the nutritional value of one serving of this soup would be? i.e. calories, carbs, etc.
boggler June 26, 2015
This still remains my all time favourite soup!
Anna June 26, 2015
I would say that although it was a 30-minute cooking time, the prep took quite a bit longer (granted, I just do things slowly). I didn't have any Harissa, so I exchanged that for some sriracha chilli sauce and a dash of ghost pepper sauce - which was perfect for a slow building but intense kick. My mom and little sister loved it, and so did I!
carlito November 3, 2014
This soup is the truth. So easy and so good. I made my own paste that resembled harissa by soaking a roasted bell pepper, roasted serrano pepper, roasted red jalapeno and dried guajillo chilies in boiling water and blending with coriander, cumin and salt.
LittleRobinRed June 25, 2014
Made this soup and loved it! I used a powdered Harissa, but failed to read the previous comment about halving the amount, so mine turned out extra spicy. It was still good, though. I added some turkey meatballs because I have the kind of hubby that doesn't know what to do it he doesn't see meat on the table, but it wasn't needed; the soup is a very satisfying meal on its own.
byb March 12, 2014
I made this soup last night and it is absolutely wonderful! The flavors compliment each other in a way that I wouldn't have expected. Now, because I'm always up for making extra work for myself, I'm wondering how the results would vary if the carrots and sweet potatoes were roasted a bit at a high temp to brown them a bit before they went into the pot. Has anyone given this a try?
Robin March 12, 2014
That's a great idea. Maybe add the lentils to the onions, stock and spices and let them cook then add the roasted veggies. Hmmm, that's worth a try. Roasting vegetables brings out so much flavor.
Robin March 11, 2014
Found this simply searching for a vegetable soup. What a hit with my family. I live in the DC metro area but couldn't find Ras el Hanout. My Moroccan friend had the spice. He brought it back from his homeland. If anyone knows where in Northern Virginia I can find this wonderful spice, it would be greatly appreciated. Also, for those, like me, that have never heard of Harissa paste I found Harissa (which Whole Foods considers a dip) in the refrigerator section. The brand is Cava. Couldn't find "paste" in any international stores. Is there a difference? Also, are all red lentils split?
Burnt O. March 11, 2014
Thanks Robin! I am a cooking instructor for Williams Sonoma - your local WS store should carry Ras el Hanout. I like the Cava brand of paste - very peppery and bright. My red lentils are whole. Very tiny.
anne March 2, 2014
I have made this twice now, with various measurements. The first time had no lentils, ras al hanout, harissa. Subbed mousaka spices (cinnamon, corriander, cumin) and chili sambal. Turned out great! Second time, only had half of a sweet potato, used extra carrot. Still delicious. So very warming on a rainy San Francisco night. And the aroma wafting from my apartment, well, a neighbor commented the next day! Thank you for a great soup that is so low on effort and so high in returns.
plainhomecook February 4, 2014
Thank you for tonight's wonderful dinner.
Rhonda35 February 3, 2014
I made this soup exactly as is right down to the garnishes and it was delicious. The next day, I decided to skip the garnishes and instead added a drizzle of blood orange olive oil...OMG! Out of the world! So, if you ever have the chance to scoop up some blood orange olive oil, go for it and then make this soup. :-)
boggler January 16, 2014
Question about soups in general. Should the pot be covered or uncovered when simmering? Thanks in advance for your answer.
Burnt O. January 16, 2014
In GENERAL, most soups only have to simmer 20-30 minutes, so it doesn't matter too much if the lid is on or off, but if you're making a soup that needs to be pureed later, or cook a longer time, like split pea, or bean soup, I say lid ON. If you're making a quick soup, or one whose flavor is enhanced by reducing a bit like French Onion, or chicken soup, or a richly flavored broth, I'd say lid off. Obviously, any stew needs a braise, so the lid would be on, so the steam helps to cook the meat and vegetables.
boggler January 21, 2014
Thank you!