These days, everyone is trying to find ways to add flavor to their dishes without too much fuss.
Lentil soup is a great way to do just that.
But if you’re looking to make a truly delicious lentil soup, you’ll need to go the extra mile and add some spices.
Spices can add unexpected depth and complexity to a dish, and they can take a simple lentil soup and make it something your friends and family will be talking about for days.
In this article, I’ll be discussing 27 must-have herbs and spices for lentil soup.
From turmeric and cumin to coriander and cardamom, I’ll be covering all of the spices that can take your soup from good to great.
So get ready to learn about all of the herbs and spices that you need to make the perfect lentil soup!
Read Also: 10 Best Toppings for Lentil Soup
27 Best Herbs And Spices For Lentil Soup
I never settle for a flavorless lentil soup.
To make sure that my soup is bursting with flavor, I always make sure to include these 27 must-have herbs and spices:
1. Curry Powder
Curry powder may seem unfamiliar among Western cooks, but in India and other Far East countries, it’s a staple ingredient in many dishes.
It provides a rich flavor for lentil soup that’s beyond what you could get from just using fresh or dried herbs like rosemary or oregano.
A single teaspoon typically contains four or five spices: turmeric, coriander, cumin, and red pepper are the most common.
Depending on the mix used, there can also be cardamom, cinnamon, and nutmeg included as well.
These flavors have been blended together to create an incredibly complex taste experience that will delight your taste buds!
2. Red Pepper Flakes
Not only do red pepper flakes add flavor and depth, but the slight kick from the heat can really bring out all of the other flavors in your dish.
The trick to using red pepper flakes is not to go overboard.
A little pinch goes a long way so be sure not to overdo it as they can quickly overpower your creation.
To use them, start by adding just a bit at a time while you mix everything together, and give it time to sit for a while before adjusting further amounts if necessary.
Add the red pepper flakes towards the end of cooking so that their impact highlights all of your ingredients rather than being cooked out too early on in the process.
This will allow their flavors to stand out nicely during serving and make each bite extra flavorful!
3. Sea Salt
Shake things up by adding a pinch of sea salt.
Not only will it make your soup better-tasting and healthier, but it can also boost its nutritional value!
When cooking with sea salt instead of regular table salt you are able to control the amount that is added to your dishes more precisely because the crystals are denser than those in table salt.
This makes for an even flavoring throughout your meal.
4. Aleppo Pepper
Aleppo peppers are dried red chilies.
Their smoky flavor adds an amazing depth to any dish you add it to.
It is slightly spicier than the regular red chili powder but far milder than the common hot sauces available.
With its unique sweet heat, Aleppo pepper can create a conversation at dinner with just one dash!
5. Ground Cumin
Ground cumin has a warm, earthy flavor and is often used to add an extra layer of flavor to soups.
It brings out the existing notes of sweetness in your soup and adds a pungent boost.
When added on top as a garnish, cumin can provide an intriguing smoky flavor as well.
Its aromatic properties help bring out all the individual flavors in any soup recipe allowing you to blend and combine various ingredients for desired results.
Cumin pairs wonderfully with other spices like ginger, garlic, chili pepper flakes, and coriander making it great for spicing up your favorite soup recipes!
Thyme is a beloved herb for its fresh, bright flavor and floral aroma.
The unique combination of earthiness and citrusy notes makes it an ideal addition to soups.
It’s used to complement the other ingredients in a soup recipe, taking it from good to great.
In particular, thyme works especially well with cream-based soups or rich beef broths.
Thyme also pairs nicely with root vegetables like carrots, turnips, and potatoes found in many hearty winter stews or creamy chowders because of their earthy qualities.
Due to its subtle but distinctly herbal note at the end, thyme can elevate any dish if used sparingly as most aromatic herbs should be done (too much of anything can make your soup taste unpleasant).
Paprika adds a pleasant, mild smoky flavor to many dishes, including lentil soup.
It pairs very well with the earthy flavor of lentils and the savory taste of garlic, onions, and other vegetables.
Paprika also adds a lovely reddish hue to food which gives dishes like this extra visual appeal.
Using paprika in cooking will give your soup an extra depth of deliciousness that any professional chef would be proud of!
8. Smoked Paprika
Smoked paprika is an essential ingredient in any good lentil soup.
Not only does it add color and texture to the dish, but it also packs a flavor punch that you won’t get from other spices.
Smoked paprika gives this dish a smoky, earthy flavor that could almost transport you outdoors.
It’s reminiscent of the smokey flavors of barbecued meats without being too overpowering or overwhelming — and best of all, it gives your lentil soup an extra depth of taste effortlessly!
Saffron is a magical seasoning.
Its threads are like little sparks of sunshine that can instantly transform any dish from ordinary to extraordinary in terms of flavor.
It’s no wonder so many countries have adopted saffron as the main ingredient in their national dishes, such as paella and risotto in Spain, zarda pulao in India and Iran, manasik al-hassunah (the seven spices) soup in Syria and pancit lomi guisado in the Philippines.
In lentil soup specifically, saffron imparts an unmistakably warm flavor that complements the sweet garlic aroma while bringing out the earthiness of other ingredients used.
The unique yellow color it imparts also makes this hearty dish stand out even without adding vegetables or meats to your version.
10. Chili Powder
Chili powder is one of the most commonly used spices in lentil soup, and for good reason.
The combination of chili powder, garlic, onions, and other herbs adds a lot of complexity to soups that can’t be replicated with just one or two ingredients.
Chili Powder specifically helps give soup that extra kick; it provides a smoky flavor and heat which will liven up the traditional bowlful.
11. Cumin Seeds
Cumin seeds are an incredibly flavor-packed way to add some serious savory and subtle heat to a soup.
And with just the right proportion, they can totally take your dish up a notch.
While cumin and other spices often get pre-ground, nothing beats freshly toasting the cumin seed in order to maximize its flavor potential.
Keeping them whole instead of grinding them, not only adds more visual appeal but also enhances their flavor profile since they don’t release their essential oils until heated—a process known as ‘blooming’ that brings out some of their natural sweetness and smokiness.
When adding cumin seeds directly into soups or dishes without first toasting them, aim for about 1/2 teaspoon per one cup of soup broth or liquid in order for it adequately infuse the entire dish with its signature warm spice.
This should be adjusted according to taste preference, however.
12. Bay Leaf
Bay leaf is a popular culinary herb with a sweet and floral flavor.
It enhances the flavor and aroma of soups, stews, stock, and sauces as well as other savory dishes.
One of the greatest virtues of bay leaf is its ability to gently build up a deep and complex base layer of flavors in any soup or stew without overpowering the other ingredients.
This makes it an essential ingredient for many classic comfort foods that require just the right balance between nuanced depth and a bright personality.
For best results, use one whole bay leaf for every four cups (1L) of liquid in your recipe or 1/4 teaspoon of ground bay leaves per cup (240ml).
13. Dried Oregano
The aroma of oregano can make all the difference in a bowl of soup.
Its earthy and woody flavor adds a subtle spice to almost any savory dish and can add dimension to soups particularly well.
Oregano is one of the most commonly used herbs, especially in Italian cooking, but it also goes great with Mexican or Southwest-style dishes, too.
So if you’re looking for ways to switch up a boring old lentil soup recipe, try adding some dried oregano!
When it comes to how much oregano you should use in your soup, that typically depends on the other ingredients that are already in it–for example, tomato-based soups will have more volume so they may require more oregano than broth-based soups.
Basil is a versatile and flavorful herb that can be used to add aroma, color, and complexity to any dish. It’s no wonder that it goes so well with lentils!
This amazing pairing can take your soup from good to extraordinary.
Basil’s earthy flavor blends perfectly with the slightly nutty character of cooked lentils.
The combination of flavors creates an incredibly satisfying taste experience that will make all your guests eager for more!
To top it off, basil provides an unforgettable fragrance when served in hot dishes like this one.
When adding basil to your lentil soup, start by using two tablespoons of chopped leaves per serving.
This amount should provide enough flavor without overwhelming the other ingredients in the dish.
If you prefer a stronger herbal taste, you can increase the quantity of basil up to 1/4 cup per serving as desired.
15. Garlic Powder
Garlic powder is a magical ingredient that transforms any dish from basic to savory in no time at all.
Put simply, its flavor can enhance almost anything you make with it!
And lentil soup is one of those dishes that will benefit greatly if you sprinkle some garlic powder in it while cooking.
The key here is moderation; too much garlic powder can overpower your dish and leave an unpleasant aftertaste.
On the other hand, not enough won’t give you the bold flavors your soup deserves either!
So stick to using about 1 teaspoon for every cup of dry lentils for best results.
16. Ground Coriander
Coriander is a flavorful herb native to the Mediterranean region.
But it wasn’t until recent decades that this culinary secret has been widely shared and enjoyed in every corner of the world.
Ground coriander provides an earthy flavor and aroma, both warm and slightly citrus-like.
It can be used as a topping on foods like salads or added directly into dishes such as soups or stews for a milder flavor.
It pairs perfectly with lentils!
The combination of these two ingredients gives the soup robustness but also keeps its lightness, something we all crave during cold winter days.
A teaspoon of ground coriander adds just enough earthiness without overpowering other flavors you may have in your soup like celery or carrots.
Turmeric is a spice that adds so much flavor and color to foods without adding calories or fat.
It has numerous health benefits, making it one of the must-have ingredients in your kitchen when cooking lentil soup.
Turmeric enhances flavor by providing an earthy note, while also giving dishes a vibrant color.
When preparing lentil soup, use just enough turmeric powder to give your soup a nice yellow hue
Depending on how many servings you are preparing for and how strong you like your flavors, about 1/4 -1 teaspoon of turmeric should be enough!
Keep in mind that since it’s such a strong spice, too much can make the dish bitter instead of subtly flavorful — so be sure not to go overboard!
Ginger brings out the earthy tones of lentil soup while adding an extra hint of flavor that will have your family licking their bowls clean.
Plus, its subtle spice amps up the heat without overwhelming the palette.
Here’s how much you should be using: use about ½ teaspoon (1/2 teaspoon) of freshly grated or powdered ginger per 4 servings or 1 large pot of soup.
Just mix it in with other herbs and spices when simmering on low heat for best results!
If you like more kick in your dish, feel free to increase the amount by ¼ teaspoon (1/4 teaspoon).
19. Black Pepper
Black pepper is an essential ingredient when it comes to making hearty and delicious soup.
The subtle yet full-bodied flavor of black pepper works wonders in bringing out the earthy and creamy flavors of the perfect bowl of soup.
When adding black pepper to this dish, you want just enough for the flavor to come through without overpowering it.
To achieve this, a little goes a long way – typically about one teaspoon is all that’s needed for most soups.
If your recipe calls for fresh cracked black pepper, then add in even smaller amounts (1/4 teaspoon at a time) until you’re happy with how much spice is present in your soup.
If you’re looking to jazz up an otherwise ordinary lentil soup, try adding rosemary.
This humble herb brings a bright and woody flavor that pairs perfectly with the earthy taste of lentils.
Plus, it’s super easy to use – just add ¼ teaspoon for every 1 cup of dried lentils when preparing your recipe.
Tarragon is a staple in French cuisine and it also goes great with lentil soup.
Tarragon has an anise flavor, slightly reminiscent of licorice, and adds complexity to the milder flavors of lentils.
When adding tarragon to your soup, start by using 1⁄2 teaspoon per cup of soup and gradually work up to 1 teaspoon if you want a more pronounced flavor.
Too much can be overwhelming so add it in small amounts.
Tarragon pairs well with other herbs like rosemary, oregano, basil, thyme, and parsley as well as cumin and allspice – complimentary notes that offer a depth of flavor beyond just tarragon alone.
Finish off your soup with some freshly squeezed lemon juice for brightness or sautéed mushrooms for body – neither will overpower the tarragon but add balance and complexity that make this such a great pairing for soups.
Chives are a flavorful and versatile addition to any soup – but especially lentil soup.
The flavors of chives blend perfectly with the garlic, herbs, and vegetables that you often find in this particular dish.
Plus, it adds an extra element of texture as well.
For best results, use about a tablespoon or two of chopped fresh chives for every two servings of lentils you’re making.
If using dried or frozen chives, use one teaspoon per serving instead.
Adding too much chive can easily overpower your soup with its strong onion flavor so err on the side less if you’re unsure how much goes into each bowl!
Finally, be sure to add the chives right before serving so they have time to thaw out and mix nicely into your soup!
Sage is an herb with an incredibly rich and woody flavor.
It pairs perfectly with the nutty flavor of lentils, which makes it a great addition to this hearty soup.
Plus, it adds warmth and wonderful aromas throughout the entire house when cooking!
When using fresh or dried sage in soups like this one, there’s really no wrong amount; use as much as you like for more intense flavor and as little as necessary for subtler notes.
To start off though, try adding 1/4 teaspoon of dried sage per cup of cooked lentils.
This should give your dish just enough punch while keeping everyone guessing what that special something was added in at the end.
Fennel has a very unique taste—it’s sweet yet slightly bitter with a subtle licorice-like aftertaste.
For this reason, it pairs great with lentils!
When adding fennel to your soup recipe, you can use any part of the bulb: fronds (green needles), stalks or leaves (to garnish), and disks (thin slices).
You can also use the seed pods inside, which are spicier than the rest of the plant.
25. Ground Cardamom
Cardamom is an aromatic herb and spice that has a warm, sweet flavor.
It’s often used in Middle Eastern and Indian cooking, but it can also be found in other global cuisines like North African dishes.
Adding ground cardamom to your lentil soup will give it a beautiful, fragrant aroma and provide a unique sweetness to the dish.
The amount you should use depends on how much of the sweet cardamom flavor you would like present.
I recommend starting with 1/4 teaspoon of ground cardamom for every 2 cups of cooked lentils you are using.
Taste your soup before serving and adjust as needed depending upon desired flavor levels!
Sprinkle some crushed cardamom seeds or freshly chopped cilantro leaves as garnish if desired!
26. Ground Cinnamon
Ground cinnamon is a versatile spice with a sweet and warming flavor, making it the perfect choice for adding both sweetness and warmth to lentil soup.
When used properly, ground cinnamon can enhance the flavors of your dish without overpowering them.
So why does ground cinnamon go so well in lentil soup?
For one thing, it’s an ideal complement because its sweet flavor acts as a natural counter to the earthy yet slightly spicy flavor of lentils.
Its warm taste adds depth to the soup while also helping blend together all of its various ingredients—and who doesn’t want that?
When adding ground cinnamon to your dish, start by using ¼ teaspoon per 4 cups of broth or liquid.
This should give you enough added sweeter and warmth without being overwhelming.
From there, feel free to add more if desired; just be sure not to overdo it since too much can overpower other flavors in your meal.
27. Cayenne Pepper
Cayenne pepper is a powerful spice, and it’s not for the faint of heart.
But if you’re looking to add an extra kick of heat to any dish, cayenne should be your go-to ingredient
Cayenne has a unique flavor that gives a hot and spicy taste to dishes like soups, stews, curries, chili, nachos, and more.
It also helps bring out the natural flavor in ingredients like tomato or potato that complements lentils perfectly!
When making lentil soup with cayenne pepper always use moderation as too much can have unpleasant consequences on your palate and digestive system.
I suggest using about ¼ teaspoon for every cup of cooked dried red or green Lentils.
How do you spruce up lentil soup?
Lentil soup is incredibly simple to make but can feel a bit plain. That’s why sprucing it up with flavorful ingredients gives you the best of both worlds: quick preparation and amazing flavor.
Here are some tips on how you can jazz up your lentil soup:
- First, add vegetables like carrots, celery, onions, or potatoes. You can also incorporate other legumes alongside the lentils such as chickpeas or split peas for added texture and different flavors. If you want an earthier flavor profile, try working mushrooms into the mix as well.
- Add some heat by adding chili peppers into the mix – jalapeños if you prefer something milder or serranos for more spice! To balance out all that heat, enjoy sweetening things up by tossing in dried apricots for a hint of natural sweetness without overpowering the soup with sugar.
- A swirl of cream (or Greek yogurt) when serving is also a delicious way to make the soup more creamy and indulgent. For a nice crunch, top with croutons, nuts, or seeds.
- And finally, don’t forget to season with herbs and spices such as cumin, coriander, oregano, smoked paprika, and thyme.
Why is my lentil soup bland?
When you make lentil soup, it can sometimes turn out a little bland. The trick to avoiding this is flavor layering!
- Start by sautéing aromatics like garlic, onion, and ginger before adding in the broth or water.
- Then add some spices such as cumin, coriander, or turmeric for an earthy note and fresh herbs like parsley or cilantro for brightening up flavors.
- For more depth of flavor try adding tomato paste or anchovies and take time to season the soup with salt and pepper at each step of your cooking process.
- Finally, if the soup still lacks that hit of excitement add some citrus juice (like lemon), wine vinegar, Worcestershire sauce, or even soy sauce while stirring everything together to finish off your dish.
If done right you will be left with dishes full of complexity― perfect fuel for winter nights.
What makes lentils taste better?
- Spices: Add flavor with spices like cumin, coriander, turmeric, garlic powder, and black pepper to make lentils taste better.
- Aromatics: Enhance the flavor by adding aromatic vegetables such as onions, carrots, and celery to your lentils.
- Herbs and greens: Use fresh herbs like cilantro and parsley or spinach leaves for added nutrition and an extra punch of flavor in your lentils dish
- Stock or broth: Give the lentils more body with a flavorful stock or broth in place of plain water while they’re cooking
- Lemon juice: Balance out all the flavors from the other ingredients with a squeeze of lemon juice at the end!
27 Must-Have Herbs And Spices For Lentil Soup
- Curry Powder
- Red Pepper Flakes
- Sea Salt
- Aleppo Pepper
- Ground Coriander
- Ground Cumin
- Smoked Paprika
- Chili Powder
- Cumin Seeds
- Bay Leaf
- Dried Oregano
- Garlic Powder
- Black Pepper
- Ground Cardamom
- Ground Cinnamon
- Choose your favorite herbs or spices from this collection to flavor your soup.
- Prepare the rest of your tasty dish.
- Serve in no time!