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Persian Lentil Soup…A Chicago Restaurant Fave

A healthy and filling vegan lentil soup booming with Middle Eastern spices and flavors.  A great soup for those days when we all need a bit of soul warming.

Persian Lentil Soup...A Chicago Restaurant Fave image 1 - Girl and the Kitchen

Most Chicagoans know of this wonderful Persian restaurant called “Reza’s”. Russians looove this Middle-Eastern cuisine. Partially because of the influence of the Georgians and the Armenians. But mostly because of the delicious char grilled meat and fragrant basmati rice.

For as long as I can remember my family went to Reza’s. I always had this gitty feeling when I knew we were going there. I would day dream about it in school and look forward to it all day.  I know I am special…

They have HUGE portions…HUGE! Mostly everyone at our table always left most of the meal on their plates…except my dad, my uncle and my 70 pound self… we put away the entire meal! My mom warned me each time to stop…but in my typical stubborn fashion I never listened.   And every time I would slouch on the chair, slowly making my way under the table to take a much needed nap, growning from my full tummy.

My mom would say, “Why would you do that? Look at your stomach, look!! This is more food than you have eaten all month!”

I would look up at her, with a miserable smile and say, “But once I start, I cannot stop. I have to eat it all. How would dad and my uncle look at me if I didn’t eat it all?” My mom would throw her hands in the air and say that one day I would learn.

Persian Lentil Soup...A Chicago Restaurant Fave image 2 - Girl and the Kitchen

I have duplicated almost all of my favorite recipes they have at the restaurant.  These lemony mushrooms were a fan fave at the restaurant and I vowed to recreate them…naturally I succeeded 🙂

Persian Lentil Soup...A Chicago Restaurant Fave image 3 - Girl and the Kitchen

I made all the recipe…except one. Their soup. It’s this delicious lentil and tomato soup that I absolutely love. It’s completely vegan so it goes with my lifetyle and has a ton of flavor in it.  In the restaurant, they always served it with a huge platter of fresh parsley, radishes and feta.  It was such a great compliment to the salad.  So I placed some feta on my soup to finish it off and add some saltiness.

I made this on a whim last week and I was impressed.  As was the hubs.  I put it out for him when I went upstairs to blog last night. I came down…the bowl was licked clean.

Persian Lentil Soup...A Chicago Restaurant Fave image 4 - Girl and the Kitchen
“I liked…even better than Reza’s!” He said.
Ahhh music to my ears, my recipe is better than Reza’s! Brilliant!  Someone is getting lucky tonight 🙂

*I based this off of a recipe I found on recipezaar.com, funnily enough a woman was looking for the same soup recipe. You can find the original recipe here.

The recipe definitely needed a bit of tweaking. I added a lot of my own spices that I know are traditionally used in Persian and middle eastern cuisine in general.  

One spice I knew it needed was sumac. You can check out all of the benefits of sumac in this post from the Dr. Axe website, and they chose to include this recipe! 😃*

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Persian Lentil Soup (1 of 4)

Persian Lentil Soup

  • Author: Mila Furman


A healthy and filling vegan lentil soup booming with Middle Eastern spices and flavors. A great soup for those days when we all need a bit of soul warming.


  • 1 cup lentils (rinsed)
  • 8 cups vegetable stock (I used Trader Joes, which was very flavorful)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large onion (finely chopped or put through a blender or food processor*)
  • 4 garlic cloves (crushed)
  • 1 can stewed tomatoes (15oz, crushed)
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 bunch of parsley (finely chopped*)
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
  • 2 tsp sumac*
  • 3 tsp 7-spice
  • 1/4 cup brown basmati rice (optional, uncooked *)
  • juice of 1 lemon


  1. Add olive oil to a 5 qt pot and sautee onions and garlic together and let them sweat. You do not want any color.*
  2. Add lentils and stock to this mixture and bring up to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover and continue simmering on medium low for 25 minutes•.
  3. Add tomatoes, parsley and all seasoning and cook for 5 minutes.
  4. Add the rice and turn down the heat and let it cook for about 25-30 minutes on medium heat, until the lentils and rice are tender. At this point, add lemon juice. Taste and season with additional salt, pepper and lemon as you see fit. I like mine very lemony.
  5. Pour into a bowl and garnish with feta and chopped parsley.


It may seem like a ton of parsley, but the parsley adds a very authentic and delicious flavor to the soup.
I did not add in any rice as I really felt it was unnecessary. But please feel free to if you think you need it to make a complete meal.
I like to put the onions and garlic through the Vitamix with just a few tablespoons of water. I find this gives me a nice even soup and there are no chunks of onions in there.
Make sure that the lentils are tender. Depending on the lentils, sometimes this takes longer. If that is the case, just keep simmering until they are the doneness to you liking.
*If you have never seen sumac, I recommend that you try using it in all your middle eastern recipes. It is regularly used in that region of the world. It has a tart flavor to it and was originally used in food before the Romans introduced lemons. It goes well with chicken, beef, hummus almost anything. In fact, you will usually see it sitting on tables next to the salt in pepper in most good middle eastern restaurants. 7-Spice is also very popular and frequently used. It’s a spice blend with cumin, ground coriander, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamon. It really gives that middle eastern flare to the dish.*

  • Category: Soup
  • Cuisine: Persian

A healthy and filling vegan lentil soup booming with Middle Eastern spices and flavors. A great soup for those days when we all need a bit of soul warming.

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    1. Hi Michele I am blessed to have great Indian and Middle Eastern stores around me. However you can buy these spices on several websites…Amazon being one of them 🙂

  1. Cannot wait to try! Saying ‘hello’ all the way from Australia . . . and wishing a Happy New Year for all those of Persian heritage!! Make my own vegetable broth from ‘all left over’ usually and sumac is always ‘in house’ . . .but presume you mean Middle-Eastern 7-spice, as the wonderful Japanese ‘shichimi togarishi’ we normally regard as such one would probably not fill the bill

    1. Hi Eha!!! I am actually not Persian…just LOVE the food 🙂 And yes I was referring to the Middle Eastern 7-spice…I think the Japanese would be just a tad different 🙂 Have a wonderful day darling!

  2. OMG YES! This is my kind of soup!!! I have to try it this weekend! The mushrooms look incredible too 🙂 PS re: overeating and being reprimanded by your mum – that STILL happens to me.

    1. Nagi…did you know that when I see a comment from you pop-up…I get all giddy…I swear it’s true 🙂 The shrooms…really are fab…the family always gobbles them up! But the soup is da bomb! Just had some for lunch and I am a happy girl! And mums will be mums right…

  3. What kind of lentils do you use for this recipe? Green? French? Red? Can’t really tell from the photo but dying to make this recipe!

  4. I used to live in Chicago and loved reza’s. I just found your recipe and it is now my go-to lentil soup recipe! I’ve made it twice in the last week. Delicious! Thank you!

  5. I just made this wonderful recipe!

    But in the place of plain parsely, I used left over persian sabzi mix of fresh parsely, dill, green onion, and mint.

    And used two dried persian limes instead of the lemon juice and sumac (which I added about ten minutes into the first 25 min simmer.)

    It was great!

  6. I apologize if I’m missing something obvious, but do you add the rice in step two along with the lentils? Thanks! It looks great!

    1. Hi Bill! Sorry for the late response this sadly ended up in my junk 🙁 You would add the rice in in step 4.

  7. Looks delicious! Cant wait to try this buuuuut….Why is it called 7-spice? cumin, ground coriander, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamon Make six spices not 7. What is so obvious that I am missing??! And is it equal parts all around to make my own blend?

    1. It’s paprika, cumin, coriander , cloves, nutmeg , cinnamon and cardamom. And it’s def not equal parts as some are more powerful than others!

  8. Thank you thank you thank you for posting this recipe. I feel kind of silly asking but do you use canned lentils or the hard lentils?

  9. Thank you Mila (my late, beloved mother’s name and niece’s named after her)…I love Reza’s and I love their soup. I was craving it (I work overseas) and found this! Cannot wait to try it!!!

  10. I moved east from Chicago and Rezas is my all time favorite. I’m home sick and I’m craving their soup because it’s the only soup I like when sick. I am so happy I found this!!! I feel better already!

    1. Oh yay!!! I love Rezas! It is such a fave of mine!!! I went keto a few months ago and I am craving that meat! Gotta go get my fix 🙂 I hope you feel better soon! I was out sick for the past two weeks so I know how awful it is! Get better soon!

  11. Hello! We just bought 7 spice from an Arabic store for the first time. Mine has all spice, cloves, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, rose and cardamom. Mine is cooking right now, but I’m guessing it will turn out so different because of the 7 spice brand I purchased. It may be helpful to know which “7 spices” that you use in the ingredient list. Thanks!

    1. Hi there! The 7-spice I use does not have a brand. It is from a local spice shop called “Love that Spice”. I always try and get my spices from actual spice shops because the spices are fresher!

  12. Love the recipe though i prefer to make it less soup and more stew-like. I reduced broth to almost half and added the rice the first time and quinoa second time since i’m out of br. rice. I also add frozen peas or peas and diced carrots for more veggies and stew like consistency. I made my own 7-spice since i had all components on hand. I suggest serving with aromatic rice, preferably tahdig. Excellent recipe!

    1. That’s the best thing about recipes and understanding techniques , you can make all your own modifications 🙂

  13. Flavors are amazing, will def make again! The lemon is key. I did add about a half cup of cooked rice when the lentils were done. Only needed one teaspoon of salt, versus two, since the broth already had salt. Yum!!!

  14. Made this tonight & it was delish! I made my own 7 Spice using a different recipe . This one had fenugreek, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice & a few more. Still came out great! The splash of lemon really brightens it up. Will be awesome leftovers for lunch tomorrow.

    1. Great job on making your own 7 spice!!!!! I do love lemon in all my soups but in this soup it’s event better right?!

  15. Best lentil soup that I have ever had in my life! Followed the recipe exactly. I used red lentils and brown basmati recipe. I am literally obsessed and have shared this recipe with everyone I know. Thank you!

  16. I used ACTUAL 7 Spice which you can find in any Mediterranean store. This recipe calls for “7 Spice” which has similar yet very different ingredients. I had not notice this until it was already in the pot cooking.

    Beware of the 7 Spice!!!! I think the recipe should SPECIFY …. Kind of upset, my soup turned out very cinnamon-y and was almost fully IMPOSSIBLE to reverse the taste. I personally thought using the authentic 7 Spice you get in stores, it tastes nothing like reza’s.

    The recipe says ” It’s a spice blend with cumin, ground coriander, paprika, nutmeg, cinnamon and cardamon.”
    When shopping at a MIDDLE EASTERN STORE the 7 Spice in my pantry contains: Allspice, cardamom, black pepper, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon and ginger.

  17. Thank you for sharing this recipe.

    Making it here at home at the moment, it’s going through it’s final simmer.

    The kitchen smells amazing. Will be making this regularly throughout the coming winter to warm our souls.

    Kind regards,
    Jayson 🙂

  18. Fabulous! Wonderful! Simple! Cravewothy! I cannot sufficiently praise this recipe and its amazingness.

  19. It would be helpful to have the recipe for 7 spice powder including portions of each spice. I love sumac and will try dried limes.

  20. You don’t add any dried mint? I used to love that soup at Reza’s and i thought it had dried mint. (It was the only thing I could eat for a time when i was pregnant.) Didn’t it also have yellow split peas?

  21. I would like to use your recipes. However, I do not understand the “cup” measurement? What size of cup should I use (eg would an average sized tea cup do)? Alternatively, is there an easy way to convert “Cup” into grams and millilitres?

    1. Hi Eric!!! Cup is an actual measurement. There are however conversion sites that will actually convert the recipe for you into Ml or grams. Just google it 🙂

  22. I just made it with two cups of brown lentils so it was very thick as I like it but kept to rest of recipe…I often cook turkish food so had most of the ingredients anyway … It is so delicious…ive made a big load and frozen some…

  23. This was delicious! I had to make my own 7 Spice seasoning. and the sumac that I’d ordered never arrived so I used some harissa seasoning that contained sumac instead and supplemented with some Mrs. Dash Lemon Pepper. I adapted the recipe for my Instant Pot. So much flavor. Thank you for the wonderful recipe. Will definitely be making again.

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