300-Calorie Spiced Red Lentil Soup Recipe (From a Top London Chef)

Today I’m being nice and bringing joy to the world.

I recently heard about an initiative by a restaurant in London’s Borough Market called Arabica Bar and Kitchen.  Throughout January the founders have added a low-calorie spiced red lentil soup to the menu – and for every £5 bowl sold they will donate £3 for the Soup For Syria appeal. That’s it below – looks nice, doesn’t it.

Bowl of low-calorie red lentil soup from Arabica, London recipe

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But if you’re not in London that doesn’t mean you can’t join in too, as, Arabica’s founder James Walters has handed out the recipe to anyone who wants to make it themselves – and, should you like it, then you can make a donation yourself to any of the Syria appeals in your country – or, there’s also a Soup for Syria cookbook you can buy to say thanks – proceeds of which go to food relief charities.

It’s a nice idea I like it so, they have me permission to give you the recipe to try for yourself. So here it is. If you’re looking for a low-calorie red lentil soup recipe – this is the one to try.

Arabica Spiced Red Lentil Soup

A warming, wholesome, fragrantly spiced vegan-friendly crowd pleaser!

Serves 4 generously


  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 small onions, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 tsp. Ras el Hanout
  • ½ tsp. Urfa chilli flakes
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tsp. tomato paste
  • 200g red lentils
  • 3 tsp. pomegranate molasses
  • 1200ml hot water
  • Sea salt, to taste
  • Black pepper

To finish

  • Fresh thyme leaves
  • Sumac
  • Fried onions or shallots (Available from any oriental supermarket)
  • Black pepper


  • Peel and finely dice the onion.
  • Heat the olive oil in a medium-sized saucepan, add the onions and cook on a low heat until they soften, become translucent and give off their natural sweetness.
  • Add the garlic, bay leaf, Ras el Hanout spices and continue to cook on a low heat for a further minute stirring continuously.
  • Add the tomato paste, red lentils and slowly add the 1 litre of boiling water mixing as you go. Finally, add the pomegranate molasses. Bring to the boil. Skim the surface if necessary. Lower the heat to a gentle simmer and cook for 30 minutes or till the lentils are fully cooked and begin to break down.
  • Blend the soup to a smooth consistency and season with salt to taste. If the soup is too thick add more water.
  • To serve ladle into deep soup bowls, drizzle with olive oil, liberally sprinkle with crispy onions, a pinch of cracked black pepper, a few fresh thyme leaves and a tiny pinch of citrusy sumac.

So, there you have it.

If you’ve tried it, let me know what you think in the comments, but before you go, a bit of further reading over and above the Soup for Syria book I mentioned earlier.

Further Reading

Why not treat yourself to a soup cookbook – I’ve got the first one at home and it’s great – and, because it’s completely veggie, it’s super budget-friendly. Just click on the covers to see more about the books.

Soupologie: Plant-based Gluten Free soups to Heal, Cleanse and Energise

Love the way this book divides its soups by colour! You want white soups, brown soups and orange soups – you’ve got it. Admittedly, the descriptions are better on the recipes themselves – how yummy does Thai Carrot and Peanut sound?

See more about it here.

The Soup Book: 200 Recipes Season by Season

By top chef Sophie Grigson, this books divides itself by season. So you’ll find chilled soups in summer and more hearty warmers like Parsnip and Apple (yum) for autumn and winter.

See more about it here

Great British Soups by the New Covent Garden Soup Company

If you go into any supermarket in the UK you’ll find cartons of deliciousness by the New Covent Garden Soup Company – this book by them helps you make the recipes at home. There’s 120 to choose from.

See more about it here.

What to Read Next

Not in the mood for soup? How about a Thai Green Curry instead – check out this recipe for Yellow Thai Curry from Deliciously Ella.

Or try out super quick Pitta Bread Pizza recipe – it’s on the table in less than 15 minutes.

If you like soup you might also want to check out this review of the Morphy Richards Soup Maker (it literally changed my life).

Who is The Wellness Nerd?

My name is Helen Foster and I’m a health journalist and wellness author. Publications I’ve written for include Women’s Health, Reader’s Digest, Body and Soul, Good Health at the Daily Mail and more. I have also written 16 books on health and nutrition.

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