Mexican Red Lentil Stew is an easy recipe that’s always a hit, and this delicious red lentil stew is vegan and gluten-free! Of course lentils have some carbs, but they also have fiber so if you check the nutritional information this might be lower in net carbs than you’re thinking.

PIN this tasty Red Lentil Stew to make it later!

Mexican Red Lentil Stew finished stew in serving bowl

This amazing Mexican Red Lentil Stew is a dish I made regularly when I used to have a soup party every year, and everyone would gobble it up and go back for more. And even though I didn’t mind the original photos for this dish, recently I was glad to update them with better ones when I had the chance.

When I looked at the notes for the original post, I noticed the soup was adapted from this recipe from Budget Bytes, who adapted it from Andrea Meyers, so you can tell the recipe has had a lot of fans!

I love red lentils in soup because they cook quickly and dissolve into the soup more quickly than regular lentils, and in this soup the lentils are seasoned with turmeric, ground cumin, and chile powder. Those spices plus the combination of lime and cilantro makes this soup a winner for me.

I eat mine with a dollop of sour cream, but if you skip the sour cream this tasty soup is vegan. I hope you’ll try it if you like these ingredients!

What ingredients do you need for this recipe?

(This is only a list of ingredients; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)

Can you use other types of lentils for this lentil stew recipe?

I encourage you to use red lentils for this stew, both for the flavor but also for the way they dissolve much more quickly than regular brown or green lentils when they’re used in soup. But if that’s just not happening at your house, I’m sure regular brown lentils will still be tasty.

What gives the Mexican flavors in this Red Lentil Stew?

Ground cumin, ground Ancho chile peppers, Green Tabasco Sauce, and lime juice all give this lentil stew a Mexican vibe!

What if you don’t want cilantro in the Red Lentil Stew?

I do understand that cilantro doesn’t taste good to some people, and if you’re someone with the anti-cilantro tastebuds I would use thinly-sliced green onion instead.

Mexican Red Lentil Stew process shots collage

How to Make Mexican Red Lentil Stew:

(This is only a summary of the steps for the recipe; please scroll down for complete printable recipe. Or if you use the JUMP TO RECIPE link at the top of the page, it will take you directly to the complete recipe.)

  1. The recipe starts by bringing the lentils and water to a boil, then letting the lentils sit covered for 30 minutes.
  2. While the lentils are pre-cooking in the hot water, saute chopped onions and celery in olive oil for a few minutes, then add Minced Garlic and cook a bit more. Add ground Turmeric, ground cumin, and ground Ancho chile and cook for 1-2 minutes more.
  3. Then add the vegetable broth, canned tomatoes, and hot sauce, and let simmer.
  4. When lentils have cooked in the hot water for 30 minutes, add the softened lentils and water to the soup pot and cook about 15-30 minutes more, until lentils are soft.
  5. At this point the soup isn’t too much in the looks department, but your kitchen will be smelling wonderful.
  6. Taste and see if you want to add salt, pepper, or any more hot sauce.
  7. While soup cooks, chop up a good-sized bunch of cilantro. (I used a whole cup of chopped cilantro, but you could get by with less.)
  8. When lentils are soft and starting to dissolve into the soup, add the lime juice and cilantro (or thinly-sliced green onion) and cook about 5 minutes more.
  9. Serve with more limes to squeeze into the stew if desired. This is good with a dollop of sour cream or vegan sour cream substitute.

Mexican Red Lentil Stew shown on napkin with cut limes in background.

More Soup or Stew with Lentils:

Mexican Red Lentil Stew
Yield: 6 servings

Mexican Red Lentil Stew

Prep Time 50 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 1 hour 20 minutes

This Mexican Red Lentil Stew was always a hit at my annual soup party, and this vegan lentil stew is delicious and inexpensive.


  • 1 cup dry red lentils
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 cup finely chopped celery
  • 1 T minced garlic (see notes)
  • 1/4 tsp. ground turmeric
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 14.5 oz. can roasted tomatoes (see notes)
  • 2 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 tsp. green Tabasco sauce (see notes)
  • salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (see notes)
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro (see notes)


  1. Put red lentils in a small pot, rinse and drain if needed, then add 2 cups water. Bring to a boil, turn off heat and cover. Let lentils sit in the hot water 30 minutes.
  2. While lentils are cooking in the water, finely chop onions and celery and mince garlic (or you can use minced garlic from a jar like I did.)
  3. Heat olive oil in heavy soup pot, add onion and celery and saute for 3-4 minutes, just long enough that vegetables are starting to soften.
  4. Add garlic and cook a few minutes more.
  5. Add ground turmeric, ground cumin, and chile powder, stir, and cook 1-2 minutes more.
  6. Add diced roasted tomatoes, vegetable broth, and hot sauce. I used Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link) for this recipe.
  7. Add lentils after they have soaked for 30 minutes, then let soup simmer for 15-30 minutes (or until lentils are as soft as you’d like them. I simmered it about 25 minutes.)
  8. While soup cooks, wash, dry and finely chop 1/2 – 1 cup fresh cilantro and squeeze limes to get 1/4 cup fresh lime juice.
  9. When the lentils are softened as much as you’d like, stir in chopped cilantro and lime juice and cook 5 minutes more.
  10. Serve hot, with additional cut limes to squeeze into the soup if desired. You can top the soup with sour cream or vegan substitute if desired.


You can get by with less garlic, but I like a lot of garlic in this. I like petite dice tomatoes for soup.

Use any hot sauce of your choice if you don't have Green Tabasco Sauce (affiliate link). You may want less if you use a different brand.

Use the juice of 2-3 limes, or less if you’re not that into lime. You can use less cilantro, or use thinly-sliced green onion if you're not a cilantro fan.

Recipe adapted from Mexican Lentil Stew at Budget Bytes and Spicy Red Lentil and Tomato Soup at Andrea Meyers.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 162Total Fat: 3gSaturated Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 3gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 372mgCarbohydrates: 26gFiber: 5gSugar: 3gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information is automatically calculated by the Recipe Plug-In I am using. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee 100% accuracy, since many variables affect those calculations.

Did you make this recipe?

Did you make this recipe? Please leave a star rating (under the PRINT button in the recipe) or share a photo of your results on Instagram! THANKS!

Square image of Mexican Red Lentil Stew in serving bowl on napkin, with limes in background.

Low-Carb Diet / Low-Glycemic Diet / South Beach Diet Suggestions:
This Mexican Red Lentil Stew recipe is a great main dish for any phase of the original South Beach Diet, although dried beans and lentils are limited to a small serving for Phase One. It’s a bit high in carbs for a traditional low-carb diet plan, but lentils do have some fiber so the net carbs might be lower than you think; check the nutritional information above.

Find More Recipes Like This One:
Use Soup and Stew Recipes to find more recipes like this one. Use the Diet Type Index to find recipes suitable for a specific eating plan. You might also like to follow Kalyn’s Kitchen on Pinterest, on Facebook, on Instagramon TikTok, or on YouTube to see all the good recipes I’m sharing there.

Historical Notes for this Recipe:
This red lentil stew with Mexican flavors was first posted in 2010. The recipe was last updated with more information in 2023.

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