Curry Lentil Soup

Curry Lentil Soup

This vibrant Curry Lentil Soup combines an array of veggies, red lentils, a robust seasoning blend, and creamy coconut milk to deliver an unforgettable warming meal.

Love lentils? Us too! Try our original lemon-parsley Lentil Soup, this hearty Lentil Bolognese, or this Lentil Curry next.

Curry Lentil Soup

Curry Lentil Soup

Curry Lentil Soup

When my husband and I traveled to Dubai, we took a desert safari tour that ended with a 6-course Arabic meal under the stars, right in the middle of the dessert! It was an unforgettable night, to say the least, and the food was truly exquisite. 

One of the favorite dishes of the evening was Curry Lentil Soup. It was warming, perfectly spiced, thick, and hearty.

It was so memorable for me that it was the first recipe I worked to re-create upon returning home. It took a few iterations to work through, but I couldn’t be happier with how it turned out.

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Lentils are a highly nutritious food. They are rich in minerals, protein, and fiber while also being low in calories. They are also very satiating — you’ll be amazed just how filling this Curry Lentil Soup is!

Ingredient shot for Curry Lentil Soup.

Ingredient shot for Curry Lentil Soup.

Let’s talk veggies

In order for everything to cook in time and ensure the lentils aren’t mushy by the time the veggies are tender, it’s important to cut the veggies very small. It’s also important the veggies are all generally cut into equal sizes so they cook evenly in this Curry Lentil Soup.

  • Dice the potato into small 1/2-inch chunks
  • Cut large carrots in half lengthwise first and then thinly slice (just under 1/2-inch thick).
  • Finely dice the red onion (or throw it in a mini food processor for ease).
  • Mince the ginger and garlic (or, again, throw in a mini food processor for ease).

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Because the peel is so delicate on a Yukon gold potato, you don’t need to peel them; just give them a quick wash and scrub to clean. Same with the carrots: wash them thoroughly and don’t bother peeling them.

Process shots for making Curry Lentil Soup.

Process shots for making Curry Lentil Soup.

Let’s chat lentils

You’ll want to use dried red lentils for this soup. While any brand works, I do like Bob’s Red Mill® best (not sponsored). There is no need to soak the lentils before adding to this soup —  for this recipe, we just rinse them off, and then they cook perfectly.

Red/orange lentils are more processed, break down quicker (about 15-20 minutes), and thicken the soup quite a bit. This recipe, timing-wise and flavor-wise, relies on red lentils so I don’t recommend using a different type of lentils.

Also note that when over-cooked, red lentils do turn mushy so watch the soup carefully near the end.

Puy lentils (French lentils) take nearly 45-50 minutes to cook through and are ideal in salads. French lentils in this soup would absorb too much liquid and overcook all the veggies, so I don’t recommend them.

Brown/green lentils also take a bit longer to cook through and have a slightly different flavor profile than we’re going for.

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What About Canned Lentils? While I highly recommend using dried lentils (I think they provide a better end flavor and texture, plus they’re cheaper!), you can use cooked canned lentils if that is all you have on hand. I’d recommend 1 can of cooked lentils (drained and rinsed) added in place of the dried lentils. Simmer until tender, noting that they won’t thicken the soup quite the same.

Process shots for making Curry Lentil Soup.

Process shots for making Curry Lentil Soup.

Curry Lentil Soup Seasonings

The seasoning blend adds an incredible depth of flavor to this soup. Most of the seasonings are fairly standard and straightforward — keep in mind that the higher the quality of the spice used, the better the soup will taste.

The two seasonings that can make a more varied end result are garam masala and curry powder. Both of these seasonings are actually a blend of a lot of spices so they can certainly impact how the soup tastes and its overall spiciness. 

For this soup, I use Private Selection® Garam Masala Blend and Great Value® Organic Yellow Curry Powder.

I would say neither of those specific spices is overly spicy, though each does have a fairly robust flavor. With those two seasonings I’d rate this soup as mild, but keep in mind the heat of this soup can greatly vary depending on the specific spices you choose to use (so add slowly, taste, and adjust).

Process shots for the final steps in making Curry Lentil Soup.

Process shots for the final steps in making Curry Lentil Soup.

Curry Lentil Soup Toppings

  • Lemon. If I could suggest only one topping, I’d say that lemon is a must! Lemon adds a wonderful flavor, welcome freshness, and a hit of acidity. We add lemon zest and juice to the soup as it’s finishing and I also serve additional lemon wedges on the side. In our books, the more lemon the tastier the soup gets! 
  • Cilantro. For a citrusy finishing, stir some cilantro into the soup. If you don’t love cilantro, you could also add in some fresh flat-leaf Italian parsley — either works. Fresh herbs are not completely essential, so if you don’t have them, don’t worry.
  • Toasted coconut flakes. We love the slight crunch and subtle sweetness toasted coconut flakes add. Not to be confused with sweetened shredded coconut, here’s what we’re using to top this Curry Lentil Soup.
  • Coconut milk. Before adding the coconut milk to the soup, we set aside 1/4 cup (48g) to drizzle on the tops of the soup bowls. Besides looking fancy, it also adds a nice intense coconut flavor to the soup. If you don’t want this finishing flavor, add all the coconut milk to the soup instead of setting any aside.

Closeup view of Curry Lentil Soup.

Closeup view of Curry Lentil Soup.

Curry Lentil Soup Storage

This soup just continues to get more flavorful as it sits and flavors have a chance to meld and intensify.

It will stay fresh for 4-5 days stored in an airtight container in the fridge. Unfortunately, it doesn’t freeze very well; the veggies and lentils get a bit mushy when thawed. If the yield of soup is too much to be eaten within those 4-5 days, I recommend halving the recipe initially.

Reheat the soup gently in a pot over medium-low heat, stirring frequently. You’ll likely need to add in an additional splash of vegetable or chicken stock to slightly thin the soup. It does thicken as it sits and is stored.

Closeup view of Curry Lentil Soup with coconut milk swirled on top.

Closeup view of Curry Lentil Soup with coconut milk swirled on top.

Other hearty soup recipes

Curry Lentil Soup

This vibrant Curry Lentil Soup combines an array of veggies, red lentils, a robust seasoning blend, and creamy coconut milk to deliver an unforgettable warming meal.

Curry Lentil Soup

This vibrant Curry Lentil Soup combines an array of veggies, red lentils, a robust seasoning blend, and creamy coconut milk to deliver an unforgettable warming meal.

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons coconut oil (or butter)
  • 1 cup (130g) diced red onion (~1/2 a large onion)
  • 2 cups (283g) thinly sliced carrots (~3 large carrots)
  • 1 cup (156g) diced Yukon gold potatoes (~1-2 potatoes)
  • 1-1/2 tablespoons (15g) EACH: finely minced garlic, finely minced ginger (~3 cloves & 1-inch piece)
  • 1 tablespoon yellow curry powder Note 1
  • 1-1/2 teaspoon EACH: paprika, ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon EACH: ground cumin, garam masala, white sugar
  • 3/4 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes, optional
  • Fine sea salt and cracked pepper
  • 1 can (14.5 oz.; 411g) fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • 3/4 cup (150g) red lentils Note 2
  • 1 can (13.5 oz.; 400g) full-fat coconut milk, divided
  • 3 cups (726g) vegetable stock or broth Note 3
  • 1 cup (135g) frozen sweet peas
  • Optional: zest and juice of a lemon (3 tablespoons juice), 1/3 cup finely diced cilantro, toasted coconut flakes

Instructions

  • PREP: Measure the lentils and pick over to remove debris or shriveled lentils; add to a fine-mesh sieve, thoroughly rinse with cool water, and set aside. Prep the veggies: finely dice the onion and thinly slice carrots (cut thick carrots in half lengthwise first and then thinly slice (to create half moons), dice potato (no need to peel if using Yukon gold) into small 1/2 inch pieces. Cut carrot and potato small so they’ll cook in the right amount of time. Finely mince the garlic cloves and the ginger.

  • SAUTE: Measure the 3 tablespoons butter or coconut oil when solid and heat in a large cast iron pot to medium-high heat. Add in onion, carrots, and potatoes. Saute for 7-9 minutes, stirring frequently, until golden. Add in the garlic and ginger. Cook for another 1-2 minutes, stirring constantly. Nothing should be overly browning or burning; if so, turn down the heat. If you aren’t using a cast iron pot, cook times will be longer (cast iron holds heat better). While everything is cooking, measure out the spices.

  • SPICES AND TOMATOES: To the pot, add all the spices. Season with salt and pepper; I add 1 and 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground pepper. Cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes or until very fragrant. Add in the (undrained) tomatoes, reduce the heat to medium, stir and cook for 2-3 minutes, scraping the bottom of the pot to release any browned bits.

  • LENTILS AND LIQUIDS: Vigorously shake the can of coconut milk. Open and remove 1/4 cup and set aside for later. Add vegetable stock, lentils, and remaining coconut milk to the soup. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and gently simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes or until lentils and veggies are tender. Stir occasionally. Red lentils can get mushy if over-cooked so check at 15 minutes. If soup thickens too much, add a splash more broth/stock (we do like this soup pretty thick!) and if it’s too thin (or lentils aren’t tender), increase the heat a bit to simmer at a slightly higher heat.

  • FINISHING: Remove from heat. Stir in the frozen peas and optional 1/3 cup finely chopped cilantro. Stir in the zest and juice of a lemon. Taste and adjust any seasonings; flavors should sing, so add extra salt, pepper, or lemon juice if needed.

  • SERVE: Ladle into bowls and serve with lemon wedges. (We love lots of lemon in this soup!) Use a spoon to drizzle reserved 1/4 cup coconut milk onto the tops of bowls and sprinkle in toasted coconut flakes if desired. Enjoy!

Recipe Notes

Note 1: The two seasonings that can make a more varied end result are garam masala and curry powder. Both of these seasonings are actually a blend of a lot of spices so they can certainly impact how the soup tastes and overall spiciness. For this soup, I use Private Selection Garam Masala Blend and Great Value Organic Yellow Curry Powder. (These two specific brand keep everything very mild)
Note 2: Use dried red lentils for this soup. While any brand works, I do like Bob’s Red Mill best (not sponsored). There is no need to soak the lentils before adding to this soup. Red/orange lentils are more processed, break down quicker (about 15-20 minutes), and thicken the soup quite a bit. This recipe, timing-wise and flavor-wise, relies on red lentils so I don’t recommend using a different type of lentils.
Note 3: We love Swanson’s vegetable stock best (not sponsored); you can use chicken stock if you aren’t vegetarian.

Nutrition Facts

Calories: 434kcal | Carbohydrates: 51g | Protein: 14g | Fat: 22g | Saturated Fat: 18g | Sodium: 635mg | Potassium: 1223mg | Fiber: 16g | Sugar: 13g | Vitamin A: 13899IU | Vitamin C: 40mg | Calcium: 106mg | Iron: 7mg

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